Singapore Work Permit
The prospect of earning salaries that are much higher than what foreigners can earn in their own countries is a major temptation for many foreign nationals who come to work in Singapore.
However, jobs in Singapore demand more than the Singapore work permit – they require thorough preparation. You should be prepared to take Singapore as it is with all of its difficulties, contradictions and challenges. You will be confronted with problems that in all possibility did not even cross your mind when you started the Singapore job search.
Do not take too lightly the influence the Singapore work permit/pass can have on the outcome of your adventure! Think, for example, you will experience the unfamiliar immigration rules and practices, strange job application procedures, bizarre job selection trends and weird management culture.
Most visits to Singapore are trouble-free but you should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against Western interests and civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, hotels, clubs and shopping areas. In recent years the Singaporean authorities have carried out a number of investigations and operations against terrorist networks.
You should exercise a high level of security awareness and monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. Ensure that your travel documents and visas are current, valid and secured in a safe place. Carry a photocopy of your travel documents in lieu of the originals. Maintain a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, and exercise caution while driving. Making local contacts quickly and seeking support from other expatriates will greatly increase your comfort and safety.
Singapore has several categories of visas for individuals wishing to study, work or visit. For foreign students and visitors, the process is easy to follow. Foreigners seeking jobs in Singapore will find the process more complex.
Foreign nationals, who want to work in Singapore, MUST apply for employment passes/work permits before arrival in Singapore. Employers who hire foreigners without valid work permits/passes can be prosecuted.
Foreigners found working without a valid Singapore work visa/permit are liable to prosecution and/or hefty fines. Authorities may also impose caning for immigration violations
Passport and the Singapore Work Permit
To enter Singapore all foreign nationals need to have:
- A passport with at least 6 months of validity remaining and two blank pages
- Enough money to last the intended duration of stay
- Confirmed onward/return ticket
- Completed the disembarkation/embarkation card
- A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, depending on which country you are coming from
- A valid Singapore visa
Singapore Work Permit
There are different Singapore Work Permits depending on the level of incomes, purposes and duration of stay. The monthly salary determines which type of Employment Pass (EP) or Work Permit (WP) for Singapore is needed. Generally speaking, Employment Passes apply to those who earn more than SGD2,800 per month and Work Permits are for workers with a lower income.
If you want to live and work in Singapore on a long-term basis, you must obtain a Work Permit or Employment Pass through your prospective employer. Employment Passes carry an annual fee of SGD30 per year and take about six weeks to process.
Professionals who have the qualifications and skills, which are in demand (particularly professionals in the high technology and IT industries); can easily secure an employment pass. Approval in principle is given within a week and formal approval is given within six weeks.
A foreigner is required to apply for a student's pass if s/he has been accepted by an educational institution to pursue full-time studies in Singapore. Foreign students in Singapore are not allowed to work during term time or vacation time unless they are granted a work pass exemption. Foreign students who wish to take up any work must apply for the Training Work Permit (TWP), the Training Employment Pass (TEP) or the Work Holiday Pass.
Work Holiday Pass
The Work Holiday Programme is applicable to University undergraduates and graduates aged 18 to 25 studying in universities of Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States ranked among the top 200 for overall academic performance. Work Holiday Pass application fee is SGD150. So, check your Work Holiday Pass Eligibility.
Professional Visit Pass (PVP)
Foreigners must hold a Professional Visit Pass if they are taking a short-term professional assignment in Singapore. Instances in which a Professional Visit Pass might be appropriate include conducting or participating in conferences, seminars, workshops, or gatherings of a racial, communal, religious, cause-related, or political nature; covering an event or writing a story as a journalist, reporter, or accompanying crew member; giving a talk as a religious worker; or performing as an artist at a nightclub, pub, lounge, or another entertainment venue.
Employment Pass (EP)
Typically, a manager, executive, specialist and foreign professional who have a suitable job offer from a company in Singapore need to secure an Employment Pass (EP).
There are three categories of Employment Passes:
- P1 Employment Pass for ex-pats with a fixed monthly salary of SGD8,000
- P2 Employment Pass for ex-pats with a fixed monthly salary of SGD4,500
- Q1 Employment Pass for young graduates with a minimum income of SGD3,000 and older applicants with higher monthly salaries and considerable work experience
You can use the Pass Navigator at the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore to find out if you qualify for an Employment Pass and which type of pass you need.
Your employer has to submit your application for a Singapore work permit. If a company, which is located overseas hires you, a company based in Singapore, has to act as a sponsor.
As an Employment Pass holder, you are eligible to apply for a Dependency Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass for your spouse and/or unmarried children under 21. These dependents can then apply for a Letter of Consent (LOC), which would permit them to be employed in Singapore. A separate application for each of your family member is required.
Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)
Foreigners can apply for a special Singapore work permit called the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP). They are eligible if their last fixed monthly salary overseas was at least SGD18,000 or if they hold a P1 Pass and make at least SGD12,000 per month.
Currently, the minimum annual salary is SGD144,000. The Personalized Employment Pass is valid for three years. This way, the Singaporean government determined that the PEP is available to top-tier foreign professionals. The goal is to raise the quality of Employment Pass holders.
You cannot apply for a PEP if you
- have received an Employment Pass under the Sponsorship Scheme
- want to work on a freelance basis without a direct employer
- are working as a journalist, editor, sub-editor or producer
- are listed as “Director”, “Partner”, or “Sole-Proprietor” in a business registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
Unlike other Singapore work permits, the PEP allows you to work in any sector without reapplying when changing jobs. If you lose or quit your job, you have six months to find a new employer. The PEP can be issued only once and is not renewable.
The S Pass is most common for a worker, who earns at least SGD1,800 monthly. Other factors such as qualifications, skills, experience and job type influents the procurement of this pass. The company is expected to pay a 25% quota and the individual is required to pay an SGD50 fee for the S Pass. You can apply for a Dependency Pass if your monthly salary is at least SGD2,500. However, the dependent of an EP Pass holder can apply for a LOC, while dependent on the S Pass holder must apply for a P/Q/S/R Pass to work.
R Pass/Work Permit
Foreigners that do not qualify for the S or EP Pass may apply for an R Pass or Work Permit. Depending on the industry, the pass is awarded varying levels of difficulty. The company is subject to paying a levy and other restrictions may apply depending on the industry
Entrepreneurs who would like to start a business in Singapore can apply for the Entre Pass. The business plan is reviewed by two agencies (MOM and SPRING). Business proposals for things like coffee shops, food courts, massage parlours and other similar activities will not be approved.
Training Employment Pass (TEP)
To receive training for upper-level jobs in Singapore, such as an executive or specialist, the Training Employment Pass would need to be obtained first. The company would be subject to paying a levy in cases like these. Similar to the Employment Pass, a minimum guaranteed salary of SGD2,500 per month is required.
Training Work Permit (TWP)
The Training Work Permit is similar to the TEP and is for those who do not qualify for the TEP.
The Work Permit (WP) is for foreigners who:
- Want to work in Singapore and
- Are from an approved source country/territory (depending on the sector, which the foreigner is going to be employed).
A prospective employer must first apply for a WP before employing a foreign worker. Prior to that, employers who have never applied for WP or S Passes before are required to declare their business activity.
They are also responsible for:
- Furnishing up an SGD5,000 security bond in the form of an insurance/banker's guarantee prior to his/her arrival in Singapore, failing which entry into Singapore will not be allowed.
- Ensure that the foreign worker does not engage in any form of:
- Employment other than that stated in the WP or
- A freelance arrangement or self-employment.
For further information about the Singapore work permit, contact the Singaporean embassy or consulate in your home country
Other Singapore Work Permit Info
To be successful in your Singapore job search and getting the job you want, you need to prepare a Singapore cover letter and Singapore CV which you must email instantly to the prospective employers selected during a job search in Singapore.
When you receive an invitation to the Singapore job interview, you may apply for a Singapore visa and Singapore work permit/pass. Then prepare yourself for a job interview and take a look at the Singapore dress code because how you dress is one of the most important attributes in not hired for available jobs.
Good luck with your Singapore work permit.