- Country Name: Singapore
- Capital: Singapore
- Population: 5,535,000 (2015)
- Language: English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil
- Time Zone: SST (UTC+8)
- Dialing Code: +65
- Currency: Singapore Dollar
This FAQ has been created as an introductory guide to immigration procedures for Singapore. Since rules and requirements in every country are constantly changing and each case must be assessed on its own merits, for in-depth and up-to-date advice, please contact us.
Please note, we can only advise on matters relating to immigration and are unable support you with employment in a new region. We do however have a network of trusted partners that can support your move, so please visit Our Partners page for further information.
A broad range of industries are open to expats seeking work in Singapore. These include the finance, IT, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and tourism industries, as well as the advertising and marketing sectors.
Furthermore, many international corporations and businesses have their headquarters or regional bases here as Singapore is an ideal platform to reach into the nearby Asian markets
There are several different types of Employment Pass available for foreign nationals seeking to work in Singapore. The appropriate category will depend on the employees’ type of activities and company status. Below are the common categories work passes available:
Employment Pass (EP) – this is the most common category used by a company for both intra-company transfers and new foreign hires. This category is to cater for Professionals, Managers, and Executives. A separate sub-category known as S Pass is to cater for mid-level skilled foreign employees.
Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) – The PEP is for high-earning foreign professionals who meet the earning requirement. As the PEP is not tied to any employer, the holder is free to change employer without having to apply for a new EP. The validity of the PEP is 3 years and it is not renewable.
EntrePass – The Entrepreneur Pass is for eligible entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a business in Singapore. There are stringent requirements for this type of pass and qualifying businesses. Certain businesses such as coffee shops, bars, karaoke bars, massage parlours and employment agencies are not eligible.
Training Employment Pass (TEP) – This Pass is to cater for foreign employees undergoing short-term practical training in Singapore. A TEP is valid for 3 months and is not renewable.
Miscellaneous Work Pass – This is to cater for short-term assignments of up to 60 days. Examples of a Miscellaneous Work Pass include speakers at seminars, journalists, and religious workers.
Work Pass Exempt Activities – Foreigners can work in Singapore for a short time without a work pass provided this falls under the Work Pass Exempt Activities. Examples include providing expertise relating to the audit of new plant or equipment and the transfer of process/operations knowledge in Singapore. Note that the duration of the exemption is capped at a maximum of 60 days or the validity of the entry visa, whichever is shorter. It is further subjected to a cumulative total of 90 days per calendar year. A work pass is required if one works beyond 90 days.
Work Holiday Program – This is a program for eligible students or young graduates to work and holiday in Singapore for up to 6 months. The work pass is issued on a first come first served basis subject to a quota of 2,000 at any one time.
For corporate sponsored applications such as EP and TEP, the application can be submitted online or manually either by the employer or agency accredited by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Individuals can submit PEP, EntrePass and Work Holiday Program applications either manually or online via MOM website.
The following process is typical for Employment Pass application:
Advertise the job on Jobsbank for a minimum of 2 weeks
Submit Application for In-Principle Approval
Issuance of Notification Letter upon arrival of the applicant in Singapore
Registration of Biometric Data
Issuance and delivery of Long Term Pass card
The application materials required will vary depending on the type of work pass being applied for as well as the individual case. Typically, for a standard EP application, one will need to submit an education certificate, resume, and company registration certificate.
For an EP, the online application will typically take 1-2 weeks to be processed while manual applications can take 4-6 weeks. Bear in mind that in some cases where an individual background search or company qualification is required, the process timeline may extend beyond the standard time.
If your application is submitted manually via mail, or if a Sponsor is applying for you, the processing times are around 5 weeks.
For an EP, first-time applicants will usually be given a validity of up to 2 years. Subsequent renewals can be for up to 3 years.
If you are in Singapore on a tourist visa you may search and apply for jobs. Nationals from the United Kingdom do not normally need a visa to enter Singapore for up to 90 days for tourism purposes or business discussions.
However, you must make it clear to any prospective employers that you cannot undertake any form of work for them until they have applied for and been granted an Employment Pass on your behalf.
EP and S Pass holders with a minimum monthly fixed salary of S$5,000 or above and PEP holders are eligible to sponsor their spouses and unmarried children for a Dependent Pass (DP). Other family members such as common-law spouses, unmarried step children and parents are eligible for Long Term Visit Passes (LTVP).
Note that work pass holders will need to have a minimum monthly fixed salary of S$10,000 or higher in order to be eligible to sponsor LTVP for their parents.
Dependent Pass (DP) holders are allowed to work upon obtaining a Letter of Consent from the MOM. The application can be submitted by the employer of the dependent.
Alternatively, the dependent can also submit an application for any of the work visa categories mentioned earlier. Note that all applications will be reviewed based on the dependent’s merits. Upon approval of the work pass, the dependent will need to cancel his/her existing pass before the newly approved pass can be issued.
EP, PEP and EntrePass holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency after spending some time in Singapore. There is no standard qualifying timeframe. As a general indication, a minimum of 1 to 2 years is required.
Most OECD and ASEAN member countries do not require an entry visa to Singapore. Travellers from these countries can enter Singapore for up to 90 days. However, the duration of stay is granted at the discretion of the immigration officer at the point of entry.
Any visitor who requires an entry visa can apply for a single or multiple entry visa which is subject to approval. Note that a Singapore visa is not an immigration pass. It is a pre-entry permission for the holder of a valid Singapore visa to travel to, and seek entry, into Singapore. The issuance of an immigration pass will be determined by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the point of entry. Possession of a valid visa alone does not guarantee entry into Singapore.
You should plan the application process well ahead of time taking into consideration the timeline required for each process and also the time required for preparing the necessary documents. You should only make travel and lodging arrangements upon receiving the In-Principle Approval of your EP and DP applications.
An Immigration consultant can ensure that this part of the process goes smoothly. Please consult Newland Chase for more details. Relocation agents can help with securing accommodation and shipping items to Singapore to make the transition stress-free for you and any accompanying family members.