Work visas in Singapore range from work permits for domestic workers and labourers, S Pass for mid-level skilled workers, to P-category Employment Passes (EP) for experienced professionals, managerial personnel, executives or specialists with good credentials.
No Quota for EP
Among these, for work permit 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 of 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?
- have managerial or executive roles, or are in specialised jobs
- are to be employed at a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,600 (or at current market rates)
- possess acceptable qualifications, which is usually a recognized university degree, professional qualifications, specialist skills or proven track record
- Every application is evaluated on case-per-case basis by the MOM. Thus, candidates without the qualifications as required by the recently-enhanced EP framework may not necessarily be rejected if they have a proven track record and exceptional skills-set.
- While young graduates from good institutions can qualify for the EP if they earn at least $3,600 every month (effective 1 January 2017), more experienced candidates need higher salaries to qualify.
- MOM doesn’t have a list of approved institutions. Rather it evaluates every application on its own merit, based on criteria such as global and country rankings, and enrolment standards.
Before Applying for Employment Pass
Do note that all employers hiring a foreigner on an Employment Pass (EP) are governed by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, which 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 SAT is positive, there is a high probability that the EP application will be successful.
- From August 1, 2014, as part of the Fair Consideration Framework, some firms that wish to hire Employment Pass holders must first advertise that position in the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s Jobs Bank. However, there are certain exceptions.
JobsBank ExceptionJobs that are exempted from JobsBank advertising requirement:
- Jobs in firms with less than 25 employees
- Jobs that pay more than $12,000 per month
- Intra-corporate transferees (holding senior positions / advanced level of expertise)
- Short-term contingencies (less than 1 month)
Timeline for Employment Pass Application
- Online application – 3 weeks or longer
- Manual application – around 5 weeks
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 in 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, which reduces the processing time remarkably as indicated above. An employer or authorised third party can make an EP application.
The following transactions, related to EP, 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 three
- 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 three years
- If it’s a renewal, then up to three years
Documents Required for the EP Application
The 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 the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
- details of the applicant’s academic certificates
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 your embassy, notary public or a credible translation service.
Please note that for applicants from India and China, there are additional requirements:
- Indian applicants – transcripts and mark-sheets
- Chinese applicants – certificate of graduation and verification proof of these certificates.
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/region and ones with skill-sets not locally available, generally fare better.
- It also helps if the candidate’s job scope and job title matches 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 successful track-record of more than three years, the EP approval rates are high.
- If the applicant’s skills-set is complimenting the local work-force, rather than competing with it, chances of MOM considering the application positively are substantial.
- The prospective salary of the applicant is also very important. Below are the reference salaries for various qualifications and experience:
- CEOs, CFOs, managing directors, senior level managers, specialists, subject matter experts > S$8,000
- Mid-level managers, senior executives, skilled technicians > S$4,500
- Young graduates with acceptable qualification > S$3,600
Appeal on Rejection of an EP Application
If all the above mentioned is taken care of diligently, there is no reason why your EP application will be rejected. But Singapore Government in a bid to generate a “Singapore core” in the country’s workforce has made the EP process a bit stringent. So, sometimes even worthy candidates get their EP application rejected.
Then, it all comes down to the appeal you make against the rejection, an area 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 highly improved 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 three weeks to process an appeal matter.
To read more on Employment Pass rejection and appeals, please click here.
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 three 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 cancelled 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 your supporting documents and share some pragmatic tips on improving the chances for a successful Singapore permanent residency application.
To learn more about Singapore PR application, click here.
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 although, can be submitted together with the EP application.
The available options include:
- Dependent’s pass – legally married spouse, unmarried children (including the adopted ones) under 21 years
- Long term visit pass – common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years, step-children under 21, parents (only if the EP holders earns more than S$12,000 per month)
Documents required for family passes:
- duly filled application form
- a photograph of the applicant (passport-sized and taken within last three months)
- personal particulars page of applicant’s passport/travel document
- document(s) establishing the applicant’s relationship with the EP holder
The list of documents needed to establish the relationship between the EP holder and the applicant is:
|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 is needed.
Letter of Consent (LOC)
Family members of EP holders, who have secured a Singapore Dependant’s Pass (DP), can apply to work in Singapore. For this, they can either go for an EP themselves or opt for a Letter of Consent (LOC).
For the LOC option, the DP holder, with at least three months pass validity still remaining, must first secure a job offer with a Singapore employer. As in case of the EP, an LOC application has also to be made by the DP holder’s prospective employer.
Since the DP, and in turn the LOC, is tied to the main EP holder, both (DP and LOC) are automatically cancelled on the cancellation of the EP.
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