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 (MOM) 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)?
An Employment Pass (EP) is one of the many preferred working visas available in Singapore. The employment pass allows foreign expatriates to live and work in Singapore with a starting salary of only SGD$ 4,500. Besides living and employed in Singapore, the employment pass holder is also permitted to start a business in Singapore, hassle free.
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.
An Employment Pass (EP) are usually valid for 1 year and can subsequently be renewed for 2 to 3 years at a time. There is no levies or quotas for Employment Pass employees.
Why use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)?
The Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) is a tool run by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to assist a potential candidate to check their eligibility before applying for a work pass. This tool is normally used for S Pass and Employment Pass candidate to check their qualifying salary.
The information needed to attempt in using this tool will be:
Fixed monthly salary
Date of birth
The if tool indicates a certain salary will not qualify you to hold an Employment Pass (EP), we highly advise to increase the salary until the result qualifies you to apply for the pass. This is because, MOM will auto reject any application made if the salary does not qualify for the candidate to hold an EP.
Before you dive into the requirements, you can have an idea of the other aspect of employment pass
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 and 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
From September 2020, MOM has revised the qualifying salary for Employment Pass holder to be SGD$ 4,500. The strict policy imposed is aimed at moderating the number of foreign forces in Singapore. Also, this regular updating of the Employment Pass qualifying salary is part of MOM’s effort to keep pace with rising local wages, to maintain the quality of foreign workforce and enhance their contribution to the local workforce.
The rationale in being offered a specific range of salary for one to qualify to hold an Employment Pass is so it is at par with the experiences the candidate has, the position offered as well as the education background attained.
In many forums or rumours in website, in order for an Employment Pass application to be approved is by being offered a high salary. However, based on our professional experiences, this is a double sword edge situation. For instance, if the employing Company does not have sufficient fund to pay the offered salary, MOM might also reject the application
2. Educational Qualification
One of the criteria for a person to be eligible to hold an Employment Pass is by having an acceptable qualification from accredited institution, professional qualification of specialised skills.
Those who wish to apply an Employment Pass, but their qualification is from unaccredited institutions will need to obtain a report from 3rd party global verification agencies such as Dataflow or Risk Management Intelligence (RMI).
This report is needed for the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to begin assessing the candidate application. Without it, MOM will not initiate the assessment and leads to an auto rejection.
For those applying the employment pass using their professional certificate will be scrutinize by the Ministry of Manpower. These types of applicants will usually need to compile supporting such as letter of recommendation and past work experience portfolio to boost the approval chance.
3. 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
The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also assessed the background of each employing Company who wish to employ foreign candidates. Some of the key factors evaluated are:
1. Job advertisement to consider local candidates equally like the foreign candidates
MOM has been implicit in ensuring Companies to post job advertisement as an effort to employ local before pursuing to employ foreign professional via Employment pass even though the Company is exempted from job advertisement.
MOM is very thorough in assessing the employing Company information and background. If a Company employ local candidates and pay out their CPF contribution accordingly, it might boost their chance of approval in hiring foreign expats as well.
It was also stated clearly in MOM website mentioning for all Singapore registered Companies to consider all candidates fairly. To do this, they are encouraged to put up job advertisement in MyCareersFuture to give Singaporean the same consideration as the foreign candidates for at least 28 days.
This job advertisement can be served as supporting document to MOM as proof that the Company has indeed fulfil the criteria needed.
Although there is no quota for a Company to employ EP holders, but any companies with a disproportionately large numbers of foreigners will ultimately be scrutinized by MOM and a higher chance for them to reject an application made.
2. Company Capability
In recent months, MOM has been rigid in ensuring the Company is well equipped to hire a foreign employee via work pass and the candidate of choice is well deserving of the position offered.
Some of the items MOM will likely assess are:
Company bank account is opened and have sufficient fund to cover the candidate and existing employees’ salaries for the next 12 months’ and still able to cover business operation expenses
Have tenancy agreement of the workplace
Prepare business plan in detail (what is the product/service offered, why must operate in Singapore, what is the manpower projection, who are the potential clients etc.)
Engage with potential client and summarise them in the form of Letter of Intent or contracts signed. (It is better if the potential clients are Singaporean)
If the business has start operating, ensure all invoices issued are neatly kept and can be tallied with the proof of payment made by clients in the Company bank account
Ensure the Company complied with the annual filing (tax filing with IRAS, financial statement preparation and annual return filing with ACRA)
If any of the items above are not fulfilled, there is a possibility for MOM to use it as a reason to reject the application made.
Documents Required for The Application
Previous work pass (EP / S Pass / DP / WP – if any)
Latest passport copy
Education certificate (If its not in English, kindly furnish the official translated copy together with the original copy)
Membership card (if any)
Accreditation Agency support letter (if any)
Contracts secured or letter of intents with potential clients
Tenancy agreement (if any)
Bank statement – showing sufficient fund
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.