Approval of MOM Visa
The Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower is commonly known by the abbreviation MOM. Previously known as Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Manpower was restructured on 1 April 1998 and has been responsible for all formulation and implementation of the labour policies and critical manpower planning related to the workforce in Singapore.
Being the central agency, the MOM focuses on integrating a manpower approach and developing a globally competitive workforce in a sustainable manner.
One of the MOM’s function is the management of foreign manpower and they are in control in regulating the admission of foreign workers and managing the foreigners working in Singapore. For any foreigners who wish to work and live here, they are required to apply for working visas and MOM oversees the issuing, approval, renewal and cancellation of these work passes.
As there are myriad of work visas available and with the foreign labour market continue to expand, MOM is compelled to control the inflow of foreign labours due to few reasons:
- To ensure fair employment practice – This is to make room for locals to fill positions before employing foreigners and balance the weightage of locals to foreigners in the workforce.
- To moderate demand for foreign manpower – Due to limited land, resources and infrastructure, there is a need for more sustainable productivity-driven economy growth, so a significant slowdown is required in the growth of foreign workforce.
- To raise the quality of existing workers – Effort to restructure productivity efforts and companies will have to shift towards more skills and capital-intensive ways to grow.
Due to the reasons stated above, MOM took a step towards reinforcing a more stringent policies and requirements and will closely scrutiny each application before giving a nod.
Despite the difficulties and challenges in obtaining a work visa, a greater understanding on the application process and what is expected from MOM may give a hand in your application.
It is not likely that MOM discloses their internal processes, but in this guide, you will have a brief rundown on some of the key points you need to keep in check when you apply for your work visa application.
If you are an applicant: –
1) A Singapore work pass can only be applied by a Singapore-registered employer willing to hire you. Once you accepted the job offer, your employer is responsible to submit the offer letter with full job and salary details. They are not supposed to apply for work visa yet before this is settled.
2) All the work pass application fees must be covered by the employer. If they engage an agent to help with the formalities, they will need to incur the agent’s fees too. Do note that the agent alone cannot apply for a Singapore work pass, the employer should initiate the approach. Hence, the agent nor employer are not allowed to charge the job seeker for any fees.
3) Upon the submission of the application, MOM will first perform a rough check if the application is eligible and may be entered in the process. In any case the application does not go through this successfully, chances are your application will be straight out rejected, under few reasons:
- If the application is not complete such as missing documents or insufficient information
- The applicant already has another work visa application on going.
4) If the initial screening is positive, the application will then be entered into the system. Once it is entered, a FIN code will be issued, and the employer will be informed of this. A FIN stands for Foreign Identification Number and is a unique 9-digit code issued to foreigners with immigration or work passes.
One important thing to keep in mind regarding the FIN number is, the existence of a FIN does NOT mean the work pass is approved.
When MOM officer enters an application into the system, this will generate a FIN number if it is the job seeker’s first application and the employer is informed of this. Otherwise, the FIN from previous application is re-used. This FIN number is issued prior to the approval of the work pass, as a FIN is needed to check the work pass application status online.
In certain cases, some may confuse that the FIN number is only issued once your application is approved. To make things clear, after the application is entered into the system, an ID reference number will generate, which is used as reference number for your application, so once the application is successful, that same number will be used as FIN and if not, it will be kept as referral ID of your application. Some may call it as FIN prior to approval so in more common reference, this number will act as a reference ID for your application.
Also, FINs are not re-used for other individuals. Once issued, it stays with the same individual.
5) In most cases, applications are submitted online via the EPOL (Employment Pass Online) which is an official online portal of MOM. As of here, the application entered into the EPOL system will have a status of ‘pending’. It is here that your application will be examined thoroughly by the authority.
Key Points to Remember in Your Application
When your application is in review, you will need to make sure the important key points are covered to ensure a successful application.
When MOM decides to review your application, first thing they will assess further is whether the employer is allowed and capable of hiring foreigners. Few things to keep in mind:
- The industry should be strategically allowed to hire foreigners. For instance, the reason should be due to a lack of local workforce.
- The company/employer should not be banned or have any problems with foreign employees from the past.
- Company are required to have a viable business model and can afford to pay the offered salaries to employees.
- If you are applying for S Pass or Work Permit (WP), your employer should have a spot for you in their foreigner quota.
- The job should be posted on Jobs Bank for at least 2 weeks with no suitable local applying.
During this stage, MOM may request for additional documents from the company, and the process will only resume upon the submission of additional requirements. In any case MOM takes a negative stand, then your application is rejected without further checks.
Next, your personal credentials are verified. In this stage, there are few things that MOM investigates. Take note of these key points:
- Your submitted certificates and documents must be correct and recognised. At their discretion, MOM may engage external agencies which can be in your home country or elsewhere for the verifications. This process itself might take around 2 – 8 weeks and MOM will not have a control over this timing. Your application status in EPOnline at this stage will appear as “pending input from vetting agencies”.
- Your education background and work experience must be suitable and match the job offered. It is not possible to get a work pass without experience in a similar job.
- You should have strategic interests and benefits contributing to the country.
- Your salary offered should commensurate your job and is within the market norms for the position. Do note that, you will be rejected if you earn too little or too much.
Again, additional documents and information may be requested by MOM during this stage. This might include justification from employers on why they want to hire a foreigner for the job.
If all the checks deemed positive for MOM, your application will be approved.
From MOM’s aspect, they do not disclose any rejection issues, but may state a hint in the rejection letter. So, in any case your application is rejected, an appeal can be done by the employer and for this appeal to be successful, additional information should be included to alleviate the rejection reason.
An appeal process might take as long or even longer that the initial application, so it is only rationale that you ace your application in your first attempt itself.
As MOM is a law unto itself, the rights are in their hand and their main aim is to develop a great workforce and workplace in the region to build a competitive economy.