The Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a work visa which allows foreign professionals, managers, executives, specialists, and professionals to live and work in Singapore.
As per the Singapore Company Act, if a foreigner is to be a director of a Singapore company, the foreigner must be a valid pass holder. The most commonly selected pass for such purposes is the EP.
The EP is normally issued for one to two years at a time and is renewable thereafter. An EP visa enables one to work and live in Singapore and travel in and out of the country freely without having to apply for Singapore entry visas. This increases the ease of conducting business activities.
* Possession of an Employment Pass also makes it easier to apply for Permanent Residence (PR) in Singapore.
The Process of Receiving an Employment Pass in Singapore
Employment Pass applicants must earn at least S$3,600 a month and have requisite qualifications. Older applicants must generally command a higher salary that is commensurate with the work experience and quality they are expected to bring.
Employers or employment agents (recommended for higher approval rates) should apply for the pass before an applicant comes to Singapore.
It takes Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) around three weeks or longer to process an EP application. Upon receiving the In-principle Approval (IPA) notification, we at Paul Hype Page & Co will make arrangements for the collection of your EP if you have applied for one.
Foreign entrepreneurs ought to note that the Employment Pass application can only be done after their company has been incorporated. It is not necessary to be physically present in Singapore while the application is being processed.
Documents Required for Submission of an Employment Pass Application
The following documents are required to submit an Employment Pass visa application in Singapore:
Resume or CV stating educational and employment history
Copies of educational certificates and past employment testimonials
A copy of the personal details page on the applicant’s passport
Photograph of the applicant
* Any documents that are not in English must be translated into English by an official translation service.
Employment Pass Eligibility Criteria
The foreign professional must have a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,600.
A monthly income of S$6,000 or more is required so that a Dependant’s Pass application can be approved.
Parents of EP holders can also apply for the Long Term Visit Pass, but the EP holder must draw a minimum salary of S$12,000 (from January 1, 2018, onwards) before the parents are eligible.
Generally, a recognized diploma or degree from a reputed university is expected.
Professional qualifications, specialist skills, and work-related experience are also taken into account.
The Ministry of Manpower evaluates each applicant on the basis of individual merit. Other factors which also play a very important role are:
Salary of the applicant
Age of the applicant
Roles and responsibilities
Reputation of the company
Company’s paid-up capital
Applicant’s current citizenship
Even if the applicant has a recognized educational qualification, this does not guarantee a successful application as the applicant is also required to satisfy other criteria such as relevant work experience and or professional skills. Similarly, an applicant who does not possess a recognized educational qualification may not necessarily be rejected for the Employment Pass if the applicant possesses other compensating factors.
Understanding the strict criteria can be a daunting task as the Ministry of Manpower’s reasoning can be difficult to understand. Thus, we have prepared a detailed guide on the Employment Pass Requirements in Singapore.
Work Passes, Permits, and Salaries
In Singapore, some work passes and permits, including the EP, have links to the salary which the applicant can reasonably be expected to earn. The passes and permits which have minimum salary requirements are the EP, S Pass, and Training Employment Pass.
As has already been stated, the EP is meant for foreign professionals, executives, and managers. Aside from having the requisite qualifications, EP applicants are required to earn a minimum of S$3,600 every month. The S Pass is intended for staff members of mid-level skill. S Pass applicants must have a minimum monthly salary of S$2,300 and also fulfill all necessary assessment criteria. The Training Employment Pass is meant for foreign professionals who are in the midst of practical training. These foreign professionals must earn at least S$3,000 per month to qualify for the Training Employment Pass.
Although there is no minimum salary requirement before one can apply for the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP), a quote on the MOM’s website states that it is intended for “high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals”. This implies that the PEP can only be received by EP holders who earn an amount well above the minimum EP salary requirement.
No other Singapore work passes or permits have minimum salary requirements.
How the Employment Pass is related to the Long Term Visit Pass and Dependant’s Pass
The EP is one of four Singapore work passes which has close ties to the Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) and Dependant’s Pass (DP). EP holders who fulfill certain criteria can apply for either of these passes. By doing so, they can make it easier for members of their family to come to Singapore.
To apply for an LTVP, the applicant must be a holder of either the EP or S Pass. The applicant must also earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$6,000 and be sponsored by a company which has been registered in Singapore. Applicants may obtain an LTVP for any of the following family members: common-law spouses, unmarried handicapped children who are aged 21 or older, and unmarried stepchildren who are below 21 years old. Successful LTVP applicants who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$12,000 may also opt to use the pass on one or both of their parents.
Those who apply for a DP must already hold one of the following: an EP, an S Pass, a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP), or an EntrePass. The applicant must also earn a minimum of S$6,000 per month. The DP can be obtained for the applicant’s spouse or unmarried children, whether biological or otherwise, who are below 21 years old. Applicants may apply for the DP at the same time as or at any time after applying for their work pass. DPs are linked to work passes; they expire at the same time that their corresponding work pass does.
The SAT acts as a guide to which work visa is more suitable for you as it is frequently updated to reflect current criteria of work passes. 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.
Do note that this Self-Assessment Tool only serves as a system to check eligibility and criteria prior to an application; it does NOT check approval of an application.
How to Check Employment Pass Application Status
After applying for an EP online, the following image can be seen:
According to this image, the details that will be shown on-screen are the applicant’s Foreign Identification Number (FIN), name, application number, pass type, and status. It is this last detail, the applicant’s status, which will be discussed in further detail.
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 “pending”, it means that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is either currently assessing the application or requires more documents before making a decision about approval. Among the documents sometimes required by the MOM are details of the business activities of the applicant’s employer, details and pictures of the tenancy of the applicant’s company’s place of business operations, or a letter justifying why a certain company requires the services and contributions of the applicant. The MOM may also require proof of the ongoing business operations of the applicant’s employer. Such proof may include sales invoices issued to major clients, local corporate bank statements, and major client contracts which have been secured.
If the applicant’s EP status is “rejected”, the applicant has three months from the MOM’s formal rejection to submit an appeal. To appeal an EP rejection, an applicant needs the following: a bank statement proving that the applicant’s company’s balance can cover at least 12 months’ salary and business expenses if the applicant owns a company, major contracts secured by the applicant, and any relevant sales invoices.
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.
Employment Pass Procedures and Timeline
We will submit all EP applications electronically to the Ministry of Manpower.
The process consists of the following steps:
Update the Ministry of Manpower regarding the newly incorporated company. (2 days)
Fill up EP form (to be done by client)
Check and submit Employment Pass (to be done by authorized Paul Hype Page & Co Employment Pass agent) (2 days)
Card registration at the Ministry of Manpower’s office (for new EP applicants)
Card collection (at Paul Hype Page & Co office)
Please note that time frame for application procedure can vary, depending if Ministry of Manpower requires additional document or vetting of document.
Approval and Collection of the Employment Pass
Once the EP has been approved, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will issue an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter.
An IPA letter is valid for six months from the date of notification of approval.
After receiving the IPA letter, we will make arrangement for your EP card issuance.
You will be required to present:
A copy of the IPA letter
Recently-taken passport-sized photograph
Original passport with the entry embarkation cards
Medical exam report (if the IPA letter states that one is required)
Any other documents requested in the approval letter
* You can get a medical examination done in your own country through an established clinic/hospital or in Singapore. Most clinics in Singapore can provide medical examination and report within one or two working days.
Should you need to proceed to the MOM for card registration (for thumbprint and photo shoot), we will help you book an appointment with the MOM.
The EP will be ready to be collected at our office after four working days.
Entry Visa into Singapore (Using IPA Letter)
If you are abroad and require an entry visa to Singapore, your IPA letter will include a single journey entry visa. Upon your arrival in Singapore, we will make an appointment with the Ministry of Manpower on your behalf for fingerprinting. Once the procedures have been completed, your pass will be ready within four working days.
What happens if an Employment Pass application is rejected?
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.
Reasons for rejection of EP application
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.
The applicant has discrepancies in the information provided such as personal information or credentials.
The applicant gave inadequate information to substantiate the application.
The applicant’s resume does not exhibit an increasing level of prestige or salary. This gives the impression of a lack of personal improvement and contributions made.
A careful approach and much attention to detail is required when dealing with an application rejection. We have provided a guide titled “Why Is Your Singapore Employment Pass Rejected“ which includes further information on this matter.
Jobs Bank requirements before applying for an Employment Pass
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)
Factors that Make an Employment Pass Application Successful
The MOM’s strict yet subjective criteria focus on many factors, particularly those regarding the quality of the EP applicant and the applicant’s background. There are some key factors that often determine the outcome of an application.
One of the main factors considered by the MOM is whether the applicant will be able to contribute to the Singaporean economy. Generally, Singapore demands skilled talent from abroad when no suitable job applicant can be found among locals. In such situations, foreign talent is needed.
An Employment Pass application is likely to be accepted if the applicant is from a company operating in a sector which is significant to the growth of Singaporean economy. Such sectors are known as priority sectors.
The Singaporean government recently introduced a programme known as the Tech@SG Programme. It aims to make it easier for foreign skilled talent to come to Singapore and work in Singapore’s technological sector. One of the ways in which the government plans to expedite this process is by easing the requirements for Employment Pass application.
This programme could have a significant impact on Employment Pass laws as a whole. Should the Tech@SG Programme turn out to be successful, there is a reasonable chance that the new, more lenient Employment Pass regulations will be extended to foreigners entering any business in any industry in Singapore.
The MOM requires the salary of applicants to be commensurate with the applicant’s skill level and be competitive enough to meet the manpower needs of the country’s economy. An applicant’s salary should be at least S$3,600. Of course, those who have extensive experience in their field will demand a higher salary amount.
Note that if there are many other applicants who meet other criteria on qualifications and experience, applicants with higher salaries are more likely to be approved. This is because the MOM does not want the applicant’s salary to match or compete with local talent.
Qualifications and experiences
An applicant’s skills should portray appropriate relevance to the job scope of the job which the applicant is pursuing.
Apart from the resume, Ministry of Manpower will also closely scrutinize the applicant’s job description to assess the applicant’s understanding of the responsibilities of the role and how the applicant will create financial advantages. If the position requires special or rare skills instead of commonly available skills, the application will be prioritized as such skills are scarce among locals.
Applicants who provide any testimonials from previous employers are more likely to have their applications accepted. This is because the MOM will believe that in such situations, the applicant’s skills are outstanding and unique.
Jobs Bank requirement
The Singaporean government is required to prioritize locals during the hiring process. As such, employers must advertise the job in the Jobs Bank for at least two weeks. Only when there are no locals applying for the job can employers consider hiring foreign employees.
This requirement was put in place to aid the government scheme known as the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF). This scheme is intended to make companies consider Singaporeans before hiring foreigners. By doing so, companies uphold Singapore’s fair recruitment practices.
If the applicant’s company is still new and in the early stages of its growth, a viable business model is required to build the profile of the company. It is best to demonstrate a three-year financial projection and include details of proposed business activities in Singapore. Applicants who also emphasize future hiring plans for Singaporeans are likely to win favour with the authorities.
This business plan will give information on the applicant’s plans and intentions to positively contribute to the republic. Most business plans usually consist of three to four pages of text, with effective visual aids serving as supporting information.
EP applicants who own a company need to provide evidence that their company has a sufficient amount of paid-up capital. This would inform the MOM that the applicant’s company has the financial viability to pay out salaries consistently.
Generally speaking, the minimum amount paid-up capital which is accepted is S$50,000. However, the more the amount of paid-up capital, the higher the EP applicant’s chances of approval.
The MOM has been clamping down on companies which are not financially viable enough to support the payments of employees’ salaries as well as other business expenses. Therefore, EP applicants who own companies with low amounts of paid-up capital are unlikely to have their EP applications accepted.
Employment Pass Application Form
If you are ready to start your Employment Pass application, click here to fill up theEmployment 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.
Don’t leave your Employment Pass application to chance
Paul Hype Page & Co have our in-house licensed employment agency registered with the Ministry of Manpower and offer a full spectrum of work pass services. We will provide a thorough assessment of all factors of your application and ensure that they meet MOM current standards of review. Our reliable guidance and high success rate come with years of experience and continually staying abreast with Singapore’s immigration regulatory updates.
Call us at +65 6221 4711 or contact us now for a free consultation.