Singapore Working Visa Guide
If you are one of the many expats who decide to take the plunge and relocate to Singapore, the island country is indeed an ideal place for you. Given its economic and political stability and vast employment opportunities for skilled foreign individuals, those who are competent enough and able to contribute to the region’s growth are often preferred.
As the job market in the Asian city is steadily growing, it is highly doable for foreigners to work and live there. To get started, you will need to undergo the bureaucratic hurdle of obtaining the work visa and with a workforce that is made up of nearly 40% of non-Singapore residents, the government are looking very closely at the applications as stringent rules are reinforced. This is to make sure they have a tight control on the influx of foreigners coming in and hence, to make sure that you have your application in line, first you will need to understand the different type of work visas offered by the Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Type of Visas in Singapore
There are various types of visas available and they are categorized by the applicant’s professional skill level and monthly salary. To apply, it is essential that you understand the specific purpose and requirements. Following further, the guide below will give you a quick comparison between the different type of visas and help you settle for the one that suits you. The types of visas include:
- Employment Pass
- Entrepreneur Pass
- Personalized Employment Pass
For skilled and semi-skilled workers:
- S Pass
- Work Permit
Employment Pass vs Entrepreneur Pass
Two most common types of passes are the Employment Pass (EP) and the Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass). The EP is most suitable for foreign professional who are equipped with acceptable qualification and relevant work experience and are seeking for jobs in a managerial, executive or specialist positions. This type of work pass is appropriate for those foreign talents with many years of experience and are considered as an expertise or specialist in their desired field. The Singapore authority will closely asses every applicant’s valuable knowledge and skill they can offer and if they are able to contribute any competitive advantage in the niche.
On the contrary, for those who do not acquire high educational qualifications with notable credentials, yet still possess highly skilled and entrepreneurial abilities, can choose to apply the EntrePass instead. This pass is a good fit for those who attained distinctive accomplishments and success in their business venture or have an innovative business proposal that will impact the economic growth of the country.
The government intended this pass for the brightest minds with an outstanding entrepreneurial background. Thus, another added requirement to obtain the EntrePass is to have an at least 10-page comprehensive business plan to manifest your proposed business venture.
One thing to be clear is that the Employment pass applicants usually are company staffs and executives whereas the EntrePass are for founders of a newly-set up companies. So, if you are applying for the EP, your minimum salary offered should be at least SGD3600 and on the other hand, there is no minimum salary qualifications for EntrePass holders, but you need to make sure that you hold at least 30% of your company’s shares.
When it comes to company incorporation, the rule of relocation states that EntrePass can be applied before or 6 months after the company’s registration but the EP can only be applied after the incorporation. The EntrePass grants the businessman to arrive in country even before the company registration for a sole reason, which is to make necessary preparations and handle the registration process but in one condition, the company ought to be registered within 30 days after the issuance of EntrePass.
Both the EP and EntrePass are just temporary passes and require renewals, as the EP is valid up to 2 years and the EntrePass is valid only for a year but do note that the renewal process requires certain criteria to be met and is subject to approval.
As for the approval, the EP is processed and approved by one authority, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) whereas for EntrePass, 2 authorities are involved; MOM (for the approval of visa) and Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (for company incorporation)
In addition, both this passes open pathway to permanent residency in Singapore and is eligible to bring in immediate family members.
As the government has broadened the evaluation criteria to attract the best talent, below is the prerequisite criteria to secure your EntrePass.
ENTREPRENEUR PASS PREREQUISITE CRITERIA:
You are mostly eligible to apply for an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) if you are ready to start and operate a new business in Singapore. Do note on the requirements below before applying:
- Your company must be a Private Limited Company registered with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). You do no need to register the company first, but if it is registered, then it must not be more than 6 months from the date of application.
- Your company should at least have a paid-up capital of $50,000 with a bank statement demonstrating that the amount is already in a Singapore-based company bank account which is vital in the verification process.
- It is pertinent that your business is legal and entrepreneurial in nature.
In addition to the above criteria, as a new firm, you must fulfil at least one of these innovative requirements below which will be evaluated on merits:
1) Receive funding or investment from a recognised third-party Venture Capitalist (VC) or from business angel/investors who is accredited by a Singapore Government Agency. This funding should be strictly in monetary form of at least $100,000 and you are required to show a shareholder certificate or any other relevant document as supporting documents.
Below are examples of which the funds are approved under:
- Contact Singapore – Global Investor Programme
- Economic Development Board Investments
- Infocomm Investment Pte Ltd
- National Research Foundation – Early Stage Venture Funding
- SPRING Singapore – SPRING SEEDS, Business Angel Scheme
2) Possess an Intellectual Property (IP) that is registered with an approved national IP institution with completed filing and one of the shareholders must be the owner on the IP. The IPs should be related to the proposed business conducted in the EntrePass application. The cardinal reason for this is because the IP delivers a competitive advantage to your proposed business and cannot be easily replicated. Any expired IPs can be also considered as long as one of the shareholders is the investor of the IP.
For more reference on the National Intellectual Property Offices, you may refer to this list.
3) Have an ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognised by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore. A few things to look at here:
- The duration of research collaboration is not essential
- Research collaboration should be corresponding to your proposed business
- Research institution must provide a contact person to verify details of the research collaboration
- You must be involved with ongoing research collaboration
- Contract of services is not considered as research collaboration
Examples of research institutions include:
- National Research Foundation – Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise, Research Centres of Excellence.
- National University of Singapore
- Nanyang Technological University
- A*STAR Research Institutes
4) Must be an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator or accelerator. Incubators act as a mentor and they provide professional mentoring and business resources that are conducive to a start-up firm’s growth. Note that only existing incubatee is allowed and incubatee’s work must be related to the proposed business.
Examples of government supported incubators are:
- National Research Foundation – Technology Incubation Scheme
- Media Development Authority – iJam
- SPRING Singapore – Incubator Development Programme
The evaluation of EntrePass applications are more stringent compared to other work passes as they are assessed based on their own merits and case-by-case basis. If the requirements are not met, it is always advisable to go for the Employment Pass (EP) instead.
Employment Pass vs Personalized Employment Pass
The Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is known as the VIP version of the EP. Although both the EP and PEP have profound similarities, the PEP holds a greater flexibilities and opportunities. The PEP is directed at higher-paid professionals and executives who can demonstrate a minimum monthly salary of SGD 18,000, but if you are currently holding the EP, then the minimum qualification is SGD 12,000. As this pass is aimed at top-tier professionals, the eligibility is based on their previously earned monthly salary.
The PEP acts as a self-sponsored visa and gives you the luxury of coming to Singapore without having a job, so you may start your job hunting once you are here. Application for the PEP can be done yourself unlike the EP, where only your employer can submit on behalf of you.
On top of that, the PEP grants you mobility within the Singapore’s employment market and since you will not be subjected to any employment bond, you may be employed in any business niche of your preference. With the PEP, you will not be required to re-apply for the visa each time you change your job. This gives you an added benefit of venturing different employers or even sector. Like EP and EntrePass, with PEP, you can bring in your immediate family members.
The only drawback for PEP is that it is only granted for 3 years, and since it is not renewable, within that 3 years PEP holders may try to apply for a PR status and if not, switch to different work visa which in most cases, the EP.
Besides that, if you are holding the PEP, you will not be able to register a company here or act as shareholder. A PEP holder is forbidden from starting a business and managing any entrepreneurial activity therefore in this case, EntrePass would be a best fit.
Employment Pass vs S Pass
While Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass carry certain similarities, they are branched under different skill-level. The Employment Pass holders are usually professionals whereas the S Pass are for skilled or semi-skilled workers. The S Pass is also recognized as short term employment pass.
The S Pass allows mid-level skilled workers with relevant skills, experiences and qualifications from all nationalities to work in Singapore. To qualify, you are required to command a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 2,200. Other requirements include your relevant work experiences, a degree, diploma or at least a technical certificate in your chosen field. If you have extensive experience, you will need to exhibit higher salaries that corresponds to your work experience.
Relative to EP, application for S Pass also must be made by the employer on behalf of the applicant. Another added criterion for the S Pass is, candidate will have to pass a point-based assessment and one advantage of this pass is that the employer is obliged to provide medical insurance for their employees.
One profound difference between the EP and S Pass is the quota system. Unlike EP, there is a quota for the number of S Pass holders a company can hire. Companies will need to cap the S Pass holders at; 15% for companies operating in the service sector and 20% if company operating in other sectors. Also, it is compulsory for the employers to pay a certain amount of monthly levy depending on the number of foreign nationals they have employed.
Although S Pass holders also have the privilege to bring family members and relatives in, the underlying condition is that minimum salary earned should be SGD 4,000 or more. The S Pass is also renewable after the validity period of 2 years, provided that if a candidate wishes to continue working. In any case that your application for EP is rejected, you may apply for the S Pass instead as chances are your application was closely scrutinized by the MOM and you might be more eligible to hold the S Pass instead.
In comparison, the EP is more fitted for individuals who have already gained certain professional success in their desired field of work based on previous experiences, qualifications and skill set. On the other hand, S Pass holders are usually for individuals from a skilled sector who acquire the necessary requirements preferred by the company.
S Pass vs Work Permit
Work Permit (WP) is a pass that allows semi-skilled workers in labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, construction, marine or service sector to work in Singapore. Compared to S Pass, WP holders have lower salary distribution as no pre-education qualification is needed. Only workers from approved countries are eligible to apply and like the S Pass, the employer is responsible for the application of WP.
A Work Permit also entails a quota system just like the S Pass. The employer is committed to paying a foreign work levy, fulfil the foreign worker quota, and provide medical insurance for employees. Upon issuance, this pass is valid for up to 2 years and is renewable thereafter as well.
One key difference between the WP and S Pass is that the former is not permitted to bring in dependants while the latter can do so under certain conditions.
Under this Work Permit scheme, there are also specific WPs for domestic workers, confinement nannies and performing artistes.
Having an understanding on the different type of visas will help you secure the perfect one depending on your skills, qualification, ability and education. Despite the requirements of these various visas, the Singapore Government are in a close hunt to only have the best here. Due to the growing number of expatriates in the country, the issuance of these visas became relatively tough as each visa application is placed under detailed scrutiny.
Therefore, applying for these visas can be a harrowing experience but you can subdue this by engaging in professional service provider where they offer various immigration and visa services. At Paul Hype Page, we are well known in providing these services and will ensure to fulfil your immigration needs.