There are multiple reasons why one would want to move to Singapore. However, to do that, you’d need a visa before entering the country. If you’re wondering about Singapore visa types and how to get them, look no further.
Moving to Singapore would be beneficial in multiple ways. It’s a financial hub with a highly developed economy, that is both market and trade based. Despite being a fairly new country, having reached independence only in 1965, Singapore still has low unemployment rates and low crime rates which make it an ideal place to live. This makes it a prosperous place to live, with its stable economy and business-friendly policies that make it attractive to foreign business owners.
If you’re from a visa-exempt country, citizens of these countries can enter and stay in Singapore without a visa for 30 days. In some countries, citizens are allowed to stay in Singapore without a visa for 90 days. This includes EU citizens, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States. To find out more about whether you need a visa when entering Singapore based on your country of origin, click here.
Singapore visa types
1. Employment Pass (EP)
An Employment Pass (EP) is a work visa that is granted by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to professionals, managerial personnel, executives and specialists who want to work in the country. This pass is usually valid for 2 years and is also renewable. In 2022, MOM will implement new changes to applying for an EP visa. These changes were announced on March 4 and will only be implemented for new applications from September 2023 onwards. These changes will then be further implemented for existing visa renewals from September 2024.
EP 2022 changes (COMPASS)
This new system, known as Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), is a way to ensure that Employment Pass holders add to the domestic workforce more positively and transparently. These changes also ensure that our foreign workforce will be diverse and skilled while encouraging the hiring of more local staff. A points-based immigration system is not unheard of. Many countries utilise it, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Foreign professionals would need to score at least 40 points for an EP visa. There are four criteria that allocate points (up to 20 points each) to candidates for the EP – salary, qualifications, diversity and support for resident employment.
- Firstly, candidates have to meet the qualifying salary. The benchmark for qualifying salaries for EP holders has been raised from $4,500 to $5,000 (except for EP holders in financial services sectors, where the benchmark has been raised from $5,000 to $5,500).
- Next comes qualifications: candidates with degrees from top-tier institutions will score 20 points, while degree-equivalent qualifications score 10 points. This is to ensure that foreign professionals entering the workforce are highly skilled and complement their teams.
- Adding to the workforce’s diversity is another way to earn points – COMPASS will grant points if the nationality of the candidate improves the diversity of the company.
- Lastly, points will be allocated based on the firm’s employment of resident PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) as a percentage relative to industry peers.
Bonus points can be earned for applicants in key strategic sectors that have an occupation shortage. Smaller companies also need not worry about these changes, as the COMPASS system takes into account their hiring needs. Candidates applying for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be awarded half the passing marks by default.
Find out more about MOM’s new COMPASS system here.
Before applying for an EP visa, some documents required are as follows:
- Applicant’s passport particulars
- Other supporting documents if applicant’s name differs on the passport
- Chosen company’s latest business profile
- Applicant’s educational documents and certificates
Applying for an EP visa
Applying for the EP visa can be done fairly easily online, through MOM’s online portal – myMOM. The application fee for the visa is $105 for each pass. When you have your pass issued, it costs $225 for each pass. Applications are also mostly processed within 3 weeks. Find out more about applying for the EP visa here.
2. S Pass
The S Pass is also a work visa to Singapore but instead, targeted towards mid-level skilled staff. It differs from the EP since the S Pass factors in aspects like mandatory medical insurance, a quota and levy rates. Candidates also need to earn at least $2,500 a month instead of $5,000. Additionally, candidates must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for their work visa approval. Applications can be done online through myMOM.
- Government-issued identification card
- Applicant’s educational documents and certificates
- Vaccindation card or certificate
Tech.Pass is a visa that allows established tech entrepreneurs, leaders or technical experts from around the world to come to Singapore to perform frontier and disruptive innovations. This pass is administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board. This visa is best for founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies. The tech.pass is valid for two years and allows you to:
- Start and operate one or more tech companies
- Be an employee in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time
- Transit between employers or to an entrepreneur
- Be a consultant or mentor, lecture in local institutions of higher learning, or be an investor and director in one or more Singapore based companies
- Sponsor stay for spouse, children, and parents in Singapore on either a Dependant’s Pass (DP) or a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by MOM
- Renew for another two years, upon meeting renewal criteria
To be eligible for the pass, you must satisfy any two of the following conditions:
- Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100mil annual revenue.
To be eligible for a two-year renewal, you must:
- Have earned at least S$240,000 in assessable income based on the latest Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (can be made up of salaries and / or business income); OR
- Demonstrate total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and employ at least 1 local PME or 3 LQS
At the time of renewal, be performing at least two of the following roles, at least one of which must be in Column (A):
|1. Founded a company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service||1. Served on Board of Directors of a Singapore-based company (need not necessarily be tech company)|
|2. Served a leading role (e.g. CEO, CTO, APAC MD) in a Singapore-based tech company||2. Acted as advisor/mentor to a Singapore-based start-up|
|3. Served a leading role in two or more Singapore-based tech companies||3. Served as professor/lecturer/adjunct professor/adjunct lecture in a Singapore Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)|
|4. Employed in a technical role leading a team in a Singapore-based company, e.g. senior engineer or senior researcher leading a team in a particular tech field||4. Provided training in some form not covered by B2 or B3 above (e.g. workshops, corporate training classes).|
|5. Employed in a technical role leading a team in two or more Singapore-based companies||5. Invested in one or more Singapore-based tech companies|
- Original completed and signed application form
- Screenshot of banking page confirming that payment is successful
- Travel document page showing applicant’s personal particulars
- Documents to support the relevant eligibility criteria met
- Vaccination card or certificate
It takes 8 weeks for applications to be processed. It may take longer if additional information is required. If approved, you will receive an in-principal approval (IPA) letter by email. The IPA gives you 6 months to come to Singapore and get the pass issued. Submit your application for the tech.pass here.
4. Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
If you haven’t found a job yet, you might want to consider the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP). Think of the PEP as a VIP way to work in Singapore. It is much harder to secure, but if you do, you enjoy more perks. The PEP demands a minimum monthly salary of 18,000 SGD and an outstanding employment history in Singapore’s developing industries.
In return, you can enjoy employment freedom and flexibility because this work visa is personally yours, and not bound to your employer. Thus, you may swap employers as often as you like. The PEP can also springboard you to a Singaporean Permanent Resident (PR) status relatively easily. However, one drawback is that application has to be done by the individual. But you can always look for visa agencies to do the work for you.
5. Other types of visa passes
|Types of applicants||Visa type||Minimum salary/critera||Validity period||Renewable?||Bringing in family||Dependent family pass type||Long term family pass type|
|Foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a new business in Singapore||EntrePass||No stipulated minimum salary||1 year||Yes||Total Annual Business Spending: >100,000 SGD|
Employ: 3 FTEs or 1 PME
If bringing parents, Total Annual Business Spending > 200,000 SGD
Employ: 6 FTEs or
2 local PMEs
|Spouse (legally married)|
Unmarried children under 21 years of age, including those legally adopted
Unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old
Unmarried step-children under 21 years old
|High-earning overseas foreign professionals||Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)||Current EP holders > $12,000|
Overseas foreign professionals > $18,000
|3 years||No||Yes||Spouse (legally married)|
Children under 21 years of age
Unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old
Unmarried stepchildren under 21 years old
|Foreign performers working in public entertainment outlets such as bars, hotels and nightclubs||Work Permit for performing artiste||No stipulated minimum salary||6 months||No||No||–||–|
|Foreign workers from approved source countries working in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector||Work Permit for foreign worker||No minimum required||2 years||Yes||No||–||–|
|Foreigners employed as domestic helpers in Singapore||Work Permit for FDW||No minimum required||2 years||Yes||No||–||–|
|Malaysians employed as confinement nannies in Singapore||Work Permit for confinement nanny||No minimum required||16 weeks||No||No||–||–|
Speaking of visa agencies, if you’re migrating and looking for the best immigration consultants to move to Singapore, check out our article here.
Feeling ready to make the big move?