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Singapore Employment Pass – A Comprehensive Guide for Applicants

In this article, you will learn about the Singapore Employment Pass (Singapore EP), a work visa developed for executives, managers, specialists, and professionals. This article highlights the EP eligibility requirements, approval criteria, application process, and timeline.

What is a Singapore Employment Pass?

The Singapore Employment Pass (also known as a Singapore EP) is a type of work visa in Singapore designed for executives, managers, specialists, and professionals who wish to conduct business in Singapore. Singapore’s MOM (Ministry of Manpower) also permits entrepreneurs to apply for an EP once they have incorporated a company in Singapore. This allows entrepreneurs to relocate to Singapore, as a means of running a company’s operations. 

A Singapore Employment Pass can be applied to the following:

  • Entrepreneurs, executives, and managing directors of a Singapore company, wishing to relocate to manage a company’s operations.
  • Locally incorporated Singapore companies that need to hire an overseas employee. 
  • An individual who has an employment offer from a Singapore company. If this is the case, an employer will make an EP application on the individual’s behalf.

What is needed before applying for a Singapore Employment Pass? 

Employment Pass applications are thoroughly assessed by Singapore’s MOM and consider a number of factors. These factors include an applicant’s work experience, qualifications, job scope, economic contribution, and employer track record. Applicants are also assessed on their ability to complement Singapore’s local workforce. Before obtaining a Singapore EP, applicants must possess at least one of the following:

  • Professional qualifications – either professional or educational 
  • A recognized diploma or degree qualification 
  • Specialist skills
  • Relevant work experience

In certain cases, an absence of recognized educational qualifications does not mean that an application will be automatically rejected. An applicant may be granted an EP if they can demonstrate additional factors in their application, including:

  • An excellent employer track record, high paid-up capital and tax contribution. 
  • Commendable job profile, salary, and work experience.
  • Strategic and in-demand skills in fast-growing industries like renewable energy.

It is important to note that recognized educational qualifications do not guarantee an EP being granted. 

Singapore Employment Pass eligibility

Those wishing to obtain an EP must earn a minimum of S$4,500 per month (in addition to the above criteria). Applicants in the financial sector need to earn at least S$5,000 per month. For older applicants, they should be earning a higher salary that aligns with their work experience.  

Singapore Employment Pass application procedure and timeline 

All EP applications are submitted and assessed by Singapore’s MOM. Applicants have the choice to submit applications either online or manually. 

Online applications need to be submitted with the required supporting documents, and typically take three or more weeks to process. 

Those with supporting documents (i.e. writing samples, employer testimonials, etc) highlighting other merits are encouraged to submit their application manually. The time it takes to process a manual application is at least five weeks, although this can be longer during peak periods. 

 

Who should apply for a Singapore Employment Pass online?

  • Applicants with significant experience or those who are subject matter experts in their chosen fields. 
  • Applicants who have been educated and graduated from reputable universities. 
  • Applicants who have attained high-level certification within their qualifications. This can include an MBA, ACIA, ACCA, CFA, etc. 
  • Applicants with extensive work experience. 
  • Applicants who are prominent within their industry or vocation, especially if that field has been identified as being key for Singapore’s economic development.

Who should apply for a Singapore Employment Pass manually?

  • Younger, inexperienced applicants who possess extensive co-curricular or leadership experience. 
  • Applicants with little or no formal education, who hold substantial informal vocational experience in key industries. This should be evidenced in the form of portfolios, completed projects, written testimonials, etc. 
  • Applicants with unsubstantial university qualifications may still apply, so long as they are nationals of emerging economies and possess desirable qualities.

Job Bank requirements

For companies seeking to hire Employment Pass holders, Singapore’s MOM stipulates they first advertise the position in the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s Job Bank. However, there are some exemptions that apply, including:

  • Jobs in companies with fewer than 10 employees 
  • Intra-corporate transferees (i.e. candidates holding senior positions or professionals with a higher level of expertise)
  • Jobs paying more than S$15,000 per month
  • Short-term positions of less than one month’s duration

Required documents for Employment Pass submission

When submitting an Employment Pass application, we request the following documents:

  • Copies of educational certificates and testimonials from past employers 
  • A copy of the personal particulars of the applicant’s passport
  • An updated resume or CV that outlines the applicant’s educational and employment history

Please Note: Documents not in English must be translated into English by an official translation provider. 

Singapore Employment Pass submission and timeline

Horizons electronically submits your EP application to Singapore’s MOM. By submitting your application electronically, this ensures you receive an outcome sooner. 

It typically takes three weeks or longer for MOM to process an application. Once receiving an In-Principle Approval Letter (known as an IPA), Horizons arranges for the collection of your EP. 

Please Note: For entrepreneurs, EP applications can only be lodged after your company has been incorporated. However, you do not need to be present in Singapore during the processing of an application. 

Approval and collection of a Singapore Employment Pass 

Upon the approval of an application, Singapore’s MOM issues an In-Principle Approval Letter (IPA) to the applicant. When collecting the EP at the Work Pass Division of MOM, the IPA letter must be produced. IPA letters are valid for a period of six months, from the date of notification of approval. 

When collecting an EP, all persons must present the following:

  • A recent passport-size photo
  • Their original passport with the entry embarkation cards 
  • A medical exam report may also be needed – if the IPA letter states that one is required 
  • Any additional documents as specified in the IPA letter 

For applicants that need to produce a medical exam report, this can be done in either their home country or Singapore. The advantage of having this done in Singapore is that most clinics offer medical examinations and reports within one day. 

Singapore Employment Pass validity

The validity of an EP is set out as follows:

  • For first time applications, an EP is valid for up to two years
  • For EP renewals, an EP is valid for up to three years

Entry Visa to Singapore 

For anyone overseas who requires an entry visa into Singapore, their IPA letter features a single journey entry visa. 

Once arriving in Singapore, Horizons can schedule an appointment with Singapore’s MOM on your behalf. This is typically needed for finger printing. Once these procedures are finalized, your Singapore EP is available in four working days. 

Passes can be collected in person at MOM. Alternatively, you can authorize a member of Horizons’ team to collect the pass on your behalf. 

What happens if a Singapore EP application is denied?

There may be occasional circumstances where an individual’s EP application is denied. If this occurs, Horizons can investigate further on your behalf. Based on the reasons outlined by Singapore’s MOM, we can submit an appeal. This will address those issues outlined, as well as separate documents that may be requested. 

Appeal reviews take at least three weeks to be finalized by MOM. 

Change of Employer 

All holders of an EP must apply for a new pass whenever they change employers. When applying for a new pass, holders are not required to first cancel their existing pass. Applications are assessed by MOM and consider an applicant’s work experience, qualifications, and employer credentials. A new EP will then be issued once an existing pass is canceled. 

Renewing an Employment Pass 

Two months prior to the expiration of an EP, MOM will mail an EP Renewal Form to the employer’s address. Holders are advised to submit the renewal application at least four weeks before the EP is due to expire. Upon approval, the employer will receive a letter of notification outlining when the new pass can be collected from MOM.

Relocation with family members 

EP holders may apply for a Dependant’s Pass (DP) and/or a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) for their immediate family members, so long as they meet certain conditions. It is important to note that a separate DP application should be made for every family member. Applications may be submitted on their own or together with the EP application. 

Singapore Dependant’s Pass

EP holders earning a minimum of S$6,000 per month can apply for a DP for their:

  • Spouse (legally married)
  • Unmarried children younger than 21, including legally adopted children

A DP holder’s spouse is legally entitled to work in Singapore. However, their prospective employer must apply for a Letter of Consent (LOC) with MOM before the commencement of work. 

Singapore Long-Term Visit Pass 

For individuals earning between S$6,000 and S$12,000 per month, they can apply for a LTVP for their:

  • Common law spouse 
  • Unmarried handicapped children above the age of 21
  • Unmarried step children below the age of 21

For individuals earning S$12,000 or more per month, they can apply for an LTVP for their:

  • Common law spouse 
  • Unmarried handicapped children above the age of 21
  • Unmarried step children below the age of 21 
  • Parents
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Processing Work Visas

Horizons is a licensed employment agency registered with Singapore’s MOM. We’re able to facilitate the placement of employees for local employers. Additionally, we can represent both employees and employers in the official submission of work pass applications. 

When engaging Horizons for your work visa services, you benefit from one dedicated specialist. This specialist will assist you by reviewing your candidacy, liaising with MOM on your behalf, applying for your work pass, processing renewals, and appeals, and monitoring your application. 

Long-term options after obtaining an Employment Pass 

After an Employment Pass has been obtained, those seeking a longer-term stay in Singapore have two options. These options are outlined below:

Singapore Permanent Residence 

For holders of the EP, they may apply for Singapore Permanent Residency through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers scheme (also known as the PTS). Those wishing to apply for Permanent Residency should wait at least six months before making an application. This is so they can provide the required six month’s salary. 

Singapore Personalised Employment Pass 

Eligible EP holders and those deemed as ‘gold collar’ professionals can also apply for a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP). The PEP is a type of work visa that is issued to top-tier individuals and based on a set of their own merits. This pass is independent of any employer and as such, holders may switch employers without affecting the status of a pass. 

Learn more: Guide to the Singapore Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)

How Horizons can help

As a licensed employment agency registered with Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Horizons provides a full range of employment solutions, including work pass services. Our team possesses an in-depth understanding of Singapore’s immigration laws and business landscape; and has assisted thousands of clients to secure their Employment Pass approval. We are proud to be the region’s leader in global hiring solutions; and are renowned for supporting professionals, entrepreneurs, and companies to successfully grow their Singapore operations. 

With the support of our Global PEO, we enable businesses to quickly and compliantly begin trading in Singapore, without the burden of establishing costly entities or foreign subsidiaries. This allows businesses to go to market in a matter of days and has the potential to save them up to 85% in traditional expansion costs. Through our Global PEO, we oversee your company’s recruitment, onboarding, global payroll, and tax and legal compliance. 

If you’d like to know more about any of our employment solutions, contact a member of our team today. 

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