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:

  • Position details
  • Fixed monthly salary
  • Nationality/Citizenship
  • Date of birth
  • Work experiences
  • Education background

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

EP & Visa checker

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

1. Salary

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

For potential candidate:

  • 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)

For employing Company:

  • Business plan
  • Contracts secured or letter of intents with potential clients
  • Tenancy agreement (if any)
  • Bank statement – showing sufficient fund

Our thoughts

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.

FAQs

Where can i get the Employment Pass Application Form?2021-03-30T18:33:18+08:00

If you are ready to start your Employment Pass application, click here to fill up the Employment Pass Questionnaire. Our in-house agent will help you with this process.

You may also use the Self Assessment Tool (SAT) to check the Employment Pass or S Pass eligibility of your candidacy before you apply or appeal.

Reasons why your EP Application is rejected2021-03-30T18:31:54+08:00
  • Job scope and qualifications do not match. Educational profile and experience should be aligned with the job requirements.
  • The applicant’s previous employer did not hire locals or had an imbalanced ratio of locals to foreign employees in the company. This shows a lack of contribution to Singapore and a lack of trust in the local economy. It also casts a poor light on the company with regard to its global standing.
  • A local can easily take the job which the applicant is pursuing. In such a case, there is no need for a foreign talent as there are enough locals that can already do the same job.
  • Criteria such as academic and salary qualifications are not fulfilled to an appropriate level.
  • The duration of the applicant’s previous job is less than two years and the applicant changed job without any acceptable reason. The Ministry of Manpower takes a dim view of job-hoppers and applicants with questionable work records.
How to Check Employment Pass Application Status?2021-03-30T18:38:53+08:00

After applying for an EP online, the following image can be seen:

Applicants’ EP status can be divided into three categories. An applicant’s EP application status can be pending, rejected, or approved.

If the applicant’s EP status is “approved”, the MOM has already approved the application. The applicant may now proceed to make an appointment with the MOM to receive the EP and activate it.

What are some Employment Pass Advantages compared to other Work Visas?2021-03-30T18:29:30+08:00

There are several advantages which are provided to applicants for as well as holders of an Employment Pass which do not exist for those of other Singapore work visas.

  • S Pass holders are not permitted to either own or be the director of a company. They are also barred from entering certain lines of work.
  • Personalized Employment Pass holders have a much higher salary requirement than do Employment Pass holders. They too are not permitted to enter specific lines of work.
  • EntrePass holders are required to fulfil specific criteria related to their status as an entrepreneur, innovator, or investor. None of these additional requirements are applicable with regard to the EP. Thus, it is only to be expected that the EP is the Singapore work visa most commonly selected by foreigners.
What are some Jobs Bank Requirements of Companies Applying for an Employment Pass?2021-03-30T18:28:34+08:00

Since August 2014, the Ministry of Manpower has required companies that intend to hire EP holders to first advertise the relevant position in the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s Jobs Bank. However, certain exceptions apply.

The following positions are exempted:

  • Jobs in firms with fewer than 25 employees
  • Jobs that pay more than S$12,000 per month
  • Intra-corporate transferees (i.e. candidates holding senior positions / professionals with advanced levels of expertise)
  • Short-term positions (less than one month)
What happens when your Employment Pass application is rejected?2021-03-30T18:27:33+08:00

Sometimes, an Employment Pass application is rejected by the authorities. If such has happened to you, we will investigate why the outcome was so. We will consider the Ministry of Manpower’s reasons, establish a firm appeal in your defence, address the issues raised, and provide any needed documents on request.

  • Appeals take at least three weeks to be completed, though this duration may sometimes be longer.
  • Any appeal must be submitted within three months of the official rejection. After this time period, a new application must be submitted.
What is the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)2021-03-30T18:16:31+08:00

According to our Singapore Employment Pass Guide, it is wise to make use of the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT), an online tool offered by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM). In the guide, we have listed important factors to consider when applying for a Singapore Employment Pass.

The SAT serves as a gauge of one’s chances of receiving an Employment Pass; it is not an exact means of determining either approval or rejection of such an application.. Applicants and employers can check whether they meet the specific requirements to obtain the proper work passes. The SAT is reliable and has as a high level of accuracy. The SAT will aid in checking one’s eligibility based on nationality, education profile, working background or experience, and salary profile.

Should the SAT results indicate that an applicant is not eligible, the applicant is advised to abandon the application because the application may be outright rejected. However, the SAT is merely a reference and does not depict actual results; the application will nevertheless be thoroughly reviewed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) authorities. The Self-Assessment Tool exists on the MOM’s website.

I am an EntrePass holder. Can I register a business?2020-06-23T11:56:24+08:00

Yes.

If I am holding a valid EntrePass for the company that currently employs me but wish to leave the current post to start my own business venture, must I cancel my existing EP before applying for AIP EP?2020-06-23T11:55:57+08:00

Yes, you will need to cancel your existing EntrePass before applying for AIP EP.

If I am holding a valid EntrePass (EP) for the company that currently employs me and at the same time, wish to start my own business without resigning from my present job, must I cancel my existing EP before applying for AIP EP?2020-06-23T11:55:36+08:00

No, you need not cancel your existing EP. Rather, you should apply for AIP EP along with a letter of no objection from your current employer. Your AIP EP will be treated as an application for an additional EntrePass to work for another company.

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