Expat Guide to Singapore Work Visa, Employment Pass (EP) & Long Term Visa
How can I get a visa to work in Singapore?
1. What is the easiest way to get a Singapore work visa?
Your employer will be doing most of the administrative work
The most hassle-free way to get a long term visa to Singapore is to secure employment with a Singapore registered company for an Employment Pass (EP). The EP may also be known as an ‘EP Pass’. The more well-established the company, the better. This will most likely guarantee you no headaches as your employer will be processing all the work required to secure you a 2-year (maximum of 5) EP.
Do you meet the minimum salary requirements for EP?
There are several minimum requirements, such as a minimum monthly employment pass salary, which can be found on MOM’s website. The minimum salary for EP is $3,600 Singapore Dollars per month.
Before you decide to work in Singapore, find out if you pass most of the basic requirements to be an employment pass holder. The Singapore EP application process may take up to 6 weeks, and is relatively cheap.
The EP can only be processed by an employer, thus you will need to have secured a job in Singapore before moving to Singapore.
Take note of the documents required for the Singapore EP application, which includes copies of passport details, and educational certificates. It may be handy to keep an electronic copy of these with you at all times. The other documents are listed here.
How to apply for the employment pass in Singapore?
The way to apply for an employment pass in Singapore depends if you’re an employee or an employer.
If you’re an employee, you must first secure a job offer from your employer. The employer will then proceed to take care of the administrative matters. Your employer will also be asking you for the necessary documents, so do prepare those in advance. The documents required for an EP Singapore includes:
- Travel Document Page showing the personal particulars and travel document number
- Educational Certificates
- If you’re from India or China, you will need additional educational materials.
- India: Transcripts and marksheets.
- China: Verification proof from Dataflow
If you are an employer or employment agency, you can use EP Online to perform Employment Pass transactions such as applying, checking status, issuing, renewing and cancelling.
Do you want to inquire about your Singapore Employment Pass Status?
An EP application typically takes 2-3 weeks but may be extended indefinitely if issues arise. The best way to know about our Employment Pass status is to ask your employer’s HR manager.
MOM has a tool to help you ask about your Singapore Employment Pass Status too.
2. What if my salary does not meet the Employment Pass minimum salary?
You might consider applying for a Special Pass (S Pass) instead to work in Singapore.
If you are a skilled technician with advanced expertise in industries such as chemicals, electronics, aerospace engineering, marine, or pharmaceuticals, the S Pass might be a better visa for you to work in Singapore.
For an S Pass, all you need would be a minimum salary and acceptable qualifications. The minimum monthly salary requirement is 2,300 SGD, and the employee should hold diplomas, degrees, certificates or work experience related to the developing industry in mind. Read up on other S Pass requirements and how to get an S Pass in Singapore here.
This 2-year SP can be extendable for a further 3 years.
3. What if I haven’t found a job in Singapore 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.
4. What if I want to start my own business in Singapore?
If you are looking to be your own boss in Singapore, you can consider the Entrepreneur Pass (Entrepass).
Entrepass holders must be able to demonstrate an entrepreneurial, investment or business track record, such as previously founded companies or other important accomplishments.
Singapore has recently laxed the requirements in 2017 such that paid-up capital is no longer required. However, to secure an Entrepass you must plan to start, or have already founded a company that is innovative and would contribute to Singapore’s employment.
Founded companies must be registered within 6 months after Entrepass approval, and no less than 30% of shares must be held by yourself. The EntrePass has a rather short lifespan of one year, but can be repeatedly renewed for 2 years.
There are 3 ways to qualify for the Entrepass: be an Entrepreneur, Innovator or Investor, each with different innovative criteria for application.
Note: Businesses such as hawker centres, bars, massage parlours, or employment agencies are not eligible for an Entrepass.
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5. What if I am just looking to invest in Singapore?
If you are a high-net individual seeking potential permanent residency for you and your family, instead of working in Singapore, the Investor Visa is a possible option.
To obtain an Investor Visa, you are required to make an investment of $2.5 million SGD into either a new/existing company or into a special fund under Singapore’s Global Investor Programme (GIP). There are other requirements as well, including financial statements of your own company from the last 3 years to demonstrate entrepreneurial success and a turnover of at least $50 million SGD. This must be a company where 30% of shares or more is owned by you.
Applicants who intend to invest in a new/existing company instead of a GIP fund must produce a 5-year business plan, carry it out, and present audited statements after the second and fourth year.
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6. Can I bring my spouse, children, parents or other family members to Singapore with a Dependant Pass?
If you’ve considered Singapore’s high cost of living and decide to bring your family with you, there are two main options: the Dependent Pass(DP) and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP).
For EP, S Pass, PEP and Entrepass holders, the most common way to bring your family with you when you work in Singapore is through the Dependant’s Pass (DP). Dependants include lawful spouses and unmarried native/legally adopted children under 21 years of age. Parents or other relatives are discussed later below.
Find more useful information regarding the dependant pass application here.
For dependants of EP/S Pass/PEP holders, the pass holder must:
- Work for a well-established firm in Singapore, and
- Earn 6,000 SGD or more
For dependants of Entrepass holders, the pass holder must:
- Have created 3 or more jobs for Singaporeans,
- Exceed 100k SGD of business spending,
- Earn 6,000 SGD or more, and
- Successfully pass the first-year visa renewal
The EP/S Pass/PEP holder’s employer must lodge the DP applications. DPs are valid for as long as the related work pass is valid, up to 2-years. DP is extendable.
Note that the government might reject a DP application if they notice that the main work pass holder’s earnings are insufficient or if their employer is performing badly.
7. What are the available jobs for Dependant Pass holders in Singapore?
Dependent pass holders are not bound to any specific jobs in Singapore.
However, employers tend to avoid the hassle of hiring dependant pass holders. To address this, make sure you know all about the employer’s obligations to reassure them that there is no hassle after all.
All one needs to do to go to work as a dependent is apply for a Letter of Consent from MOM. Note that the MOM website seems to lack information about the criteria used to grant a Letter of Consent. However, generally speaking, if you can find a job, you will simply be granted the letter once your employer applies for the Letter of Consent.
Some employers understand that the DP term is tied to the spouse’s EP term, which may or may not be renewed. It can’t be helped that employers want an employee that’s in for the long haul. It may be advisable to seek for jobs that have a high turnover rate, such as the foodservice industry.
8. How do I bring in my parents and relatives if they don’t meet the Dependant Pass criteria?
To bring your parents with you to Singapore, apply for a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), which is valid for the shorter of 2 years, or the main pass holder’s validity. This pass is also suitable for informal spouses, step/handicapped children, or other relatives.
The requirements for pass holders to obtain an LTVP for their parents are:
- Work for a well-established firm in Singapore, and
- Earn 12,000 SGD or more (6,000 SGD or more for children)
9. What pass should I get for my children who are above 21 years old?
If your children is above 21, then they need to apply for LTVP too if they do not intend to work in Singapore. If they intend to work in Singapore then they should embark on an application for a separate EP/PEP/S Pass/EntrePass independent of their parents’ passes.
10. Can DP holders work in Singapore?
For DP holders to work in Singapore, the dependant would require a Letter of Consent, which is only available for dependants of EP, Entrepass or PEP holders. Dependants of S Pass holders must apply for a Work Permit, S Pass or EP instead.
For instructions on how to get a work permit in Singapore, MOM answers most questions on how to get a work permit and how to apply for a work permit in Singapore.
Your employer should apply for the Letter of Consent on your behalf and you can only start working in Singapore after approval of the Letter of Consent.
11. Can LTVP holders work in Singapore?
Unfortunately, LTVP holders will not be able to work in Singapore without first obtaining either a work pass (EP/S Pass/Work Permit) or marrying a Singaporean or Permanent Resident.
12. Can pass holders start a family in Singapore?
If the monthly salary of either parent is at least 6,000 SGD, then the child also qualified for a special baby pass, otherwise the child must be deported overseas within 6 weeks.
13. How do I apply for a Permanent Residence (PR) in Singapore?
EP/PEP/S Pass/Entrepass holders are eligible to convert to a Permanent Resident (PR), through submitting salary slips from their past 6 months of working in Singapore after at least one year of working in Singapore.
The PR status is automatically granted to investors and their families when they make the minimum investment of SGD 2.5 million.
The perks of the PR status causes even the most premium employment visa to pale in comparison. Affordable housing and healthcare, better education for kids and business freedom are just some of the many perks that the PR enjoys.
What is a Permanent Resident in Singapore?
A migratory solution that empowers foreign employees and entrepreneurs to live indefinitely in the country of Singapore, the permanent resident visa allows them to avail the benefits and freedom enjoyed by the citizens of the country. It enables access to better healthcare, freedom to do business and freedom of employment, access to the Central provident fund, education and so on. It is one of the prime aims of the holders of the Employment Pass, S Pass and Entre Pass.
The Benefits of Permanent Residence (PR) In Singapore
Amongst the many benefits of the PR status, you will enjoy stability of residence, simplified traveling to and fro Singapore, gain the ability to sponsor family members for PR, more employment rewards, lower medical expenses, lower childcare and education expenses, the right to live off retirement years in the country, and cheaper real estate and housing. We also discuss whether the PR status is really worth it in a separate post.
The cons of a PR status
However, there are downsides to every upside and the cons of a PR status includes mandatory contribution to the Central Provident Fund (CPF), restriction from dual citizenship, mandatory National Service, and CPF withdrawal limitations. The full list is explained more thoroughly in our other post about the pros and cons of a PR status.
|Visa Types||Who is it For?||Minimum Monthly Salary (MMS)||Validity Term||Renewable?||Eligibility to bring Family:||Family Pass Type|
|Family Pass Type|
(Long Term Visit Pass)
|Can Pass Holder's Family Work in Singapore?
|Employment Pass (EP)||Foreign professionals with a job offer in Singapore||> $3,600||2 years||Yes|| MMS at least 6,000 ||Legal Spouse, Children under 21|| Common-law spouse, Stepchildren below 21, Parents ||Dependant's Pass - Yes, with a Letter of Consent
Long Term Visit Pass - No
|S Pass||Mid-skilled technical staff ||> $2,300||2 years||Yes|| MMS at least 6,000 || Legal Spouse, Children under 21 ||Dependant's Pass - No
Long Term Visit Pass - No
|Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)||High-earning overseas foreign professionals||> $18,000||3 years||No|| MMS at least 6,000 || Legal Spouse, Children under 21 || Common-law spouse, Stepchildren below 21, Parents ||Dependant's Pass - Yes, with a Letter of Consent
Long Term Visit Pass - No
(Spouse and Children Pass Only)
|Foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a new business in Singapore||No stipulated minimum salary||1 year||Yes||Total Annual Business Spending: >100,000 SGD|
Employ: 3 FTEs or 1 PME
|Legal Spouse, Children under 21||Dependant's Pass - Yes, with a Letter of Consent|
(With Parents Pass)
|Foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a new business in Singapore||No stipulated minimum salary||1 year||Yes||Total Annual Business Spending: >200,000 SGD|
Employ: 6 FTEs or 2 PME
|Legal Spouse, Children under 21|| Common-law spouse, Stepchildren below 21, Parents ||Dependant's Pass - Yes, with a Letter of Consent
Long Term Visit Pass - No
Note: Local FTEs refer to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents who earn a monthly salary of at least $1,200.
Local PMEs refer to professionals, managers and executives who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents, earn a monthly salary of at least $3,600.
There are many reasons to consider working in Singapore, and after this article demystifies the type of work visa most suitable for you, why not consider a change in lifestyle now to one of the world’s best places to work in?
Curious to know how much it costs to relocate to Singapore with us? Get an estimate now!
Other Useful Weblinks:
Ministry of Manpower: mom.gov.sg
Expat Living in SG: expatliving.sg
Singapore Employment Pass: singaporeemploymentpass.sg
Money Matters for Expats: moneymatters.com.sg
Singapore Personal Access (SingPass): singpass.gov.sg
Entrepreneur’s Resource Centre: erc.com.sg
International Enterprise (IE) Singapore: iesingapore.com
Economic Development Board: edb.gov.sg
Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority: acra.gov.sg