Everything you need to know about the Singapore Employment Pass

January 28, 2021

Singapore skyline

A comprehensive guide to Singapore's Employment Pass

Singapore's thriving economy makes it a fruitful location for businesses that want to break into Asia Pacific. Many foreign companies have set their sights on this small but mighty island state as a global innovation hub.

If your company has been eyeing Singapore as a potential hub for its international endeavors and are in the process of finding out how to mobilise talent into the Singaporean market, Airswift's Singapore Employment Pass (EP) guide contains everything you need to know about how it can live and work in the country.

  1. Who is eligible for the Singapore Employment Pass?
  2. Requirements for the Singapore Employment Pass
  3. How to apply 
  4. Duration of the Singapore Employment Pass
  5. Processing time
  6. What to do if your application is rejected 
  7. How to renew the Singapore Employment Pass
  8. How to cancel your Employment Pass 
  9. Are Employment Pass holders eligible for permanent residency in Singapore?
  10. Hiring and working in Singapore
  11. International expansion with an Employer of Record 

Who is eligible for the Singapore Employment Pass?

The Singapore Employment Pass criteria consist of the following:

  • Foreign entrepreneurs or Managing Directors of a Singaporean company who wish to relocate to manage company operations

  • Locally-incorporated Singaporean companies that need to hire non-local talent

  • Foreign individuals with an employment offer from a Singapore-based employer. In this scenario, the employer will be responsible for applying for the EP on the foreign employee’s behalf

It's important to note that candidates must earn at least $5,000 a month to qualify for the Employment Pass. They must also pass a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)

Singapore Employment Pass requirements

self assessment tool

The main requirements for the Singapore Employment Pass are as follows:

  • Individuals must possess executive or managerial roles or have specialized qualifications.
  • Applicant must be employed full time with minimum monthly salary requirements of SGD$5000 (or current market rates)
  • Candidates must have an acceptable qualification. This typically includes a recognised university degree, professional qualifications, specialised skills or a proven track record in the relevant field. 

All applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Prior to applying, the MOM encourages all applicants to utilise the Employment Pass Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) on the MyMOM portal to get a clear estimation of whether they meet the current EP requirements. Positive SAT scores are usually a good indicator of a successful EP application.

List of documents required for Singapore Employment Pass application

Photocopies of the relevant documents must be submitted along with a completed EP application form:

  • Personal particulars page of the applicant’s passport
  • The company’s latest business profile or information is registered with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
  • Candidate's academic qualifications and any relevant educational certificates

The above must be in English. Otherwise, an English translation and copies of the original documents must be submitted.

For applications from India and China, additional documents are needed:

  • Indian applicants – transcripts and mark-sheets
  • Chinese applicants – certificate of graduation and verified proof of these documents

You are required to notify the Ministry of Manpower in the event of:

  • Any change in the pass holder's salary
  • Change in company's financial information
  • If there is an inter-company transfer of EP holder
  • If the EP holder goes missing
  • Change in EP holder's residential address
  • Change in company's name
  • Any change in the company address
  • Any change in occupation and responsibilities
  • Any change in EP holder's personal information including passport details, marital status or name.

How to apply for the Employment Pass in Singapore

The Singapore Employment Pass application can be done online via the EP online portal.

Applicants are not required to be physically present in Singapore during the application process.

  1. Obtain the candidate's authorization to apply for the Employment Pass.

  2. Complete the candidate’s form, which includes essential information needed for the application and can be sent to the candidate for completion.

  3. Submit the EP application and upload all necessary documents. Before submitting the application, ensure that your organisation's turnover information for the past three years is up-to-date.

  4. Settle the $105 fee using GIRO, Visa, Mastercard, or Amex payment methods.

How to check your application status

You may check your application status online after 10 business days. If your application is still pending after 10 business days, remember to check your email for any requests for additional documents.

If additional information or documents are required, you will need to resubmit those documents and the processing time may take longer than 10 business days.

Other EP-related transactions that can be done through the portal include:

  • Family passes for the EP holders
  • Work permit for family pass holders
  • renewal of EP pass, family pass and work permit for family pass holders
  • Application status check
  • EP rejection appeals
  • EP cancellation

The candidate must arrive in Singapore only after the EP is approved.

Overseas employers that don’t currently have a registered office in Singapore must get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor and apply for the EP on their behalf. In this case, only manual applications are allowed.

Find out about Airswift's GEO solutions

Singapore Employment Pass duration 

The duration of the pass is up to two years for first-time candidates. Renewed Employment Passes are valid for up to three years. The renewal application must be submitted to the MOM at least four weeks before the current Employment pass expires.

It's worth noting that a work pass could be cancelled before the expiry date if the employment status changes. If this happens, the pass holder is not allowed to continue working in Singapore.

Singapore Employment Pass processing time

According to the MOM, it can take an average of three weeks for online applications and up to eight weeks for manual applications made by overseas companies with no registered entity in Singapore.

In special cases, there are other options to consider, such as the EntrePass, Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) or ONE Pass Singapore. 

What to do if your Employment Pass application is rejected

In the event your EP application is rejected, an appeal can be made after three months has passed. However, you should only do so if you can address the cause for rejection. In many cases, a rejection advisory issue for an unsuccessful EP application, and applicants can refer to it via EP online to view the reasons behind the rejection and get advice on the next best steps to take.

It's important to note that rejected candidates are not allowed to make the appeal personally. Only the employer or the authorised third party responsible for submitting the initial application may appeal.

MOM normally takes at least three weeks to process an appeal.

Renewing your Singapore Employment Pass 

Renewing an expired EP is a far more efficient process than the application itself

The Employment Pass renewal can be done anytime within six months of the Pass’ expiration date. The process takes an average of seven working days and, once approved, the renewed EP is valid for another three years.

Again, it's important to note that all renewal requests must be submitted by the company or employment agent. 

How to cancel your Singapore Employment Pass

An employer must cancel an Employment Pass immediately once the pass holder no longer works for them. The cancellation must be done within a week of the last day of notice.

When deciding to cancel an EP, the employee should take note of the following:

  • All related family passes will also be cancelled
  • Before leaving the job, the employee must submit all tax clearances from the from Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
  • The employee is entitled to a 30-day short-term visit pass (STVP) that will allow them to remain in Singapore for the aforementioned period

Are Singapore Employment Pass holders eligible for permanent residency in Singapore?

Yes, they are.

If you are an EP holder who has worked for a minimum of six months in Singapore, you may apply for permanent residence through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme.

Hiring and working in Singapore

As one of the world’s most recognised business capitals, Singapore offers numerous options for companies and individuals.

The EntrePass, is yet another popular option for foreign companies interested in starting a business in Singapore.

For companies keen on hiring talent from Singapore but don’t want to set up an entity there, a Global Employment and Mobility (GEM) partner like Airswift can help take on the complexities relating to HR, payroll, compliance and more.

Advice for employers: Consider all candidates fairly

mycareersfuture landing page

Prior to applying for an Employment Pass, companies must first advertise their available jobs on MyCareersFuture. This ensures that all candidates within Singapore get a fair consideration for job opportunities. This step is required of all employers.

The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) necessitates that all employers in Singapore must fairly consider candidates without any discrimination relating to race, gender, age or nationality.

All employers in Singapore are expected to adhere to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

International expansion with Airswift's Employer of Record

global expansion plans with Airswift

An Employer of Record (EOR) is a service provided by Global Employment Outsourcing companies that helps client companies do business or hire talent in Singapore without having to set up a physical entity.

By already having an entity in place in the targeted country, the EOR helps clients employ professionals by serving as their legal employer in that location.

They also help to manage all the tasks relating to local labour law compliance, work permit and Visa sponsorships, employee benefit arrangements and more. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you.

This post was written by: Leanna Seah, Content Manager