Why Apply for a Singapore Employment Pass
All foreigners need to get work visas approved by the Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before they start working for an employer in the country. The work visas may be either work permit, S Pass or an Employment Pass (EP), which is most popular among experienced professionals, managerial personnel, executives or specialists with good credentials.
While governed by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers don’t face the restrictions of foreign workers levy (work permit) and foreign workers quota (S Pass) while applying for employment passes.
Importantly, according to the Singapore laws, foreigners are not allowed to apply for an EP themselves. Instead, its always the employer or an authorised third party (such as Singapore Incorporation) which makes the application to MOM.
Mainly, the following three categories apply for a Singapore EP (directly or indirectly) more often:
- a foreigner who has secured an employment offer from a Singapore firm (the firm hiring the foreigner applies for the EP)
- a locally-incorporated Singapore company hiring a foreigner
- a director or senior management of a Singapore company who wish to relocate their operations to Singapore (the relocating company applies for the EP)
A Step-by-Step Guide on Applying for a Singapore Employment Pass
Increase Your Chances of a Successful Employment Pass Application in Singapore
With the introduction of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) in August this year, employers in Singapore need to be mindful of the following exhaustive considerations to increase their chances of obtaining approval for an EP application:
- if your company belongs to a niche industry or has a successful track-record of more than three years
- if the applicant’s skills-set compliments the local work-force
- if the applicant is a native of tier one countries/region
- if the negotiated salary is as per local industry standards (for middle-level positions, it must be above S$4,500 per month, while for senior positions, the appropriate salary crosses S$8,000)
- if you had used the government’s new job portal www.jobsbank.gov.sg, which demonstrates your intentions of hiring locals first (please click here to read more on FCF)
- if you have achieved a positive Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) outcome, which is MOM’s free online tool to assess whether a candidate meets the EP requirements
Who is Eligible for a Employment Pass in Singapore
The eligibility conditions for a Singapore EP, normally issued for three years, are:
- managerial or executive roles, or specialised jobs
- the applicant is being employed at a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,300 or at current market rates (do note the S$3,300 qualifying limit is only for young graduates from good institutions as experienced candidates need higher salaries to qualify)
- the applicant possesses acceptable qualifications (again, do note that as MOM doesn’t have a list of approved institutions for educational and other qualifications, it evaluates every institution on its own merit, based on criteria such as global and country rankings, and enrolment standards)
Procedure for Making an Employment Pass Application in Singapore
The following documents are required for an EP application:
- personal particulars page of the applicant’s passport
- 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
For documents not in English, an English translation must be provided.
Applicants from India and China, also need to submit:
- Indian applicants – transcripts and mark-sheets
- Chinese applicants – certificate of graduation and verification proof of these certificates.
You can use EP Online – a government portal operated by the MOM to perform all EP related transactions (including cancellation, renewal and family passes), which reduces the processing time remarkably. If the application is made using EP Online, the processing time is between 7-14 working days, while manual applications take around five weeks.
Do note that an overseas employer with no registered office in Singapore must get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor and apply manually on its behalf. Click here to read more about SIN’s service here.
Family Passes for Employment Pass Holders in Singapore
Importantly, Singapore Employment Pass holders who earn at least S$4,000 per month can bring their family members to Singapore, for which a separate application for each family member needs to be submitted. Do remember along with the duly completed application forms, MOM will require document(s) establishing the applicant’s relationship with the EP holder before issuing the family passes.
There are two available options:
1) Dependant Pass in Singapore: for legally married spouse, and unmarried children (including the adopted ones) under 21 years.
Letter of Consent for Singapore Dependant Pass Holder
Aside from the option of securing an EP for themselves, DP holders in Singapore can opt for the Letter of Consent (LOC) stream, which is much easier to get.
The LOC application, like the EP’s, is made by the employer. The only catch is 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.
2) Long Term Visit Pass in Singapore: for common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years, step-children under 21, parents (only if the EP holders earns more than S$8,000 per month)
Appealing a Singapore Employment Pass Application Rejection
With MOM adopting stringent EP framework recently, sometimes even worthy candidates are getting their EP applications rejected nowadays.
But making a strong appeal against the rejection can help overturn the initial rejection, an area where Singapore Incorporation can help you. Do note that 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. As with the EP application, an appeal against the rejection must also be made either by the employer or an authorised third party. An appeal takes at least three weeks to process an appeal matter.
Renewal of a Singapore Employment Pass
The renewal of an EP is possible any time under six months of the Pass’ expiry date. Normally, 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.
Cancel a Singapore Employment Pass
With the cancellation of an EP:
- all related family passes (dependant pass and long term visit passes) must also be cancelled
- a tax clearance must be obtained from the 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
Permanent Residency Option for a Singapore Employment Pass Holder
The only option for EP holders to apply for permanent residency (PR) in Singapore is through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme. While there is no magic formula to attain Singapore’s permanent residency, applicants with relevant skills, educational qualifications, and professional and financial background generally fare better.
As you are required to furnish proof of six months’ salary, it’s always advisable to wait for at least six months before making the PR application. An applicant’s spouse and children aged under 21 years may also apply for Singapore PR status together with the applicant. But do note that male dependants will be liable for Singapore National Service once they are granted permanent residency.