Employment & Immigration Requirements

Foreign nationals intending to enter Singapore to take up employment or to engage in business activities must obtain the relevant pass from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Here is everything you need to know about employment and immigration requirements in Singapore.

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. EP and S Pass holders can subsequently apply for permanent residence in Singapore, supported by six months’ pay slips and three 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 (EDB).

Organisations seeking to hire foreign talent, or foreign nationals looking to establish businesses in Singapore must obtain the necessary approval from the relevant authority prior to the commencement of employment.

Beginning 1 September 2022, the duration for employers to advertise jobs under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) has been reduced from 28 days to 14 days.

Types of work passes

  • For Professionals

Types

Description

Employment Pass

For foreign professionals, managers and executives. Candidates need to earn at least $5,000 a month.

Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)

For foreign entrepreneurs who are keen to start and operate a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies.

Personalized Employment Pass

For high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals. The PEP offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass.

Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass

For top talent in business, arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and academia and research.

Tech.Pass

For tech entrepreneurs, leaders or technical experts from around the world to perform frontier and disruptive innovations in Singapore. This pass is administered by the Economic Development Board 

  • For skilled and semi-skilled workers

Types

Description

Work Permit

For semi-skilled foreign workers from approved countries or territories to work in Singapore

S Pass

For skilled workers. Candidates need to earn at least $3,000 a month.

  • Passes for family of Employment Pass and S Pass holders

Types

Description

Dependant's Pass

Legally married spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders.

Long-Term Visit Pass 

For a common-law spouse, stepchild or handicapped child of an Employment Pass or S Pass holder.

  • Permanent Residence status

Permanent Residence

Employment Pass or S Pass holders may apply for the Singapore Permanent Residence status (PR) through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The application will be assessed based on ICA's PR criteria. Entrepreneurs and innovators can also apply for PR status through the Global Investor Programme (GIP).

Find out more about each work pass below:

Work Permit

Work Permit is generally for basic or semi-skilled foreigners, from approved countries or territories 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.  A S$5,000 security bond has to be purchased for each non-Malaysian worker, prior to the worker’s arrival in Singapore. You can buy the bond at any bank or insurance company.

If you employ Work Permit holders, you may be limited by a quota for your industry. You will also have to pay a monthly levy for each worker. The Foreign Worker Levy is a pricing mechanism designed to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore. The levy is payable on a monthly basis and the amount depends on the type of industry, as well as the “Dependency Ceiling” i.e. the number of foreign workers that may be employed by that industry and the qualifications of the workers.

From 15 September 2022, employers will need to purchase (i.e., complete registration or enrolment of workers) the Primary Care Plan (PCP) for eligible workers and make a declaration before work passes can be issued or renewed.

S Pass

The S Pass allows mid-level skilled staff to work in Singapore, where only eligible candidates will be considered for an S Pass. Criteria include earning a salary comparable to the top one-third of our local associate professionals and technicians (APT) workforce by age, starting at $3,000 a month. For financial services, candidate must earn at least $3,500 per month. There will be further changes to the S Pass qualifying salary on 1 September 2023 and 1 September 2025 onwards.

Singapore imposes quotas that restrict the number of foreign workers an employer may hire under the S Pass and Work Permit categories as a way of protecting the local workforce. The S Pass quota has been progressively cut since July 2012, when it was reduced from 25% to 20% across all five sectors of the Singaporean economy (manufacturing, construction, marine shipyard, process, and services). Most recently, the S Pass quota was reduced to 10% for the services sector and cut to 18% for the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors.

The reductions are a reflection of the government’s intention to strengthen the protection and support employment of local workers. This is especially important for the country’s recovery following the economic decline due to COVID-19.

From 15 September 2022, employers will need to purchase (i.e., complete registration or enrolment of workers) the Primary Care Plan (PCP) for eligible workers and make a declaration before work passes can be issued or renewed.

Employment Pass

Employment Passes (EP) are granted to professionals, technical personnel, and skilled workers in managerial, executive or specialised jobs. Only eligible candidates will be considered for an EP.

Criteria include earning a salary comparable to the top one-third of the local professional, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) workforce by age, starting at $5,000 a month (more experienced candidates need higher salaries). For EP candidates in the financial services, candidates must earn a minimum of $5,500 a month. Employers may use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to check if the applicant qualifies for an EP.

The number of Employment Pass holders an employer may hire is not limited by a quota. Employers also need not pay the foreign worker levy for EP holders. The company needs to ensure that it is financially strong enough to support the salaries and costs of employing the EP holder and other business expenses. 

As part of the Fair Consideration Framework, you may be required to advertise your job opening on the Jobs Bank before you can submit an Employment Pass application.

From 1 September 2023, in addition to meeting qualifying salaries, EP candidates must also pass a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).

The government sets out the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) to promote fair employment practices and improve labour market transparency. This requires employers submitting EP and S Pass applications to first advertise on MyCareersFuture and fairly consider all candidates before hiring a foreign national.

Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)

The Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) scheme is designed for foreign serial entrepreneurs, high calibre innovators or experienced investors who wish to start a business and relocate to Singapore. To be eligible for the EntrePass, the candidate must fulfil the criteria outlined by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore. A candidate must apply for an EntrePass either before formation of the company or within a period of 6 months from the date of registration of the company. After 6 months, the entrepreneur should apply for Employment Pass instead.

Applicants must also meet any of the innovative criteria for application as an Entrepreneur, Innovator or Investor. You do not need to meet all of the criteria for each respective profile or type but having more qualifications would help your application.

Personalized Employment Pass

The Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) is for high-earning Employment Pass holders who currently earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$12,000 or foreign professionals whose last drawn fixed monthly salary was at least S$18,000.

The pass is issued for three 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 six continuous months in between change of jobs.

In addition, the pass holder can remain in Singapore for up to six months, to source for new employment opportunities.

Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass

Singapore is introducing the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (One Pass) from 1 January 2023.

One Pass is a personalised pass for top talent in business, arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and academia and research. It provides employment flexibility by allowing eligible applicants to concurrently start, operate and work for multiple companies in Singapore at any one time.

There are different routes to apply for One Pass. Existing work pass holders and overseas candidates can apply if they meet either of the salary criteria below:

  • Earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000, or its equivalent in foreign currency, within the last 1 year.
  • Will earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 under their future employer based in Singapore.

In addition to meeting the salary criteria above, overseas candidates (i.e., those who are not existing work pass holders) will also need to demonstrate that they have been working for an established company overseas for at least 1 year or will be working for an established company in Singapore.

For a company to be considered established, it must have a market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or an annual revenue of at least US$200 million.

Individuals with outstanding achievements in the arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and academia and research can qualify for Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass, even if they do not meet the salary criterion. More details on the eligibility criteria for new applications and renewals under this route will be released closer to 1 January 2023.

Tech.Pass

Tech.Pass is a visa that allows established tech entrepreneurs, leaders or technical experts from around the world to come to Singapore to perform frontier and disruptive innovations. Tech.Pass is an expansion of the Tech@SG programme that was launched by EDB and Enterprise Singapore (ESG).

Tech.Pass will allow pass holders flexibility in the participation of activities such as starting and operating a business, being an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies, mentoring start-ups and lecturing at local universities.

To be eligible, applicants must satisfy any two of the following conditions:

  • Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000.
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role (e.g.: made major contributions to the design, development, and/or deployment of a tech product) in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100mil annual revenue.

Passes for family of Employment Pass and S Pass holders:

  • Dependant Pass

EP and S Pass holders need to earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $6,000 to be eligible to apply for Dependent Passes (DP) for their legally married spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years old.

DP holders can obtain an Employment Pass (EP), S Pass or Work Permit if they wish to work in Singapore. The prospective employer must submit an application on their behalf, and the relevant qualifying salaries, quotas and levies of the respective work passes will apply.

  • Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP)

The LTVP is for common law spouses, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old, unmarried stepchildren under 21 years old and parents of Singapore work visa holders. They are not eligible for a Dependant’s Pass.

The pass is sponsored by an established, Singapore-registered company (usually the employer). The qualifying salary to apply for the LTVP for parents is S$12,000.

Permanent Residence

Foreign nationals working in Singapore on an Employment Pass or S Pass, may submit an application for Permanent Residence (PR) to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).  They may include in the application, their spouse and any unmarried children aged below 21, born within the context of a legal marriage, or have been legally adopted.

Furthermore, 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.

How Mazars can help

At Mazars in Singapore, our team of experts have the experience and expertise to assist multinational enterprises and private clients for work visa applications. We provide high quality services and effective solutions tailored to your needs. Get in touch with our experts today to begin your journey to Singapore.