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 an EntrePass, a Multiple Journey Business Visa, a Work Holiday Pass, or a Miscellaneous Work Pass.
Work Visas in Singapore
We discuss all these eight options in the following paragraphs.
1) Getting a Singapore Work Permit (WP)
In Singapore, work permits 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 two additional considerations, in a bid to regulate foreign manpower in the city-state:
- The employer must the Foreign Worker Levy (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 – ratio of foreign workers in a Singapore company to the total workforce.
2) Getting a Singapore S Pass
In Singapore, S Pass is issued to mid-level skilled foreign workers. Moreover, like the Work Permit, two considerations of FWL and DRC (as described above) are also applicable to all S Pass holders in a Singapore company. While FWL ranges anything between S$315 and S$550 per worker, Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has mandated a sub-Dependency Ceiling (sub-DC) for S Pass holders in a service sector company as 15%. This ratio is 20% for companies operating in other sectors. While assessing an S Pass application, MOM looks at applicant’s qualifications, work experience, and a monthly salary of at least S$2,200 for young inexperienced applicants and more for experienced applicants.
3) Getting a Singapore Employment Pass (EP)
The MOM issues this normally for three years, and assess an EP application based on the nature of PME roles, whether the applicant has acceptable qualifications, and a monthly salary of at least S$3,900 for young inexperienced applicants and more for experienced applicants.
While the MOM doesn’t apply the considerations of FWL and DRC for EP applicants, it however does give preference to applicants from tier 1 regions. The applicant must also be complimenting the local workforce with his or her skills, and have been offered a salary commensurate with the skills. The company (employer) making the EP application for the potential employee must also demonstrate the intent of hiring a local first by advertising a job at jobsbank.gov.sg first.
Getting a Singapore Dependant Pass
Importantly, 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. Importantly, DP and LTVP holders can work in Singapore by applying for a Letter of Consent. 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 six months.
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. To counter this, from February 1, 2019, all applications of long-term immigration passes for foreign-born children are requiring documentation of diphtheria and measles vaccination. If the child cannot be vaccinated for some medical reasons, 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.
4) Getting a Singapore Personalised Employment Pass
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 six 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
5) Getting an EntrePass in Singapore
EntrePass is Singapore business visa which is granted to foreign entrepreneur willing to incorporate and run a private limited company in Singapore. MOM, along with SPRING Singapore are jointly responsible for this pass, and is normally granted to entrepreneurs looking to create innovative technologies and applications, or are investing in R&D-intensive enterprises dealing in bio-tech or clean-tech. To be successful, an EntrePass application must fulfil the following requirements:
- 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 institutes of higher learning
- the company must be based in a Singapore Government supported incubator
- the EntrePass applicant must own at least 30% of the company
- 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 draft business plan, which includes:
- how will the company spend at least S$100,000 in the first 12 months locally
- how will the company hire at least two Singaporean residents in the first 12 months
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.
6) Getting a Singapore Multiple Journey Business Visa
This visa’s validity can range from 1, 2 or even 5 years in some cases; and holders can visit the city-state multiple time during that time, with each visit lasting up to 30 days. This visa has been designed to streamline, encourage and smoothen the travel experience of business executives to Singapore.
7) Getting a Singapore Work Holiday Pass
The Work Holiday Pass, is a programme designed for eligible students and young graduates who want to work or holiday, or take up internships, in Singapore for up to 6 months. This is granted to students from Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, United States, and United Kingdom. There is no minimum requirement of salary, and the Work Holiday Pass holders are not restricted to any sectors, or type of work. The Singapore Government only grants up to 2,000 such applications at any given time, and the eligibility requirements for a Singapore Work Holiday Pass include:
- Age between 18 and 25 years
- Undergraduate applicants must full-time resident students of any of the eligible universities (world’s top 200) for at least 3 months before making the application.
- Graduates must have been former full-time resident students of any of the eligible universities (world’s top 200) in the last five years.
Foreign students not eligible as per the above, have the option of applying for a Training Employment Pass.
8) Getting a Singapore Miscellaneous Work Pass
Non-residents who want to work in Singapore on short-term assignments lasting up to 60 days, must apply for a Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP). This Pass has replaced the earlier Professional Visit Pass, and is valid for up to two months. The following needs to apply:
- a religious worker, or a person involved in activities such as seminar, workshop, gathering, conference, or talk, related to religion, race, community, or politics
- a foreign journalist, or an accompanying crew member who is not being sponsored by any of Singapore Government agencies.