Everything you need to know about the Singapore Employment Pass

January 28, 2021

Source: HTU/Shutterstock

A comprehensive guide to Singapore's Employment Pass

Singapore's thriving economy makes it a fruitful location for businesses who 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 to to mobilise talent into the Singaporean market, Airswift's Singapore Employment Pass (EP) guide contains everything you need to know about how international talent can live and work in the country.

Who is eligible for the Singapore Employment Pass?

The Singapore Employment Pass criteria consists of the following:

  • 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 Singaporean employer. In this scenario, the employer will be responsible for applying for the EP on the employee’s behalf

Employment Pass Singapore Requirements

self assessment tool

  • Individuals who possess executive or managerial roles or are in specialised jobs
  • Applicant must be employed full time with a minimum salary of SGD$4,500 (or current market rates)
  • Possess acceptable qualification. This typically includes a recognised university degree, professional qualifications, specialised skills or a proven track record

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 utilize the Employment Pass Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to get a clear estimation on whether they meet the current EP requirements. Positive SAT scores are usually a good indicator of a successful EP application.

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.

How to apply for the Employment Pass in Singapore

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

For overseas employers that don’t currently have a registered office in Singapore, they 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

For first time candidates, the EP issued will expire after three years. Upon which it can be renewed if needed.

Documents required for Employment Pass application

Documents for employment pass

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

  • Personal particulars page of the applicant’s passport
  • Company’s latest business profile or information registered with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
  • Candidates academic certificates

The above must be in English otherwise, an English translation must be submitted along with copies of the original documents.

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

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.

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.

Also, rejected candidates are not allowed to make the appeal. 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 the 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 under within six months of the Pass’ expiration date. The process takes an average of seven working days and once approved; the renewed EP is good for another three years.

How to cancel an 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
  • Prior to 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 a permanent residency through the Professional, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers (PTS) scheme.

Hiring and working in Singapore

As one of the world’s most recognized 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 (GEO) partner like Airswift can help take on the complexities relating to HR, payroll, compliance and more.

International expansion with Airswift’s Employer of Record

global expansion plans

An Employer of Record (EOR) is a service provided by GEO companies that helps client companies do business or hire talent in new markets 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 Marketing Coordinator