Companies that require work passes for their employees can secure theirs with the help of a knowledgeable immigration services expert. We can assist you with our entire spectrum of work visa processing services.
- Reviewing the candidacy
- Acting as a liaison with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
- Applying for the work visa
- Processing renewals
- Tracking the application status
Work visas in Singapore range from work permits for domestic workers and labourers, S-Pass for mid-level skilled workers, to Employment Passes (EP) for experienced professionals, managerial personnel, executives, or specialists with good credentials.
Among these, for work permits and S passes, employers have the restrictions of foreign workers levy and foreign workers quota before they can employ foreigners. For EP, there is no such restriction.
Applying for Employment Pass in Singapore
Below we present everything that is to know about the EP application procedure in Singapore.
Singapore Employment Pass Eligibility
Who Can Apply for a Singapore Employment Pass?
- Entrepreneurs or Managing Directors of a Singapore company who wish to relocate to manage company operations;
- Locally-incorporated Singapore companies that need to hire an employee from overseas;
- Foreign individuals who have an employment offer from a Singapore employer. In this case, the employer will make the EP application on the individual’s behalf.
Who is Eligible to Apply for a Singapore Employment Pass?
- Applicants must have managerial or executive roles or are in specialised jobs
- Applicants are to be employed at a fixed monthly salary of at least S$5,000
- Applicants possess acceptable qualifications, which are usually a recognised university degree, professional qualifications, specialist skills, or proven track record
- Every application is evaluated on a case-per-case basis by MOM. Thus, candidates without the qualifications required by the recently-enhanced EP framework may still be accepted if they have a proven track record and exceptional skill sets
- Applicants can qualify for the EP if they earn at least S$5,000 monthly. In addition, EP applicants in the financial services industry must earn a minimum salary of S$5,500. More experienced candidates need higher salaries to qualify
- MOM doesn’t have a list of approved institutions. Instead, it evaluates every application on its own merit, based on criteria such as global and country rankings, and enrolment standards
Before Applying for an Employment Pass
All employers hiring a foreigner on an Employment Pass (EP) are governed by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. The Act prescribes the responsibilities and obligations pertaining to the employment of foreign workers in Singapore.
Other important considerations include:
- The MOM encourages extensive use of its Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to get an indication of whether a candidate meets the EP requirements. Candidates themselves can also use the tool to assess their eligibility. If the SAT is positive, there is a high probability that the EP application will be successful.
- As part of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), some firms that wish to hire Employment Pass holders must first advertise that position in the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s MyCareersFuture Portal. However, there are certain exceptions.
MyCareersFuture Exception: Jobs that are exempted from MyCareersFuture advertising requirement:
- Jobs in firms with less than 10 employees
- Jobs that pay more than S$20,000 per month (this will be raised to S$22,500 from 1 Sep 2023, pegged to the top 10% of EP holders)
- Intra-corporate transferees
- Short-term contingencies (less than 1 month)
Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)
From 1 September 2023, EP applicants must meet the required salary conditions and pass a new points-based COMPASS framework.
This framework applies to both new EP applications and renewals, with the latter starting from 1 September 2024.
It assesses candidates based on a comprehensive set of individual and company-related attributes. Applications are scored on 4 basic criteria, and points are earned when expectations are met (10 points) or exceeded (20 points).
Applications may also obtain additional points based on bonus criteria that target skills in shortage or back strategic economic preferences.
Applicants must achieve at least 40 points to pass COMPASS.
Timeline for Employment Pass Application
Typically, online applications for companies overseas with the absence of a Singapore-registered company take about 8 weeks or longer.
EP Online Application
Singapore has consistently ranked as the easiest country in the world for doing business in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. A major contributing factor to that is the e-service called EP Online.
EP Online is a portal for business employers and employment agencies to perform EP and S Pass transactions, reducing the processing time significantly as indicated above. An employer or authorised 3rd party can make an EP application.
The following transactions can be carried out using EP Online:
- New EP application
- Family passes for the EP holders
- Permission to work for family pass holders (also known as the Letter of Consent)
- Renew any of the above
- Check the application status
- Appeal EP rejections
- EP cancellation
- If a candidate is in Singapore on a visit pass that will expire before the Employment Pass is issued, MOM will not be able to extend the visit pass.
- The candidates must arrive in Singapore only after the EP is approved.
- An overseas employer with no registered office in Singapore will need to get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor and apply on its behalf. Only manual submissions of such applications are allowed.
Duration of the Employment Pass Issued
- If the applicant is a first-time candidate, then EP is issued for up to 2 years
- If it’s a renewal, then up to 3 years
Documents Required for the EP Application
- MOM requires photocopies of the following documents to be submitted along with the duly completed application form when an EP application is submitted:
- Personal particulars page of the applicant’s passport
- The applying company’s latest business profile or instant information registered with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
- Details of the applicant’s academic certificates
- Please note that for applicants from India and China, there are additional requirements:If any of the above documents are not in English, an English translation and a copy of the original document is needed.
The translation can be done by an applicant’s embassy, notary public, or a credible translation service.
Please note that for applicants from India and China, there are additional requirements:
|Post-secondary Diploma and Above Qualifications||Documents Needed|
|From All Other Countries||
Tips for a Successful EP Application
Note that relevant skills, educational qualifications, and professional background matter in securing a Singapore EP.
- Candidates from tier-one countries or regions and ones with skill sets not locally available generally fare better.
- It also helps if the candidate’s job scope and job title match each other, as well as if his or her prospective salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications.
- If the foreign talent is being hired by a niche industry or by an established company with a successful track record of more than 3 years, the EP approval rates are high.
- If the applicant’s skills-set is complimenting the local workforce, rather than competing with it, chances of MOM considering the application positively are substantial.
- As mentioned above, an applicant’s salary is also important.
Appeal on Rejection of an EP Application
If all of the above-mentioned are taken care of diligently, it is unlikely that an application will be rejected.
However, due to stringent assessment requirements, sometimes even worthy candidates get their EP applications rejected.
Then, it all comes down to the appeal made against the rejection, an area in which we specialise in.
- In most cases, a rejection advisory is issued for an unsuccessful EP application. Thus, the chance of a successful appeal, which must be made within three months of the rejection, is higher if the reasons mentioned in the advisory are taken care of.
- MOM categorically states that “there will be no change in the outcome, unless there is new information in the appeal”.
- Also, the rejected candidates are not allowed to appeal. Only the employer or the authorised third party who had submitted the initial application may appeal. MOM normally takes at least 3 weeks to process an appeal matter.
Read more on Employment Pass rejection and appeals.
Renewing an Employment Pass
Unlike a new EP application, renewing an EP is far easier. For those employers or authorised third party with an Online EP account, renewal of their employee’s EP is possible any time under six months of the Pass’ expiry date.
The renewal process takes only seven working days, and if successful, the employee on renewed EP is granted permission to work in Singapore for 3 more years.
The employer itself can do it or hire an authorised third party to do it for the company.
- EP renewals are not guaranteed and all applications are evaluated based on the current eligibility criteria.
- All applications for EP (sponsorship) holders must be done manually.
Cancel an EP
An EP must be canceled immediately if the pass holder no longer works for you or goes missing.
In case the EP holder becomes a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR), cancellation of EP is not essential.
When cancelling an EP, employers should note the following:
- All related family passes (dependant pass and long-term visit passes) will also be cancelled.
- Seek tax clearance from Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) before the pass holder leaves the job.
- A 30-day short-term visit pass (STVP) can be issued to the ex-employee, which allows him or her to stay in Singapore for the said period. The STVP must be submitted to the immigration officer when the ex-employee leaves the country.
An EP holder or the employer must notify the MOM of any changes in the company’s name and address, occupation, salary, and residential address.
Eligibility for Permanent Residency
EP holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency in Singapore through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme.
It is advisable to wait for at least six months before making the application so that you can furnish the required proof of six months’ salary.
An experienced immigration expert like us can assist with a review of an applicant’s supporting documents and share some pragmatic tips on improving the chances for a successful Singapore permanent residency application.
Read more about Singapore PR application.
Passes for Family Members of EP Holders
EP holders who earn at least S$6,000 per month can get certain family members to join them in Singapore.
For this, the employer needs to submit a separate application for each family member, which can be submitted together with the EP application.
The available options include:
- Dependant’s Pass (DP) – Legally married spouse, unmarried children (including the adopted ones) under 21 years
- Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) – Common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years, step-children under 21, parents (only if the EP holders earn more than S$12,000 per month)
Documents required for family passes
Personal particulars page of an applicant’s passport, as well as:
|Type of Family Member||Additional Documents|
|Unmarried handicapped children above 21 years of age||
|Unmarried stepchildren under 21 years of age||
As in the case of the EP application, if any of the above documents are not in English, an English translation and a copy of the original document are needed.
The original document must be uploaded with the English translation as 1 single file.
For DP applicants, children who share a passport with their parents must also submit the parent’s personal particulars page.
Letter of Consent (LOC)
Family members of EP holders, who have secured a Singapore Dependant’s Pass (DP), can apply to work in Singapore. An LTVP or LTVP+ holder who is the spouse or unwed child (under 21 years old) of a Singaporean or PR holder can apply for a Letter of Consent to work in Singapore.
The LOC is a renewable pass that has no foreign worker levy nor quota. The LTVP or LTVP+ must have a validity of at least 3 months, and the applicant must have a job offer from a Singapore employer.
These professions require additional documents when applying for an LOC:
- Purpose of the application
- Tenure of the applicant’s assignment
- A guarantee for the candidate’s repatriation and maintenance
FAQs about Singapore Employment Pass
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