A Singapore Employment Pass (EP) allows an EP holder to live and work in Singapore. As of 2020, an Employment Pass applicant must have at least a salary of S$4,500 as well as sufficient educational qualifications and work experience.

Following on from Part 1 of this article, we will continue to discuss the Singapore Employment Pass in Part 2.

Singapore Employment Pass

In April 2016, the Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) tightened the rules related to the granting of the Employment Pass (EP). This strict policy imposed is aimed at moderating the number of foreigners who work in Singapore. Reasons include:

  1. To accompany the rising local wages
  2. To maintain the quality of the foreign workforce in Singapore
  3. To reduce the risk of employers hiring EP holders over Singaporeans due to the foreigners being cheaper to employ

If you cannot find a job or a company to sponsor for your Employment pass application , you can always do it on your own –Incorporation with Employment Pass

Singapore is a global financial hub and is therefore vulnerable to the influence of foreigners who work there. As money transfers and exchanges of funds are carried out across Singapore,  compliance-related issues will be thrown into question. Therefore, the  Singaporean government has been adhering to a strict compliance policy to reduce the risk of money laundering from abroad adversely impacting the local economy. Therefore, the  Singaporean government has become more aware of the risks of admitting many foreigners coming into the country to work.

As Singapore has been gradually tightening the policies and requirements related to granting an EP to foreigners, it is only probable, not guaranteed, that an application will be approved. Applications now go through many barriers before a decision is made. Each application is scrutinized more than ever before.

Subsequently, there are two things that could happen: either the application is rejected outright (no reasons are given in certain cases), or the relevant documents or additional information and approval are demanded to be submitted (rare cases).

There are no definite criteria for a successful application, but there are ways that one can increase the chances of approval. As it is entirely the MOM’s decision to issue the Employment Pass, the only way to ensure the approval of an EP is to approach the application from the MOM’s point of view.

Before we dive in depth to the crucial factors, you may wan to see the followings:

Critical Factors in a Successful EP Application

There are a few main factors to focus on. The MOM’s strict yet subjective criteria focuses on the quality of the candidate and the background of the employer hiring them. Below are some of the key factors that can help with the approval of an EP application.

Singapore’s strict policies on the hiring of foreigners are solely based on evaluating whether the foreign talents’ contributions will be correspondent to the needs of the region’s economy or in competition with the local talent. Singapore wants skilled workers that they are not able to find within the island. The country has always sought high-quality foreign talent.

1. Company niche 

An application is more likely to succeed if it is made by a company operating in a business sector that is significant or growing in significance to Singapore’s economy.

There are cases where some EP applications take just a few days to be approved. However, in some cases, applications may take months to be approved. So why the large variance?

Someone who, for example, is coming to Singapore to work as a researcher in a Research & Development centre of a medical or pharmaceutical institution or MNC and is working on a big cure or vaccine who is also drawing a high salary amount per month will likely have an EP application approved in short order.

On the other hand, those in industries such as Food & Beverage (F&B) or Information Technology (IT) who do not earn much more than the minimum salary qualification will find approval more difficult.

Given that a company operating in a niche industry does have some advantages over most industries in Singapore, there are specific occupations that are in demand. Knowing which industries are in demand is important for applicants because not all industries are in demand.

At Paul Hype Page & Co, as we closely engage with the government authorities, our core aim is to ensure that we give you the requisite support. Applying for the pass can be an  arduous task, but our guidance will make certain that you will receive the EP without major issues and in an honest manner, as our key principles include making ethical decisions.

Furthermore, as our immigration specialists deal with the EP application on a daily basis, we are in a position to identify the sectors or business opportunities that might be important to you.

We believe the following to be the industries most in demand today:

  1. Finance
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Construction
  4. Health care
  5. Information communication and digital media
  6. Tourism and retail

The industries above are in demand and also directly support the growth of key economic sectors in Singapore. Understanding the industries and occupations will help foreign professionals to determine if their skillsets are in demand before they choose to relocate to Singapore. The following are some examples of occupations in each of the industries above.

Finance: As Singapore is a global financial hub, the finance industry continues to enjoy its prestigious status, and people are seeking for jobs in banks and finance-related firms. Some of the in-demand occupations in the finance sector include those of compliance manager, risk management manager, investment management professional, research analyst, product controller, and project management professionals.

Manufacturing: The manufacturing sector in Singapore contributes about 20% of the country’s economy. One of the challenges faced by this sector is the shortage of talent with complex and cross-functional skills. The manufacturing sector is branched into 3 units:

Manufacturing – Electronics and Precision Engineering: Firmware R&D engineer, HDD-related R&D engineer, media process engineer, network storage engineer, water fabrication process engineer

Manufacturing – Chemical and Biomedical: chemist, process development chemist, electrical engineer, electrical technician, environment (water) engineer, automation engineer, process engineer, QA/QC specialists

Manufacturing – Aerospace and Marine & Offshore: design engineer, petroleum engineer, project engineer, reservoir engineer, well engineer, nanoengineer

Construction: There is high demand in the construction sector in Singapore. Occupations in demand include those of civil engineer, structural engineer, bridge engineer, design engineer, geotechnical engineer, quantity surveyor, supervisor and general foreman, architectural assistant, architectural technician, and building and construction manager.

Healthcare: Healthcare is a high-demand and profound sector in Singapore because the country’s low birth rate and aging population.  As a result, the occupations of doctor, allied healthcare provider, nurse, pharmacist, medical technologist, laboratory technologist, clinical audiologist, dietitian, and occupational therapist, clinical psychologist are in demand, especially following the expansion of healthcare infrastructure by the authorities.

Information Communication and Digital Media: With the ongoing development of technology, digital channels are gaining importance. Thus, there is much demand for jobs in this sector. Example of occupations include analyst programmer, software engineer, database administrator, network and computer systems administrator, systems analyst, security consultant, software architect, game programmer, animator, and chief information officer.

Tourism and Retail: As Singapore is an international travel hub for tourists, the tourism and retail industry are among the major contributors to the country’s economic growth. Among the occupations in demand under this sector include production manager, set designer, lighting designer, stage designer, museum curator, art curator, stage technical crew member, art fair organiser, and auctioneer.

The occupations above require skillsets that are expected to be in demand by industries in the coming years.

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2. Salary

Salary is an important requirement of talent migration policies. The MOM’s manpower policy framework is designed to meet the manpower needs of the economy in order for businesses to stay competitive in their respective field and grow, ultimately creating more and better job opportunities in Singapore. The qualifying salary for Employment Pass is S$4,500. (older, more experienced candidates need higher salaries).

SAT test is a must – It is an online tool to assess if you qualify for an Employment Pass or S Pass based on the information provided, such as salary, educational qualifications and work experience. It does not guarantee the actual outcome of your application. This is because there are other checks such as your employer’s quota (for S Pass) and your history, that are not considered in this assessment.

Note that if there are many other applicants who meet other criteria on qualifications and experience, applicants with a higher salary will have a better chance of approval. The minimum salary must not match or be lower than that of local talent, hence its higher price requirement.

3. Qualifications and Experiences

An applicant’s skills should be relevant to the scope of the job in question.

The MOM will need a detailed and thorough explanation of the applicant’s job description. This is for the MOM to understand the roles and responsibilities of the position and if it can create value-added advantages in the long run. If the position requires special or rare skills instead of commonly available skills, the application will probably be approved as such skills are scarce among locals.

In a situation where an applicant is able to provide testimonials and past achievements from previous employers, transcripts of awards, or outstanding records, there are better chances for the EP to be approved. The applicant must convince the MOM that the applicant stands out from the crowd and is more than an ordinary foreign employee who just wish to work abroad.

Those who command high salaries, have high-ranking job titles, have worked with big names and reputable firms, or have a degree from prestigious institutions will be looked upon favorably by the MOM. These factors are major contributors to the MOM’s final decision.

4. Jobs Bank Requirement 

The Singapore government is responsible to make sure priority is given to Singapore citizens in the hiring process. As such, employers will need to comply to the requirements where they are required to advertise their jobs in the Jobs Bank (for locals) for at least 14 days. A scheme by the government called the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is aimed at setting clear expectations for companies to consider Singaporeans before hiring foreigners to uphold fair recruitment practice.s

A foreigner can only be hired if there is no suitable candidate deemed fit for the position. Employers also need to provide evidence that local candidates do not have the required skills for the position. This also affects an EP applicant’s chances of approval.

5. Business Plan

Applicants who plan to own their own company in Singapore must present the MOM with a business plan. A viable business model is required to build the profile of the company. It is best to demonstrate a three-year financial projection and include details of proposed business activities in Singapore. Applications will also be looked upon favourably if they include emphasis your future hiring plans for Singaporeans. This will portray your potential positive contributions to the republic.

While you deal with your EP application, our experts at Paul Hype Page & Co will make sure an ideal business plan is presented to the MOM.

A crucial point of note here is that a realistic, clear, comprehensive, 5-7 page business plan will boost your chances of approval. However, as enthusiastic as you may be about your business plan, nothing is guaranteed.

Our in-house agent is a Singaporean citizen with managerial capabilities who is responsible in dealing with EP applications. Our procedures include calling the MOM and acquiring relevant information from local perspectives.

6. Paid-up Capital

One of the main evaluation criteria in a prospective business owner’s EP application is the amount of paid-up capital. There are better approval chances for companies that have been operating successfully for over three years. Consequently, they have advantages over new companies and start-ups. In this case, new companies will need to have enough paid-up capital and demonstrate to the MOM that they will be able to pay out salaries consistently. The MOM does not entertain companies which do not exhibit financial viability. There should be sufficient demonstrable funds for the costs of the company’s operations.

Thus, our recommendation is to have at least a minimum of one year’s salary in the bank account. The MOM is clamping down on those companies who do not have the finances to support the payment of salaries and other business expenses. Therefore, a company without much paid-up capital will have a slim chance of approval.

However, there are cases in which companies with much paid-up capital had their applications rejected. Demonstrating how rich one is will not guarantee the obtaining of an EP; quality is the main priority. At Paul Hype Page & Co, we conduct a more pragmatic approach in dealing with EP applications. As a leading regional service provider, we aim to perform realistic actions.


Securing a work visa is just one of the many bureaucratic hurdles to working in Singapore. The Singaporean government is seeking professionals who can provide significant contributions to its economy and maintaining the country’s status as one of the world’s leading economic hubs.

If an application is rejected by the MOM, the applicant may submit an appeal. However, instead of going through the appeal process and rectifying errors, it is better to get it right the first time because this process can take up a great deal of time, especially with some of the more complex cases.

As there is no definite way to predict the outcome of an Employment Pass application, it is recommended that the applicant does everything possible to maximize the chances of a successful application.

Due to strict government protocol and important documents required by the Singaporean government, it is recommended that applicants seek a reliable professional consultant to enhance the chances of receiving an EP.

If you choose to seek help from us at Paul Hype Page & Co, our agents will work closely with you to maximize your chances of getting your EP application approved. We will also use our expertise to work with you in determining how to best proceed, should your application be rejected.