Difference between an EP and an S Pass

As a business owner in Singapore, expanding your team and hiring foreign talents can be a game-changer for your business. However, before starting the hiring process, it is important to understand the differences between the Singapore Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass, work visas issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for foreign professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) who wish to work in Singapore.

Learn More – Benefits Of Having An Employment Pass In Singapore

The S Pass is meant for mid-level skilled PMETs who have relevant qualifications and work experience, while the EP is meant for highly skilled PMETs who hold a degree from a reputable university or possess relevant work experience in their field. While both passes are intended for foreign PMETs, they encompass different eligibility criteria, minimum salary benchmarks, and validity durations. 

Learning the difference between the two can help you determine which pass is suitable for your organisation’s needs and ensure that you are in compliance with MOM’s regulations. Let’s explore the key differences between these two passes. 

Who Is the EP and S Pass For Based On MOM’s Standard Occupation List?

The Ministry Of Manpower’s (MOM’s) standard occupation list provides a guide on the types of jobs that are eligible for each Singapore work visa. The S Pass is typically intended for mid-level skilled PMETs who have qualifications such as a diploma or technical certificates, and relevant work experience in their field. These foreign holders are usually employed in roles such as technicians, supervisors, and executives in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, services, and marine. 

Employment Pass (EP), on the other hand, is reserved for highly skilled PMETs who possess a degree from a reputable university or have relevant work experience in their field. The EP in Singapore is not restricted to any particular sector and is open to all types of jobs in Singapore including industries such as finance, technology, healthcare, and many others.

It is important to note that MOM’s standard occupation list is not exhaustive, and certain jobs that are not listed can still be eligible for either the S Pass or EP, depending on the individual’s qualifications and experience.

Eligibility Criteria For Each Pass

The eligibility criteria for the S Pass and EP are set by MOM and are designed to ensure that the foreign worker meets certain requirements before being allowed to work in Singapore.

  S Pass Employment Pass (EP)
Minimum Salary Must have a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 3,000.

Must have a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 4,500. 

(From 1 September 2023, in addition to meeting the qualifying salary, EP candidates must also pass a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)).

Education or Work Experience Must possess a degree or diploma qualification, or have relevant work experience. The education or work experience must be relevant to the job that the candidate is applying for. Must hold a degree from a reputable university or have relevant work experience. The education or work experience must be relevant to the job that the candidate is applying for.
Skills and Past Experience Must possess the necessary skills and experience for the job. MOM assesses this by considering factors such as the candidate’s job responsibilities, work experience, and industry knowledge.

You should also know that meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee that the candidate will be granted the pass. MOM considers a variety of factors when assessing work pass applications, including the candidate’s age, experience, and qualifications, as well as the employer’s track record and compliance with MOM regulations.

Who Can Apply For These Passes?

When it comes to who can apply for these Singapore work visas, there are different requirements that need to be fulfilled by the employer. For the S Pass, any employer can apply for their foreign employee as long as the employee meets the eligibility criteria. The employer must register for an S Pass account with MOM and submit the relevant application documents. The application will then be assessed and determined whether the candidate meets the eligibility criteria and whether the employer has complied with the relevant regulations.

For the Employment Pass, the employer must be a registered company in Singapore and submit a job advertisement on the national job board, MyCareersFuture.sg, for at least 28 days. This is to show that they have tried to hire a local candidate for the position before moving on to hiring a foreign employee. The advertisement must meet certain requirements, such as listing the job requirements, qualifications and providing information about the salary range and benefits. After 28 days, the employer can then submit the EP application for their foreign employee.

Validity Duration

The validity duration of the S Pass and EP is an important consideration for employers and employees alike.

The validity of an S Pass typically lasts up to two years, and it can be renewed for up to three years. The renewal of the S Pass is subject to the candidate meeting the eligibility criteria at the time of renewal. The candidate’s salary, qualifications, and work experience will be assessed again during the renewal process, and the employer will need to provide updated employment contracts and other relevant documents.

The validity duration for the EP is also generally up to two years for first-time applicants, with the option to renew for up to three years. However, candidates must also pass a point-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) set by MOM for any EP renewals from 1 September 2024. 

Required Documents

When applying for an S Pass or EP, a set of required documents must be submitted to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The documents required for each work visa may differ slightly, but in general, the following documents are required:

  • Completed application form
  • Candidate’s passport details and educational qualifications
  • Job offer letter which includes details of the job scope, salary, and benefits offered to the candidate as well as the duration of the employment contract. 
  • Candidate’s resume and work experience documents
  • Company’s business profile and financial statements

Do remember that MOM may request additional documents or information during the application process, depending on the individual circumstances of the application.

While both the S Pass and EP are work visas for foreign PMETs in Singapore, they have different criteria and purposes. With the right understanding and preparation, hiring foreign talent in Singapore can be a positive contribution to the growth of businesses and the economy. If you would like to know more about these passes, do not hesitate to contact Paul Hype Page & Co today and we would be more than happy to guide you through the process. 


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