• Working Visa Guide in Singapore

As of 2020, Singapore has about 1.2 million foreigners working in Singapore and an estimated 17 million international travellers. All foreigners require some sort of Singapore Visa or visa free exemption arrangement to enter to Singapore. In general, Singapore issues 2 types of visas:

  • Work Visa by Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

  • Non work Visa by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority ICA

What are the Singapore Work Visa available?

  • Education level – Degree or higher tertiary level, Diploma or special trade skilled level and last General skilled without a higher education level

  • Salary Range – above $4,500, minimum $2500 and no minimum salary benchmark

  • Scope of Work – Professional skilled or Entrepreneurship level, Executive or Mid Management skilled work tradesmen and lastly physical labour job scope type

Work Visa Type


Salary Range

Scope of Work

Employment pass, Entrepass and Personalised Employment passDegree and AboveAbove $4,500Professional work such as Engineering, Technology, Management consulting, Medical, financial field and many others
S PassDegree or diploma or technical certificates,Min $2500Executive work such as Admin, Operational and more routine base type of work any industries
Work PermitNo Min RequirementNo Min RequiredForeign workers provide physical labour work working in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector. 

Employment Pass (EP), EntrePass or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) – Which is the most suitable work visa for a foreigner?

Let us introduce the different type of work visa for a foreigner who possess a degree or higher education background, these are the available:

1)  Employment Pass is most suitable for foreign professionals who are considered to be experts or specialized in their desired field. Since 2020, Ministry of Manpower is closely assessing every applicant’s knowledge and skills. MOM has raised the bar where the approved employment pass applicant needs to demonstrate the followings:

  • How their skills set is not easily found in local job seekers and by entering Singapore job market, are the applicants able to contribute any competitive advantage in their field.
  • Does the salary of the applicant commensurate to the work scope? If the salary is too low or high, then questions may be raised on the why the company wants to hire this applicant. If too low, does it dampen the local job seeker salary range? If too high, is there biasness in applicant selection?
Tip: Employment pass visa holder can also choose to become a business owner. You can incorporate your own company and apply the visa using it. As such, you are considered a business owner and employee of your own company. You are able to provide your services to more than one company and never need to seek for new job again.

2)  Entrepass Visa is suitable for foreigners or existing work pass holders who plans to start a new venture-backed or owns innovative technologies business in Singapore. The applicant can be one of the followings

  • An entrepreneur who has secure venture capital funding or past history of entrepreneur experience or who already in an accelerator in Singapore start up program
  • An innovator who holds an intellectual property (IP) or is a technical expert that has an ongoing research collaboration with Singapore research institution
  • An Investor who has a good track record of investing in businesses and want to grow new or existing businesses in Singapore by starting an investment-related company.
Tip: EntrePass Visa renewal conditions is based on required local spending min of $100,000 and local hiring of 3 staffs or 1 managerial position.

Employment Pass Vs Entrepreneur Pass Similarities:

Let us have a brief comparison between an Employment Pass (EP) and Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass).

  • Both the Employment Pass and EntrePass act as a temporary resident scheme for foreign nationals who wish to relocate themselves to work and stay in Singapore.

  • Both passes are subject to processing and approval by Ministry of Manpower

  • Both passes have temporary validity and requires renewal.

  • Holders of both these passes are eligible to relocate their immediate family members, spouse and children below 21 years

  • Holders of either these passes are subjected to the Singapore Income Tax System upon approval.

  • Both the passes serve as a pathway to permanent residency.

Employment Pass Vs Entrepreneur Pass Differences:

1.  Who can apply?

  • Employment Pass is intended for company staffs and executives whereas EntrePass is intended for business owners or founders of a newly set up company who holds at least 30% shares of the company.

2. When to apply?

  • For Employment Pass, it can be applied only after a company is incorporated while for EntrePass, you may apply either before the company is set up or 6 months within the incorporation.

3. Main evaluation criteria

  • For Employment Pass, your recognized and relevant qualification (to job) and your company’s background/credentials are mainly considered while for EntrePass, the qualifying criteria is to have an innovative business plan, future hiring plan, meeting the spending requirements, and a proven entrepreneur track record.
  • Note that the educational qualification is more crucial for Employment Pass and less significant for EntrePass as the personal entrepreneurial background and venture backed funding of innovative technology business is more looked upon.

4. Salary

  • The minimum salary qualification is $4,500 for Employment Pass application while there is no salary requirement for EntrePass as it focuses more on specific entrepreneur criteria.

5. Validity

  • The EP is valid for up to 2 years and is renewable thereafter subject to approval. EntrePass is only valid for 1 year but is subject to renewal on a yearly basis depending on certain criteria.

6. Processing time

  • It takes about 2-4 weeks for an Employment Pass to be approved while it takes around 5-8 weeks for EntrePass. However, these timelines are not fixed and can vary in different situations.Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is one of the most flexible work visas in Singapore as you do not need to have a Singapore company to apply for you. It is an individual self-sponsored visa. Overseas foreigner who has a monthly salary of S$18,000 or more.It grants its holder the privilege of coming to Singapore without the need to secure a job. Hence, it provides mobility within Singapore’s employment market. Its holder is not be subjected to any employment bonds and may thus employed in any business area of choice. PEP holders do not have to re-apply for one upon the changing of jobs. However, PEP visa is not renewable.
Tip: Holders of a PEP are not allowed to register a company in Singapore or serve as a Singapore company’s shareholder. You are also not allowed to conduct any form of entrepreneurial activity while on a PEP.

What are the constraints of S Pass visa?

The S Pass is a work visa targeted at skilled and semi-skilled workers. It allows such workers of any nationality to work in Singapore. S Pass holders are usually individuals who have fulfilled the necessary requirements as specified by the company. For example, a Tooling technician that is needed in manufacturing firm or a special language teacher in a school.

To qualify for an S Pass, applicants are required to command a fixed monthly salary of at least S$2,500. An application for an S Pass must be made by an employer on behalf of the applicant. S Pass candidates must also complete and pass a point-based assessment. Employers of S Pass holders are obliged to provide medical insurance for their employees.

The employer is subject to a quota system that limit that number of S Pass holders in a company. For example, Company in the service sector may not have more than 10% of their staff members as S Pass holders It is also mandatory for employers to pay a certain amount of monthly levy depending on the number of S Pass holders who have been employed.

What Industries are hiring Work Permit workers?

A Work Permit (WP) is a pass that allows low to semi-skilled workers in labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, construction, marine, and services to work in Singapore. WP holders have lower salaries as no minimum education qualification is needed. The employer is responsible for the application for a WP.

There is a quota system involving the WP. The employer is required to pay a foreign worker levy, fulfil the foreign worker quota, and provide medical insurance for employees. Upon issuance, this pass is valid for up to two years and is renewable thereafter.

WP holders are not permitted to bring in dependents.

Conclusion: Why is Employment Pass a Better Choice?

If you are in a dilemma of whether you need the Employment Pass, Entrepreneur Pass or Personalised Employment pass, and with the rule that you will be tied up to a working visa which gives you benefit in the long run, then YES, the Employment Pass is an ideal choice which also have a slight edge over the others.

After understanding the significant similarities and differences of the Employment Pass and EntrePass, it is only rational that if you want to be successful, always opt for a method that will not restrict you to certain areas.

For instance, although both the Employment Pass and EntrePass grant you the ability to bring in dependants, do note that for EntrePass however, as the validity is only a year but is renewable thereafter, holder of EntrePass will not be able to bring in dependants on the first year. Only after renewing the pass, they will be able enjoy the dependant privileges. Take notice that this renewability is also subjected to certain criteria.

This comes as a constraint because to thrive in something you do, we certainly need our family by our side. Family members do have a role to play in your continued growth and will definitely serve a purpose in your work and life in Singapore. With an Employment Pass, as long as you fit the requirements, you are given the dependants privilege alongside other benefits.

For Personalised Employment Pass, besides the initial advantages where you are self-sponsored and not tied up to any hiring company when you first arrived, there is also a six-month period where you can stay unemployed, and your visa is still valid. In the long run, there are 2 big disadvantages:

  • PEP holder cannot take up jobs where the salary is less than $12,000. Hence, giving himself a big restriction in job selection especially when the economy is bad.

  • PEP holder cannot be a shareholder of the company or being involved in entrepreneurial activities. This may result in lost opportunity where he cannot be entitled to any share options of the company and is always an employee.

Therefore, Employment pass visa gives you more flexibility and advantages as a job seeker or as a foreign entrepreneur who plans to start their business in Singapore.

What are the Non-Working Visa in Singapore?

Citizens of almost 80% of the world’s countries may travel to Singapore for a period of 30 days or 90 days without a visa. Therefore, ICA issue Visitor visa depending on the applicants’ purpose in Singapore and stay duration. Singapore Visitor Visa is a pre-entry permission for foreign pass holder of a valid passport to travel into Singapore. Visa application is required for citizens / passport holders of CERTAIN countries and breakdowns to Nationals of Assessment Level I and II Countries.

Tip: The processing time can be 1 to 7 days depending on the applicant’s nationality.

That being said, all visitors to Singapore must:

  • hold a passport or a travel document valid for more than 6 months at the time of departure,

  • hold an onward or return ticket,

  • have sufficient funds to stay in Singapore,

  • have entry documents (including a visa) to their next destination, if required,

  • have a completed Disembarkation/Embarkation Card, and

  • have a visa and/or a yellow fever vaccination certificate for entry into Singapore (if applicable).

Therefore, Employment pass visa gives you more flexibility and advantages as a job seeker or as a foreign entrepreneur who plans to start their business in Singapore.

EP & Visa checker


What does a foreigner have to do if he wants to register a business firm in Singapore?2020-07-03T16:04:58+08:00

A foreigner needs to apply for an Approval-In-Principle EntrePass if the foreigner wants to register a business and act as a local manager of the business firm. The foreigner must also have a Singapore residential address in the above cases. After obtaining the AIP-EP, the foreigner will have to approach a professional firm or a service bureau for submitting the BizFile transaction on his behalf to register a new business.

Why use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)?2020-07-03T16:04:36+08:00

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.

What is an Employment Pass (EP)?2020-07-03T16:04:02+08:00

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. 

2021-09-28T17:10:04+08:00January 2, 2015|

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