Singapore Employment Pass Application Process
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower mandates that foreigners wishing to be legally employed in Singapore need a work visa to be able to do so. Work visas in Singapore range from work permits for domestic workers and labourers, S Pass for mid-level skilled workers, to Employment Passes (EP) for experienced professionals, managerial personnel, executives or specialists with good credentials.
For work permits and S passes, employers have the restrictions of foreign workers levy and foreign workers quota before they can employ foreigners.
For EPs though, there is no such restriction, and is thus the more popular immigration gateway for middle-level and senior positions.
Do note that all aspects of employing foreigners in Singapore is governed by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Asiabiz presents the following nine-step guide for Singapore employment pass application.
A Nine Steps Guide for a Singapore Employment Pass Application
Who can Apply for a Singapore Employment Pass?
An entrepreneur or director of a Singapore company who wish to relocate back to the city-state to manage the company operations from here; or a locally-incorporated Singapore company that needs to hire an employee from overseas; or a foreigner who has secured an employment offer from a Singapore firm.
But do remember that as per Singapore laws, it’s always the employer or an authorised third party which makes the EP application to the MOM. Employee themselves are not allowed to do so.
Eligibility for a Singapore Employment Pass
The eligibility conditions for an EP include:
- managerial or executive roles, or specialised jobs
- the applicant is being employed at a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,600 (or at current market rates)
- the applicant possess acceptable qualifications, which is usually a recognized university degree, professional qualifications, specialist skills or proven track record
It is important to note the S$3,600 qualifying limit is only for young graduates from good institutions (effective 1 January 2017). More experienced candidates need higher salaries to qualify.
Also, MOM doesn’t have a list of approved institutions for educational and other qualifications. Rather it evaluates every institution on its own merit, based on criteria such as global and country rankings, and enrolment standards.
Moreover, the ministry evaluates every application on case-per-case basis. Thus, candidates without the qualifications as required by the recently-enhanced EP framework may not necessarily be rejected if they have a proven track record and exceptional skills set.
Important Considerations Before Making an Employment Pass Application in Singapore / Making a Successful Employment Pass Application in Singapore
With the recent tightening of the EP approval criteria and the introduction of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) in August this year, employers in Singapore need to be judicious in their EP applications. The general considerations may be summarised as below:
- EP approvals are higher if the employer belongs to a niche industry that requires personnel with specialised skills-set to function, or an established company with a successful track-record of more than three years.
- It also helps if the applicant’s skills-set compliments the local work-force and not compete with it.
- If the prospective employee is a native of tier one countries/region, his or her EP application will most likely be approved.
- Always pay appropriate salaries. For middle-level positions and skilled technicians, the salary range must be above S$4,500 per month. For senior-level hiring such as CEOs and CFOs, the monthly compensation must cross S$8,000.
- Make use of the government’s new job portal www.jobsbank.gov.sg Under FCF, every firm (few are exempted though) wishing to hire foreigners must first advertise the particular position on the portal for 14 days before it can make an EP application.
- The exception under the FCF criteria include: firms employing under 25 people, or the recruitment is for a job that pay more than S$12,000 per month, or the EP application is for an intra-corporate transfer, or the job is for a short-term contingency (less than one month of employment). However, MOM will always encourage employer to advertise on JobsBank to practice fair employment.
- Use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) on MOM’s website to assess whether a candidate meets the EP requirements, as a positive SAT indicates higher chances of the application approval.
Applying for an Employment Pass in Singapore
This is a government portal operated by the MOM for business employers and employment agencies to perform EP transactions reducing the processing time remarkably.
EP Online can be used to make:
- new EP application
- apply for family passes for the EP holders
- secure permission to work for family pass holders (also known as the Letter of Consent)
- renew any of the above three
- check the application status
- appeal EP rejections
- EP cancellation
Do note that an overseas employer with no registered office in Singapore must get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor and apply manually on its behalf.
Documents Required for an EP application
Employers need to submit the following documents for an EP application:
- personal particulars page of the applicant’s passport
- company’s latest business profile or instant information registered with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
- details of the applicant’s academic certificates
For documents not in English, an English translation by your embassy, notary public or a credible translation service, and a copy of the original document is needed.
Please note that for applicants from India and China, there are additional requirements:
- Indian applicants – transcripts and mark-sheets
- Chinese applicants – certificate of graduation and verification proof of these certificates.
Processing Time for an EP application
If the application is made online, then processing time is around 3 weeks or longer. Manual applications take around 5 weeks.
Duration of the EP issued
Issuance of EP for first-timers or renewal of existing EPs are both done for up to three years.
What to do when an Employment Pass Application is Rejected in Singapore
As more and more EP applications are being rejected in Singapore, employers and employees need professional help more than ever, especially while making an appeal against a rejected EP application.
This is an area of expertise for Asiabiz Services and we can help you put your best foot forward.
In most cases, a rejection advisory is issued for an unsuccessful EP application. Thus, the chance of a successful appeal, which must be made within three months of the rejection, is highly improved if the reasons mentioned in the advisory are taken care of.
Do note that MOM normally takes at least three weeks to process an appeal matter.
Renewal of an Employment Pass in Singapore
EP renewals are much faster and easier, and are possible any time under six months of the Pass’ expiry date. The renewal process takes only seven working days, and if successful, the employee on renewed EP is granted permission to work in Singapore for three more years. Similar to the new EP applications, EP renewals can also be done by either the employer or an authorised third party.
Cancel an Employment Pass in Singapore
An EP must be cancelled immediately if the employee no longer works for the employer which had initially secured the EP for the employee. Important considerations while cancelling an EP include:
- all related family passes (Dependant’s Pass and Long Term Visit Passes) must also be cancelled
- a tax clearance must be obtained from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) before the pass holder leaves the job
- a 30-day short term visit pass (STVP) can be issued to the ex-employee, which allows him or her to stay in Singapore for the said period
8. Family Passes
Passes Available to Family Members of Employment Pass Holders in Singapore
EP holders who earn at least S$5,000 per month can bring their family members to Singapore, for which a separate application for each family member needs to be submitted. The available options are:
Dependent’s Pass (DP)
The DP is for the EP holder’s legal spouse and unmarried children (including the adopted ones) under 21 years.
Letter of Consent for Dependent Pass Holders
Notably, DP holders are allowed to work in Singapore, after securing either an EP or a Letter of Consent (LOC). For the LOC option, the DP holder, with at least three months pass validity still remaining, must first secure a job offer with a Singapore employer. As in case of the EP, an LOC application has also to be made by the DP holder’s prospective employer. Since the DP, and in turn the LOC, is tied to the main EP holder, both (DP and LOC) are automatically cancelled on the cancellation of the EP.
Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)
The LTVP is for the EP holder’s common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 years, step-children under 21, as well as parents (only if the EP holders earns more than S$10,000 per month).
Documents required for family passes for the EP holder include:
- duly filled application form
- a photograph of the applicant (passport-sized and taken within last three months)
- personal particulars page of applicant’s passport/travel document
- document(s) establishing the applicant’s relationship with the EP holder
9. Permanent Residency (PR)
How can an EP holder become Singapore PR
EP holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency in Singapore through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme. But it is advisable to wait for at least six months before making the application so that you can furnish the required proof of six months’ salary.
The Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme for Permanent Residency in Singapore
As more than 95 percent of professionals in Singapore attain their permanent residency through PTS, it is unarguably the most preferred route.
While an applicant’s spouse and children aged under 21 years may also apply for Singapore PR status together with the applicant, it must be noted that male dependents will be liable for Singapore National Service once they are granted permanent residency.
It must be noted that while there is no magic formula to attain Singapore’s permanent residency, applicants with relevant skills, educational qualifications, and professional and financial background do stand a better chance.
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