Singapore employment visas
Migration to the country can be an expensive and complicated process, with Singapore visa applications requiring extensive supporting documentation. Living costs in Singapore are very high compared to western countries. Families especially, may find the cost of housing and schooling to be extremely high compared to their home country. Hence, moving to Singapore requires detailed research and engaging the assistance of a corporate services firm to complete the same often proves valuable.
Different types of employment permits available in Singapore
- In Singapore there is a large variety of employment pass options. The requirements for each type of pass vary, and it is important to take note of the impact each employment pass may have on you and your family. The Ministry of Manpower website is a useful source of detailed information;
- Please find below more information on the different types of visas available in Singapore:
Work permits for skilled employees and entrepreneurs
- Employment Pass (EP): This is best for foreigners who wish to work in Singapore and already have an employer sponsoring them to work there. The pass is split on three levels, dependent on the salary offered by the employer: i) Q1: minimum S$3,300 monthly (3,600 from 2017 onwards) ii) P2 iii) P1: minimum S$8,000 monthly. There may also be education and skills requirements, such as having a recognized university degree or a skill certificate, but these are judged on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that the EP is specific to a job and employer and if the EP holder changes job or employer, they must apply for a new EP, with the new employer. Each EP can be valid for up to 3 years and is renewable; however, the duration of the pass is granted at the discretion of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), typically 2-3 years. The family of P1 and P2 holders are eligible for both Dependent’s Passes and Long Term Visit Passes. The family of Q1 are eligible for Dependent’s Pass only;
- Personalized Employment Pass (PEP): The requirements for the Singapore personalized employment pass is now: i) foreigners with a monthly salary of at least S$12,000 or a last drawn monthly salary of S$18,000 for overseas based foreigners and ii) fixed annual salary minimum of S$140,000. All PEP candidates must not have been unemployed for over 6 months before applying. There are also more specific work experience requirements dependent on salary and status. The PEP is valid for 3 years and is non-renewable. The Singapore PEP is not job specific and PEP holder’s do not need to change employment pass when changing jobs. PEP holders’ parents, spouse and children are eligible for both Dependent’s Pass and LTVP;
- EntrePass: This Singapore employment visa is specifically for entrepreneurs who have incorporated a company in Singapore. To be eligible for an EntrePass a person must have a company that is registered with ACRA. The company must have a minimum of S$50,000 paid up capital and the EntrePass applicant must have: i) at least 30% ownership and ii) be actively involved in the running of the firm. The pass is split on two levels dependent on salary: P and Q1. Entrepreneurs in various industries of work are not eligible for an EntrePass such as coffee shops, foot reflexology, bars and night clubs. Family members of EntrePass holders are eligible for both Dependent’s Pass and LTVP, dependent on standard criteria.
Work permits for unskilled employees
- Foreign Worker Work Permit (FWWP): This Singapore employment pass applies to foreigners who do not earn more than S$2,000 monthly and are above 16 years of age. The pass also requires that candidates come under ‘skilled worker’ category and various requirements exist dependent on the industry of work. In accordance with the skills involved for the job and the nationality of the FWWP holder, the permit is valid until the holder is a maximum of 60 years of age, or 6/18/unlimited years, whichever comes sooner. The family of work permit holders are not eligible for a DP or LTVP and therefore cannot live in Singapore unless they obtain a separate alternative pass of their own;
- Foreign Domestic Worker Work Permit (FDWWP): This employment visa is best for foreigners who wish to work in Singapore as a Domestic Worker. Eligibility varies depending on whether the applicant has worked in Singapore before or is applying to work in Singapore for the first time. i) First time applicants must be between 23 and 50 years of age upon application and have a minimum of 8 years of formal education with documentation as proof ii) Applicants who have work experience in Singapore are simply required to be a minimum of 18 years of age upon application. The FDWWP is valid the duration of the approved domestic worker job or until the holder is a maximum of 60 years old, whichever comes sooner. The family of foreign domestic workers are not eligible for DP or LTVP and cannot live in Singapore unless they obtain a separate alternative pass of their own;
- S Pass: This Singapore work pass is appropriate for foreigners who are skilled and earn a minimum of S$2,000/month. The applications for S Pass are judged on a points system, based on: i) salary – minimum S$2,000/month; ii) skills and education – i.e. university degree or skills certificate; iii) job type – industry and position; and iv) work experience – years in relevant field. The S Pass is valid for 2-3 years and is renewable. The family of S Pass holders can be eligible for a Dependent’s Pass if the S Pass holder earns over S$2,800.
Entry permits for family members
- Dependent’s Pass: This Singapore pass is applicable to direct family members of EP, PEP, EntrePass and S Pass holders. To qualify as a dependent of a singapore EP/PEP/EntrePass/S Pass holder, a person must either be: i) a spouse of the holder; ii) a child of the holder, under 21 years old; iii) a legally-adopted child of holder, under 21 years old; or iv) a step-child of holder, under 21 years old. The dependent’s pass is valid for the duration of the EP/PEP/EntrePass/S Pass on which it is dependent. It should be noted that a dependent’s pass is an authorization to live and study in Singapore, but not to work. If a dependent’s pass holder wishes to work in Singapore, instructions can be found on the Ministry of Manpower website. When the child of the EP/PEP/EntrePass holder is no longer eligible (e.g. above 21 years old) they may be eligible for a LTVP;
- Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP): This Singapore visa is applicable only for direct family members of EP status P1 or P2, PEP status P1 or P2 and EntrePass status P. Direct family members are limited to: i) common-law spouse; ii) unmarried daughters, above 21 years of age; iii) handicapped children, above 21 years of age; iv) step children; and v) parents and parents-in-law. The LTVP is valid for up to 60 months (5 years) or the duration of the EP/PEP/EntrePass, whichever is shortest. Like the DP, the LTVP is not an authorization to work in Singapore and LTVP holders require their own form of employment pass to work there. The LTVP allows the holder to live in Singapore, but if the LTVP holder wishes to study in Singapore, they may need a Student Pass.
Singapore Permanent Residence Scheme
- The Singapore Global Investor Program encourages investors to invest in industries including biomedical sciences, new technology, clean energy and media. Entrepreneurs can invest at least S$2.5 million i) in a new business startup or ii) expansion of an existing business entity or iii) in a GIP approved fund;
- To be eligible for the Global Investor Program, applicants with a successful business track record need to meet the following criteria:
- The applicants company turnover must be S$50 million in the most recent year and average S$50 million over the last 3 years;
- Minimum 3 years entrepreneurial/business experience, with 3 years audited financial statements.
- The cancellation of the FIS has reduced the options for high net worth foreigners to gain permanent residence status in Singapore, however the GIP is still an adequate program that allows successful entrepreneurs to migrate to Singapore;
- There is also the Professional, Technical Personnel, Skilled Worker permanent residence scheme, which most foreigners that work in Singapore pursue.
Frequently asked questions
I am setting up a company in Singapore and want to apply for an entrepreneur pass. Am I eligible?Clients seeking an EntrePass must fulfill certain criteria. The company must have a minimum paid up capital of US$50,000 and the applicant must hold at least 30% of shares in the company. Furthermore, the company must meet at least one of the following requirements: i) receives funding or investment from a recognized third-party VC or business angel who is accredited by a Singapore Government agency ii) holds an IP that is registered with an approved national IP institution iii) has ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognized by A*STAR or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore iv) is an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator.
I want to pursue Singapore employment pass application. How do I find out if I will be eligible?Clients pursuing an E pass or an S pass can take a Self-Assessment Test to determine whether they will be eligible for an E pass or an S pass.