Primarily, the Singapore government has adopted the policy of encouraging well-qualiﬁed and skilled foreigners who can contribute to the country’s economy to join the workforce in Singapore. Employment Pass and S Pass holders can subsequently apply for permanent residence in Singapore, supported by 6 months pay slips and 3 years of tax assessments.
Another permanent residence scheme exists whereby foreigners with entrepreneurial ability and substantial ﬁnancial resources may invest in Singapore under the Global Investor Programme administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board.
Foreigners who plan to exercise employment or establish businesses in Singapore must obtain the necessary approval from the relevant authority prior to the commencement of employment.
A work permit is generally for lower-skilled foreigners, from an approved country or territory, who want to work in Singapore.
Various conditions apply depending on the country of origin of the workers. Employers of Work Permit holders must purchase medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $15,000 for inpatient care and day surgery. With the exception of Malaysian workers, employers will also need to provide a bank guarantee of $5,000 per foreign worker.
Employers are also required to pay the Foreign Worker Levy which is a pricing mechanism designed to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore. The Foreign Worker Levy is paid on a monthly basis and the amount is dependent on the type of industry, the “Dependency ceiling” i.e. the number of foreign workers that may be employed by that industry and the qualifications of the workers. The levy amount varies from $250 to $950 per month for each employee, depending on the number of Work Permit holders employed by the company.
An S Pass is granted to mid-level skilled workers who earn a ﬁxed monthly salary of at least $2,200, possess the required tertiary education or technical training and have relevant work experience.
The number of S Pass holders an employer can employ is capped to 15% of its workforce for the service sector and 20% for the other sectors. The employer must purchase and maintain similar medical insurance for S Pass holders as for the Work Permit holders and are also required to pay a Foreign Worker Levy of $315 for the S Pass quota up to 10% of the company’s total workforce. The next 10% to 20% of the S Pass quota will be levied at $550. The rates will be increased to $330 and $650 respectively from 1 July 2016.
Employment Passes are usually issued to graduates, professionals, technical personnel and skilled workers.
The requirements include recognised qualifications, preferably a degree, adequate relevant experience and who would be earning at least $3,300 a month. With effect from 1st January 2017 this figure will increase to $3600.
The company needs to ensure that it is financially strong to support the salaries and costs of employing the Employment Pass holder and also the other business expenses.
Dependants of an Employment Pass or S Pass holder may apply for dependants’ passes if the pass holder earns a monthly fixed salary of at least $5,000.
They include the spouse and children below 21 years of age. For pass holders who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $10,000, they may bring in their parents on the Long Term Visit Pass. It is to be noted that Dependants will often have to present the Employment pass to which they relate in order to access certain services in Singapore. As an example, Dependant pass holders cannot get the following services on their own accord: a mobile phone contract, an Internet provider or a TV provider, etc.
Both Employment and Dependant passes are granted by the Ministry of Manpower for periods ranging from 1 to 5 years and are renewable upon expiry.
Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)
The EntrePass is designed for foreigners that intend to move to Singapore to start a business.
Applicants must own at least 30% of a newly incorporated Private Limited (Pte Ltd) company, registered under ACRA for less than 6 months at the time of application. The paid-up capital must be at least $50,000 and documentary proof from a local bank is required. In addition, the business must meet one of the 4 other requirements pertaining to ownership of Intellectual Property (IP), investment by accredited venture capitalist/business angel, conducting ongoing research with a recognized institution or is an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator.
Personalized Employment Pass
The Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) is available to current Employment Pass holders who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $12,000 or foreign professionals whose last drawn fixed monthly salary was at least $18,000.
The pass is issued for 3 years at each successful application and is non-renewable.
The pass holder can take on employment in any sector and change between jobs freely and need not make a new pass application with each change. However, PEP holders must earn an annual fixed salary of at least $144,000 for each calendar year of the PEP and ensure that there is no lapse of more than 6 continuous months in between change of jobs.
In addition, the pass holder can remain in Singapore for up to 6 months, to source for new employment opportunities.
Singapore oﬀers permanent residency to foreign investors under the Global Investor Programme and holders of the above mentioned work passes under certain conditions.
The beneﬁts of the permanent residency include:
- The capacity to stay in Singapore for an unlimited period of time, subjected to the validity of the permanent residence issued.
- Employer and employee contributions to the CPF,
- The possibility of public home ownership,
- The possibility for the resident’s children to enter Singapore’s public education system.
One of the main obligations pertaining to Permanent Residents is the obligation for their sons, if they are also Permanent Residents, to enlist for national service when they are 18. National service in Singapore lasts for 2 years. This is followed by 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service every year until they are 50 years old for officers, and 40 years old for other ranks.