Employment Pass (EP) Requirements in Singapore
As the job market grows steadily in Asian cities, Singapore has become one of the most sought-after places for foreign workers since the country has been gearing towards encouraging foreign talent. The ultimate goal here is to benefit the local economy and workforce by transfer of skills and knowledge from counterparts overseas. This has been made possible by Singapore Ministry of Manpower who offers different range of work visas.
But the outcome has been an impact to the state-city’s total population. Equipped with only scarce resources, it has been a challenge to leverage the human resource capacity. Subsequently, this has taken a toll on the locals, as the foreign talents are seen as a competition to them resulting in more Singaporeans being unemployed.
As a result, the government authority, who is responsible for the issuance and approval of any work visas, has imposed strict regulations against the influx of foreign talent in the region.
What is an Employment Pass (EP)?
For foreigners who wish to work and live in Singapore, they are required to have work visas, and the relevant work visa is Employment Pass (EP). An Employment Pass is a work visa that allows foreign professionals in managerial, executive or specialist role who have job offer in Singapore to relocate there and work.
Other that Employment Pass (EP), there are several types of visas offered by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) which are tailored to suit certain skills, level, salary requirement, and employment background. This pass is valid for 2 years and can subsequently be renewed for 3 years at a time. There is no levies or quotas for Employment Pass employees.
It should be noted here that the EP is not appropriate for entrepreneurs, business owners or investors. Should one of these fit your profile, you will need to apply for Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) instead.
Why use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)?
To make sure that you are applying for the right work visa, you can make use of a tool offered by MOM which is the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT). This tool will help you check your eligibility and determine based on your nationality, education profile, working background/experience, and salary. From this, you will be able to know under which category you fall. Since MOM has enforced tight criterions on granting EP, this tool will give you a more definite and case by case answer according to your personal profile, position and condition. You may head to MOM’s site for the Self-Assessment Tool.
If the tool indicates that you will not qualify, do note that this Self-Assessment Tool only serve as a system to check your eligibility and criteria prior to your application and NOT the approval of your application.
Requirements for Obtaining Employment Pass
As the Singapore Ministry of Manpower has raised the bar in applying for the EP and consequently, this implementation of a tighter and more rigid restrictions has made the process of applying the EP a challenging task for foreign talents. Hence, it is only rational that you deep dive into the requirements and understand what is required by MOM.
In the first place, you will need to have a job offer in a well-established Singapore registered business, and followed by the criteria below:
Eligibility Requirements for Employees
MOM has announced a revised higher salary threshold and as of January 2017, the minimum salary qualification is at $3600 or more. Initially, the minimum salary qualification is $3000 and was raised to $3300 in January 2014. The reason for this move is to moderate the inflow of foreigners to the country. Do note that those with extensive work experience will need to earn a higher amount of salary. The rationale here is if your pay is not inline with the norms, you might not qualify for an EP. To shed more light on this, the norms are divided into 3 categories.
i)You are not getting paid enough for the education and experience you possess. E.g.: For 10 years work experience, you are getting paid only $5000.
ii) You are not being paid enough for the position you are filling. E.g.: As a senior nuclear engineer, earning $6000 per month.
iii) If you are only being paid the norm that locals would receive.
If your salary is lower than $3600 then you will not be eligible to apply for EP, you may apply for an S Pass instead.
In many forums or rumors in website,it says that you need to have high salary to achieve that higher approval employment pass application. However, this is not true based on our firm experience, its actually double swords situation. The reason being, MOM will inquiry the company for paying high salary and will check the financial status of the company.
- Educational Qualification
One of the most important elements that MOM will look upon is your qualification pedigree and this play a very significant role in their decision making. Certain universities will be looked down compared to a top-tier university from certain countries, and usually the top universities from western country are generally considered to be equal or better than the local universities (National University of Singapore, etc) and all others are generally viewed with scrutiny. The Government plays extra close attention especially to your tertiary education level and where your degree is from and will sift out applications from unknown universities unless you have exceptional experience in your field which is also decided on case to case to basis.
- Employment Background
Besides your educational qualification, one of the overriding criteria is your employment background. Those with exceptional professional skills and expertise with a proven track record of relevant experiences will outshine the other applicants as this aspect in turn will impact the social and economic development of the republic and its citizen. Note that your skills should also match your previous job profile as this will determine your expertise in your respective field. In some cases, let say if you lack notable education, this is where you can compensate it with a strong work experiences and background. But do note that MOM does not prefer job hoppers, and if your job profile exhibit inconsistency, you will most likely not be eligible for an EP.
Eligibility Requirements for Employers
It is not only the employee or candidate who is assessed. The employers or hiring companies are also evaluated based on few factors.
- Advertising Requirement
Hiring companies are closely evaluated in terms of their local headcount, which is the weightage between foreigners and locals. Do note here that this weightage for local hiring is on local Singaporeans and not Singapore PR. The Singapore government will inspect if the company have hired any Singaporean citizens or if they have any plans to hire Singaporeans in the future to support their business operations.
Hence, to make certain of this, all companies will need to advertise their jobs vacancies in Jobs Bank which is a portal and landing page for jobseekers. Singapore has employment legislation that requires jobs to be advertised for at least 14 days to Singaporeans before the jobs can be offered to foreigners.
Purpose of this rule is mainly to encourage companies to hire and develop the local citizens. Granted that if no locals applied for the positions or fit the job profile, only then companies are allowed to hire foreigners. In theory, this means that even though you are a desirable candidate and fit the job, you will have to wait 2 weeks for this period to pass.
Although there is no quota for EP, but any companies with a disproportionately large numbers of foreigners will be rejected as this could be deemed as not showing commitment to hire locals or consider them for the opportunity.
For MOM to consider an EP application, a detailed explanation on the company’s business activity is needed. They will be evaluated in terms of their capital structure and ability to pay their employees’ salaries. Thus, documentations such as bank statements, payslips, sales invoices and income tax statements might be needed for the verification process. Here, your share capital will pay a major role as they will look at a capital of at least SGD100k = 1-year expenses.
Documents Required for The Application
After making sure you meet the criteria, you will need to file an application to obtain your EP. You are required to submit necessary documents to substantiate the application. Also, all documents are required to be in English:
- A complete and verified application form.
- Detailed CV or resume of your professional and academic qualifications.
- Photocopies of your educational certificates that are relevant along with your previous employers’ testimonials
- Photocopy of your passport personal particulars’ page.
- Your recent passport size photo.
As the competition between the locals and foreigners are getting tough, as well as strict regulations from the Singapore authorities, it is quite a daunting task to make sure you meet all the requirements meticulously. Employment Passes may or may not be hard to get, but it is always circumstantial and situational, so it is only reasonable if your application stands out among others. Although it is a hard market for foreigners to become an EP holder, just remember that Singapore’s main aim is to fulfil their national/economic development policies and that will be your steer to obtaining your EP.