There are three kinds of work permits for Singapore that expats are most likely to apply for.
The Employment Pass is for qualified professionals, the S Pass is for mid-level candidates and the Work Permit is for semi-skilled workers in fields like construction. To qualify for any of these permits, expats will first need to secure a job offer in Singapore.
For information about all the different types of work permits offered, visit the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website, an official Singapore government agency website.
Work permits for Singapore
Employment Pass (EP)
Employment Pass applicants need to have an offer for a specialised or management-level job in the country.
Applicants that are recent graduates of well-respected international universities will need to earn above a set amount a month to be considered for an EP – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) determines whether the amount is in line with local standards.
Expats wouldn’t apply for themselves. The application is done by the employer or an employment agent on their behalf before they arrive in Singapore.
The duration of an EP is up to two years for first-time applicants and can be renewed for up to three years.
EP holders who meet financial requirements can have their employer apply for a Dependent’s Pass for their (legally married) spouse and children younger than 21 years old. Separate applications will need to be made for each family member.
As is the case with an EP, S Pass candidates in Singapore would need to have a job offer that pays above a set amount a month but reflects their level of experience – so more senior applicants would need to be paid more. Qualifying S Pass salary amounts are lower than those set for EP applications because the S Pass is for mid-skilled technical workers rather than specialist positions. Again, the MOM will determine whether an adequate salary is being offered.
Applicants also need to have relevant work experience and have earned a degree, diploma or technical certificate that includes at least one year of full-time study.
The employer in Singapore has to apply for the candidate before they arrive in Singapore. They also have to provide the candidate with medical cover. S Passes are valid for two years and can be renewed for up to three years at a time – renewal applications can be submitted as early as six months before the expiry date of the S Pass.
As with the EP, candidates who earn more than a specified amount per month can have their employer apply for Dependant’s Passes for eligible family members.
Work Permits for Foreign Workers in Singapore are aimed at semi-skilled workers in fields like construction, manufacturing and services. There is no set minimum salary, but employers are bound to pay whatever salary they declare to the MOM. Medical cover is also required.
Each of the fields covered by the work permit has its own requirements. Being granted this kind of work permit for Singapore has become more difficult in recent years. The government has tightened quotas and many businesses have started focusing on retaining existing staff. Expats in the country on this permit also can’t sponsor any family members to join them.
The work permit is valid for up to two years, depending on the expat’s contract.
*Work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
"It is no longer guaranteed that employment passes will be granted even assuming that the applicant is suitably qualified and educated." See what else Leo, a British expat, has to say about the economic climate and working in Singapore in his interview.
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