To legally work in Singapore, all foreign citizens must obtain a work visa first. Thus, after registering a Singapore company, all potential employers must apply for relevant types of work visas for all their foreign employees. These can be any of the following three work visa options, which are determined mainly by the employee’s skills-set, experience and salary offered.
- Work Permit (WP) – which is granted mainly to labourers and domestic workers
- S Pass – which is granted mainly to mid-level skilled workers
- Employment Passes (EP) – which is granted to experienced professionals, managers, or executive personnels, with good credentials.
Another category of work visa in Singapore is the Singapore Personalised Employment Pass, which is granted to the employee and is not tied to any employer (more on this below). Then there are other options such as ONE Pass, Tech.Pass or EntrePass.
Work Visas in Singapore
We discuss all 9 work visa options in Singapore below :
- Employment Pass (EP)
- Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
- ONE Pass
- S Pass
- Work Permit
- Permanent Residence (PR) Application
1. Employment Pass (EP)
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) usually issues this with a 3-year validity and assesses an EP application based on the nature of PME roles, whether the applicant has acceptable qualifications and a monthly salary of at least S$5,000 for new applicants that increases with age. The minimum qualifying salary for EPs in the financial services sector is S$5,500 for new applicants.
The applicant’s employer or appointed employment agent must help to apply on their behalf. There is no foreign worker levy (FWL) nor quota needed as well, but the employer making the EP application for the potential employee must also demonstrate the intent of hiring a local by advertising a job on MyCareersFuture first. Employers must adhere to the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) guidelines to ensure that they consider all employees fairly.
Getting a Singapore Dependant Pass
EP holders with a salary of S$6,000 or above per month can bring their families to Singapore. The two options here are a Dependant Pass (DP), or a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), both of whose validity is connected to the EP holder’s visa validity. DP holders who wish to work in Singapore must obtain either an Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit.
This requirement will not affect LTVP holders and they can work in Singapore by applying for a Letter of Consent (LOC). Moreover, EP holders, and their attached DP and LTVP holders can apply for Singapore permanent residency, after having lived in the city-state continuously for 6 months.
*Note that the newly implemented COMPASS Framework will commence on 1st September 2023. New EP applicants are to pass this criteria to obtain an EP. This also applies to renewals from 1st September 2024. Learn more here.
Verification of Vaccination Requirements (VR) for Children 12 Years Old and Below
In recent years, Singapore has witnessed lots of cases of foreign children who have been either not vaccinated against diphtheria and measles in their home countries, or whose vaccinated status cannot be ascertained independently by Singapore authorities. Hence, all applications for long-term immigration passes for foreign-born children require documentation of diphtheria and measles vaccination. If the child cannot be vaccinated for some medical reason, a doctor’s certificate stating the reasons is mandatory.
Firstly, this documented proof of vaccination is to be submitted to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB), which then verifies it in accordance with Singapore’s National Childhood Immunisation Schedule. The outcome is notified via email. The validity period of such a VR document thus granted differs according to the child’s age.
Importantly, children born locally to Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident parents or foreigners, are not subject to these VR.
2. Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
This special category called the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is issued to top-tier professionals and is not tied to any employer. When granted, PEP holders are allowed to pursue any employment and are not required to reapply to MOM when they change jobs. But the Ministry does place a threshold of salary for individuals to apply for a PEP:
- Last drawn (within 6 months) fixed monthly overseas salary must be at least S$18,000
- Singapore’s EP holders with a monthly salary of S$12,000 or above can also apply for a PEP
*Note: From 1 September 2023, the fixed monthly salary criteria for both existing EP holders and overseas foreign professionals will be raised to S$22,500.
If your PEP is approved after 1 September 2023, you must earn a fixed salary of at least S$270,000 per calendar year.
3. ONE Pass
Singapore’s newest Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) work pass targets outstanding top talents in fields like science, sports, and the arts. It is a 5-year-long work pass launching on 1 Jan 2023 that aims to put Singapore at the forefront of the global fight to attract the best talents.
There is no limit to the number of pass holders allowed, therefore enabling the country to go all out in competing at the higher end of the international economy.
The ONE pass offers plenty of benefits to pass holders beyond that of other work passes like the EP and Tech.Pass, such as work flexibility and allowing spouses to work with a Letter of Consent, rather than based on their own capabilities and achievements. Pass holders can start, manage, and work for more than 1 company at the same time. Its longer validity also offers added assurance that potential applicants need in their decision to come to Singapore.
The requirements are:
- Applicants must have been earning at least S$30,000 a month within the past year
- Applicants with exceptional achievements in sports, research and academia, and arts and culture may not need to meet the S$30,000 monthly salary criteria
- Applicants with no recent employment history in the city-state must show that they have worked or will be working for a prominent company that has a minimal market value of US$500 million/S$700 million or annual revenue of US$200 million
Applicants renewing their ONE pass must fulfil these criteria:
- Have been earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 a month over the last 5 years in Singapore
- Began and is running a Singapore-based business that employs a minimum of 5 locals earning at least S$5,000 each
This programme was established to support fast-growing businesses in getting the key talent they need to expand and scale their operations in Singapore and the region. It is disbursed by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG).
Tech@SG offers company-level endorsement to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to lower rejection risks for these companies’ Employment Pass (EP) applications. Businesses that apply for this programme must meet these requirements:
- Start a business entity in Singapore with the Accounting and Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
- Your main business product or service must be a digital or technology offering
- Business activities that fall under these categories will not be eligible for support:
- Hawker centres/coffee shops/food courts
- Bars/nightclubs/karaoke lounges
- Foot reflexology/massage parlours/acupuncture
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)/herbal dispensing businesses
- Employment agencies
- Geomancy businesses
- Obtained investment funding of over US$10 million (cumulative) in the last 3 years
- Obtained funding (no minimum amount) from a recognised investment firm in the last 3 years
The individuals whom you are applying EPs for must also meet these requirements:
- Must have a fixed monthly salary of at least S$5,000
- Passes MOM’s background and due diligence checking
- Considered a main team member who meets these conditions for functional role and seniority:
- Applicants must be in roles under core business functions or technical functions
- Applicants must be in roles that are at least manager-level
Related Read: The Role of PEO in Business Expansion in Singapore
The Tech.Pass visa enables global tech leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals to come to Singapore to conduct cutting-edge innovations. It is administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and aims to position the country as a leading regional tech hub by creating a robust base of technology firms and talent.
Tech.Pass holders have relatively more flexibility than the EP and EntrePass passes as they need not have employer sponsorship, hence allowing them to work or be a part of more than 1 firm or position. They can also opt to operate tech companies, be a company shareholder or investor, lecture in Singapore universities or polytechnics, or conduct corporate training.
Applicants must meet these requirements to apply for the pass:
- Must have been earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$22,500 over the past year (effective 1st September 2023)
- Have a minimum of 5 cumulative years of experience in a leading position in a tech business with a valuation or market cap of at least US$500 million/S$675 million or US$30 million/S$41 million funding
- Have a minimum of 5 cumulative years of experience in a leading position in a tech product’s development with at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100 million/S$135 million in revenue
Related Read: How PEO Services Benefit When Expanding into Singapore
6. Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)
EntrePass is a Singapore business visa under Startup SG Talent that is granted to foreign entrepreneurs willing to incorporate and run a private limited company in Singapore. If the firm is already registered, it must be less than 6 months old on the date of application. This pass is normally granted to entrepreneurs looking to create innovative technologies and applications, or are venture-backed. To be successful, an EntrePass application must fulfill any of the following requirements as an entrepreneur, investor, or innovator:
- Funding from a Singapore government agency accredited business angel, or a recognised third-party VC, of at least S$100,000
- Possessing an IP registered with an approved national IP institution (any shareholder in the company can do that)
- Continuous and ongoing research collaboration with any of Singapore’s institutes of higher learning
- The company must be a current incubatee in a Singapore government-supported incubator
- The EntrePass applicant must have outstanding achievements in primary areas of expertise
- Company’s paid-up capital must be at least S$50,000 (a Singapore bank statement is needed)
The EntrePass applicant must also submit a 10-page (maximum) draft business plan, which includes information like:
- Products and services provided
- Supporting documents like product certificates
- Market analysis and operation plan
- Management team profile
Do note that the renewal of an EntrePass depends on the company fulfilling the above two objectives and blue-print as mentioned in the business plan.
EntrePass holders can also bring their families to Singapore on DP and LTVP and can apply for permanent residency. But they can do so only when they renew their EntrePass, and not when it is granted for the first time.
7. S Pass
In Singapore, the S Pass is issued to mid-level skilled foreign workers. While assessing an S Pass application, MOM looks at the applicant’s qualifications, work experience, and a monthly salary of at least S$3,150 for new applicants, which increases with age.
New applicants in the financial services sector must earn a minimum fixed monthly salary of S$3,650. The minimum salary for S Pass renewals is S$3,500 for the financial sector and S$3,000 for other sectors (from 1 September 2023).
Employers must pay a FWL of S$550 for S Pass workers (Tier 1) and follow the quota of 10% of the firm’s total workforce (in the services sector) and 15% (in the manufacturing, process, marine shipyard, and construction industries).
8. Work Permit (WP)
In Singapore, work permit holders are basic-skilled workers, mainly labourers and domestic workers, from a pre-approved source territory. Here, the minimum age for the applicant is 18 years for all non-domestic foreign workers; and the upper limit is 58 years for Malaysians, and 50 years for non-Malaysians. When making the application for a Work Permit, the employer must keep in mind the sector, in which the applicant is going to work. This is so, as for WP applications, the Singapore Government has put in 2 additional considerations to regulate foreign manpower in the city-state:
- The employer must pay the FWL for their work permit holders, whose amount is determined by the sector the worker will work in, as well as his or her educational qualifications and skills involved
- The employer must adhere to the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC), which is defined as – the ratio of foreign workers in a Singapore company to the total workforce
9. Permanent Residence (PR) Application
Having a permanent residency (PR) in Singapore allows a foreigner to live in Singapore on a permanent basis. Before you can apply for PR, you must meet one of these criteria:
- Spouse of a Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident (PR)
- Unmarried child aged below 21 years old, born within the context of a legal marriage to, or have been legally adopted by, a Singapore citizen or PR
- Aged parent of a Singapore citizen
- Holder of an Employment Pass or S Pass
- Student studying in Singapore
- Foreign investor in Singapore
If you fall under one of these categories, you are eligible to apply for PR. Eligible applicants should note that ICA will take into account various factors when evaluating an applicant’s potential to contribute to Singapore and become a part of our society. These factors include:
- Family connections to Singaporeans
- Economic contributions
- Family situation
- Duration of residency
Why should I engage an immigration service provider to get work passes for my employees?
- There are many eligibility requirements that you must meet for each work pass. InCorp’s professional immigration team can help you to fulfil them and secure work passes for your employees with our in-depth experience.
- Yes. Foreign nationals require an appropriate work visa or permit to work and earn income in Singapore.
- Yes, foreign nationals on an appropriate work visa will be charged income tax according to the appropriate tax bracket they qualify for.
- PEO stands for Professional Employer Organisation. A good PEO works with enterprises of all sizes to assist them in managing staff employment, ensuring payroll compliance, running day-to-day human resources (HR) tasks, as well as administering employee benefits. A PEO has global implications for businesses that have ambitions to expand overseas. By tapping into InCorp's PEO services in Singapore, an expanding company can take a reasonable hands-off approach to the regulatory side of foreign recruitment and HR. Talk to us today!