FAQ for EP
Both passes were designed for high-paid PME (professional, managerial, and executive) talents, and, therefore, they have lots in common (such as the requirements, the validity period, or the order of application). But there are significant distinctive features as well in both the requirements and the benefits. They are experience, the qualifying salary, the priority of applying for permanent residence and the circle of relatives the foreigner can take along to Singapore. To get qualified for P1 type, a foreigner must command a salary of no less than 8,000 SGD and richer working experience, whereas the salary benchmark for P2 is much lower (4,500 SGD) the same as demands on expertise. The holders of P1 have more chances in getting approved as permanent residents; they can start application process after a year of working in the country. For holders of P2, this period is longer; in some cases, a foreigner needs to wait for up to 2 years in order to increase his chances for approval. And finally, holders of P1 can invite their children and official spouses (on Dependant’s Passes) and other family members including parents (on Long Term Visit Pass) to Singapore, but holders of P2 are deprived of the right to take parents along.
Although the US citizens don’t need a visa for entering Singapore (for a stay that lasts no longer than 3 months); they, however, need an Employment Pass (EP) if they wish to enter Singapore for a work purpose. In order to get qualified for this visa, a US citizen must secure a job in Singapore first. EP doesn’t set specific demands for the citizens of the USA; they are general for all nations and include these points:
- the prospected salary of at least 3,300 SGD (4,500 SGD for P2 and 8,000 SGD for P1 types of visa);
- an adequate educational qualification (a diploma and a degree) from a respectable institution;
- relevant work experience;
- a set of unique asked-for skills (please see the list of occupations in demand on the website of the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower);
- age (the older the applicant is, the higher demands on his experience are);
- nationality: coming for the tier-one country gives you some privileges against counterparts for less-developed countries but still doesn’t exempt you from meeting the requirements.
Foreigners coming to Singapore from the UK for a job purpose are obliged to become holders of the Employment Pass. Getting the job offer from a Singaporean company is the basic requirement of getting the visa. Other requirements include:
- the expected salary of at least 3,300 SGD for young graduates (older and more experienced applicants are expected to command 4,500 SGD and 8,000 SGD accordingly);
- universally recognized educational qualification (diploma and degree) from a respectable institution;
- relevant work expertise;
- a set of unique skills that are missing in the Singaporean labour market (please see the list of skills in demand on the website of the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower);
- age (the older the foreigner is, the higher demands on his expertise and educational qualifications are);
- nationality: the UK citizenship gives you some privileges against counterparts from lower-tier or less-developed countries but still doesn’t exempt you from meeting the requirements.
Although Australian citizens have a visa-free access to Singapore, they still must get an Employment Pass if they want to work in the country. Being hired by a local Singaporean company is the basic requirement of getting the EP because this visa is attached to the employer and is initiated by the employer only. Other requirements are common for all nationalities and include:
- the prospected salary of at least 3,300 SGD for graduates (older foreigners with greater expertise must command 4,500 SGD or 8,000 SGD accordingly);
- universally recognized educational qualification (diploma and degree);
- relevant work expertise;
- a set of unique skills that are scarce in the Singaporean labour market (please see the list of skills in demand on the website of the Ministry of Manpower);
- age (the older the applicant is, the higher demands on his expertise and educational qualifications are);
- nationality: Australian citizenship gives you some privileges against counterparts for lower-tier or less-developed countries but still doesn’t exempt you from meeting the requirements.
Usually, when all submitted documents are in perfect order and the application form is compiled proficiently, the consideration takes up to 7-10 working days if you apply using EP Online (an electronic service developed by the Ministry of Manpower) or when you entrust your case to an expert visa agency. Processing of manual applications usually takes up to 5 weeks. Please take into account that the Ministry of Manpower will consider not only your personal merits but also the performance and business characteristics of the hiring company, so the velocity of the processing will greatly depend on coordination of both yours and the hiring company’s efforts. Sometimes, some additional documents can be required by the MOM. In such cases, you win if you rely on the visa agency: due to their perfect communication with the MOM, such requests can be satisfied immediately which shortens the general processing time.
You can get updates on your application’s status either on the website of the Ministry of Manpower (on the EP Online account) or from your visa agent that is helping you throughout the whole process of obtaining a visa. When your EP application is handled by the expert agency, you don’t have to worry that you might miss something important because the agency keeps you updated during the whole period until your visa is approved. If your employer decides to apply on his own (without involving a visa agency), you must know that if your status is stated as “Follow Up”, it means you have submitted incorrect documents and you should re-submit them.
Foreigners, after they submit their applications and the supportive documents, are usually gnawed by doubts and fears: how is my application doing. You can bate your curiosity in 2 ways: you either check your application’s condition using the service EP Online or, if your application is handled by a specialized visa agency, you can get necessary updates from its agents. If the employer lodges the application independently, a double carefulness is needed. You must check the application’s status regularly in order not to miss important notifications from the MOM. For example, if the application status is “Follow Up”, it means the MOM finds documents you submitted unsatisfactory and you should re-submit them.
The Ministry of Manpower has developed a streamlined scheme of online EP applications – web service EP Online. All submissions of applications and documents, as well as the post-submission communication take place there. After the hiring company lodged the required documentation there, the company and the employee you can track their application until the “result” day. You shouldn’t miss updates because if the MOM suddenly requires some additional documents, you must provide them ASAP.
The online application is possible for the hiring companies and authorised agencies who manage the application process on behalf of the hiring company. The application and the related documents can be submitted on the web service developed by the Ministry of Manpower (EP Online). On the website of the Ministry of Manpower, you can find the fees, the list of required documents, terms and instructions about how the application takes place. To ensure the highest speed of the visa processing, you must provide impeccable documents and a polished application.
If EP holders lose their card or damage it, they must ask for a replacement no later than 1 week often the event. You can make the request of the new card using the account on EP Online. Fees and procedure are described on the website of the Ministry of Manpower. If you lose or damage your card again, the fee is threefold. If the card was stolen, police must be informed. Take into account that, if the loss (damage or thievery) happens when you are abroad, you must obtain the Embarkation card when you arrive in Singapore. The new card is usually produced in 4 working days. When the old card is suddenly found, it must be returned to the authorities immediately.
Employment Pass is one of the easiest ways of getting the permanent resident status in Singapore. Theoretically, to get qualified, you must provide salary slips for the last half a year during which you have worked in Singapore. But practically working for at least 6 months in the country isn’t enough. Visa agencies recommend P1 holders to apply for PR after 1 year of working in Singapore, P2 holders after 2-3 years and Q1 even later (probably after renewal) in order not to jeopardise the chance. The EP holder can get PR status not only for himself but also for his dependant family members; one application is enough for the whole family. Please contact our visa consultants for more details and free assessment of the particular situation of your family.
Dependant’s Pass can be processed if the EP holder is able to act as a sponsor for this family member which means his salary is enough to support them. Both P1 and P2 passes allow the EP holder to take an official spouse and children younger than 21 years old along (legally adopted children are also included). According to the MOM’s calculation, the minimum salary that allows a foreigner to sponsor dependants is 4,000 SGD provided that he works for a well-established Singaporean company. From the 1st of September 2015, the government raises this benchmark to 5,000 SGD. So, not all holders of P2 and Q1 passes will be able to apply for Dependant’s Passes for their family members.
The Long Term Visit Pass was designed for parents, common-law spouses, handicapped and step-children whom an EP holder is willing to sponsor in Singapore. Today the salary benchmark that is considered by the MOM as sufficient for sponsoring these categories of relatives is 4,000SGD, but it is going to become 5,000 SGD after the 1st of September, 2015. Please take into account that for parents this benchmark is higher – 8,000 SGD. So, unfortunately, LTVP will soon be unavailable for Q1 category of EP and some holders of P2 EP as their salary start from 3,300 SGD and 4,500 SGD accordingly.
Holders of Dependant’s passes are allowed to work under 2 schemes: firstly, if they get the Letter of Consent, they can start working provided that they can find the job; secondly, if eligible, this person always can get qualified for EP on the usual terms (to have a job offer and to meet regular EP requirements). Please take into consideration that obtaining the Employment Pass (or S Pass) cancels the person’s Dependant’s Pass as he/she is no longer a dependent.
The basic requirements for getting the permanent status are:
- being employed in Singapore for a certain period of time by a well-established local company;
- being able to provide salary slips for the last 6 month (worked in Singapore);
- being employed at the moment of application.
However, the employment during 6 months doesn’t guarantee you immediate approval. The practice shows that the government prefers to see longer working history: for P1 type of EP it is over 1 year, for P2 it is over 2 years, and for Q1 it is more (accordingly). So, probably, in some cases, the most difficult thing is waiting. If settling permanently in Singapore sounds like something desirable for you, it is wise to strategize your PR application beforehand. A part of service our visa agency provides is defining the most winning time for pursuing PR and building up the solid employment profile for it.
Usually, the reasons for EP rejection are two: either the foreign talent lacks skills which are scarce in Singapore or the hiring company doesn’t perform well (according to MOM’s expectations). The government reluctantly gives EP visas to foreigners whose talents aren’t so rare in Singapore; it doesn’t want to create extra competition for the local manpower but rather pamper it. That’s why the hiring company (generally, its HR department) must do its best to persuade the government they can’t find a talent like you in Singapore. The government will also scrutinise the hiring company especially its hiring policy among locals. The company that discriminates the locals is likely to get rejected. Another rule the government carefully watches companies following is an advertising the job position for the locals before offering it to a foreigner.
If you have worked in Singapore for a certain period of time and are still employed, you can apply for permanent resident visa provided that you can show salary slips for the last half a year. However, it doesn’t mean that working in Singapore for 6 months is enough for getting PR. The foreigner should build up a solid working history in Singapore, and its length greatly depends on his/her type of Employment Pass. Holders of P1 should work for at least 1 year; holders of P2 should put off their application for 2-3 years while holders of Q1 should have even longer work history. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you should procrastinate with preparing for the application until the “date” comes. You should use this time for building up your employment profile to increase your chances for success. If you don’t know how to do it, ask the advice of our experienced visa consultants.
The processing time for the Employment Pass depends on the way you submitted your application. If it was lodged using the service EP Online, you will find out the result in 7-10 days. But if you submitted your documents manually, the procedure will take up to 5 weeks. The velocity of processing will greatly depend on the correctness of your documents. Sometimes the result is delayed because of an issue with papers. Ensure you wring the maximum out of your situation and submit well-polished papers. Address this matter to a specialised visa agency if you aren’t sure you would manage it.
If you get the letter from the MOM informing you that your EP application was rejected, you have 3 months for preparing the appeal. This step must be well-considered, as it will define the destiny of your visa (although you can appeal as many times as you want, the more rejections you get, the farther you are from the desired approval). The MOM describes the reason of rejection in the letter or your agency can investigate into it if it seems unclear. The purport of appeal is to provide all missing documents and strengthen any weak points of your application. If you don’t provide new information, you are likely to face a rejection again and lose your chance. It is an elaborate job that should be entrusted to professionals who know all pitfalls of the EP procedure. Involve a seasoned visa team that will analyse your mistakes and develop a winning strategy.
Two factors cause rejections of the EP oftener than others. They are a skill issue and the hiring company’s insecurity. The government is interested in foreign talents that “import” skills which the country needs, not the ones it has in abundance. The MOM aims at boosting employment among the local manpower and increasing its competitiveness, and, therefore, the authorities shrink the inrush of foreigners who would compete with the locals. Only irreplaceable and missing foreign talents are welcomed. Your application may face rejection if the employer and you fail to prove the uniqueness of your role in Singapore or if it is obvious that the job you claim for can be done by any mediocre Singaporean.
Another reason of rejection is when the government finds any drawbacks in the hiring company. They can be the startup’s young age, poor performance, insufficient paid-up capital, discriminative attitude to local manpower, or failing to advertise the job position for the locals during 2 weeks before offering it to a foreigner.
All incomes earned in Singapore are taxed, and the rate depends on the amount of revenue and whether the foreigner is considered a resident or a non-resident. You don’t pay any taxes if you have worked in Singapore only during 60 days during the year or less or if your native country has signed the agreement of Avoidance of Double Taxation with Singapore. You are still considered a non-resident if you have spent (worked) in Singapore less than 183 days a year; your income is taxed at the rate of 15% (or at the resident’s rate). If you have spent more than 183 days a year in the country, you are considered a tax resident and will be taxed accordingly.
The Singaporean government has developed a special taxation scheme for foreign talents giving them the status of “Not Ordinary Residents”. The scheme frees foreign talents from paying taxes on some part of their income if they spend over 90 days abroad on business purposes. The “taxable” portion will be defined according to the number of days a foreigner spends in Singapore. To qualify for the scheme, you must be a tax resident for a year and go through an assessment. You can learn more about your tax opportunities on the website of IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore).
The visa can be cancelled only by the company-sponsor using the service EP Online or via an authorised visa agency. The company must cancel the EP of its foreign worker if the employment ends or when the pass expires. The cancellation takes only a couple of minutes, so if a foreigner needs time to prepare for departure, a Short Term Visit Pass, which is issued for 30 days, can be processed while making the cancellation procedure. The cancellation of the EP entails cancellation of all Dependant’s Passes and Long Term Visit Passes that were attached to it. The card must be returned to the authorities in 1 week after cancellation.
Personalised Employment Pass is a premium version of the Employment Pass developed especially for the highest-paid foreign PME talents who earn no less than 18,000 SGD. The PEP’s main distinctive benefit is that the visa is granted for personal merits only and isn’t attached to any specific employer. Its holder can spend 3 years in Singapore looking for a job, working and switching employers as often as he wants staying under the same pass. In comparison: EP is attached to a single employer; you can get it only after being hired by him and you will need a new EP if you decide to change the employer. So flexibility is the man PEP’s feature. This premium visa fits talents who want to experience a new career boost without limiting their freedom. The visa puts you in a more favourable position when you are job-hunting: the employer is more likely to hire a PEP holder because it frees the company from bothering with the EP application.
The advantages of the PEP are balanced with its drawbacks: the visa is valid only during 3 years and can’t be extended; if you fail to find job during more than 6 months, your visa will be cancelled. You aren’t also allowed to start your own business in Singapore under this visa. For comparison: despite EP is issued only for 1-2 years, it can be extended as many times as needed (under certain requirements). EP allows the foreigner to start his own business. The minimum salary benchmark is much lower for EP: 3,300 SGD.
Employment Pass is an option for high-skilled PME talents whose salary starts from 3,300 SGD, whereas S Pass is intended for medium skilled employees whose salary starts from 2,200 SGD. But this isn’t the only difference. S Pass is subject to quota and levies which means the employer can hire only a limited number of foreigners (15-20 % of total staff depending on the industry sector) and that he must pay a specific monthly amount of money for his foreign employee. The amount of this levy depends not only on the employee’s qualification (for example, 300 SGD a month for more skilled worker and 550 SGD for basic skilled), but also on his/her nationality. The government is going to increase the levy in 2016. So it is obvious that if the expected salary meets the EP salary requirement, EP is better for both the employee and the employer.
Employment Pass allows foreigners to live in Singapore as long as they are employed and meet certain renewal criteria. But if you plan to stay in Singapore for a longer time, it turns into a headache: you must go through renewals, which aren’t a trivial formality, but procedures complicated with high demands of the MOM. Plus you need a new EP every time you get a better job. You would avoid all these nuisances by getting the status of a permanent resident. Singaporean PR gives you a lot of privileges. For example, you can freely travel without any visa hassles at the borders. You get more freedom in growing your business, making investments, and buying property. PR visa holders can invest in their future by making contributions to the Central Provident Fund that covers your expenses in healthcare, education of your children, buying property and your need in pension. There are many other benefits, but still there is only one drawback: becoming a permanent resident means that your sons will be obliged to join a military service in Singapore.
Any important changes that happen to the EP holder or the employer (change in address, personal or company’s particulars, business entity, company name and so on) must be reflected in the governmental system EP Online. When the employee moves to a new address, he must inform the MOM about this change in no longer than 2 weeks; otherwise, a penalty may be applied. The employer can make this change on the EP holder’s behalf.
A fee is applied when you submit the application and then when the visa is issued. You can find out exact fees on the website of the Ministry of Manpower.
Depending on the way your documents are submitted, the processing time is different. When you lodge your application and related documents using the electronic service EP Online or your documents are being submitted by the visa agency, your request will be processed in 7-10 days. If you decide to submit documents manually, the MOM needs up to 5 weeks to come up with the result. When you fail to provide all required documents or there are mistakes or vagueness in them, the processing time might be longer. Visa agencies achieve the shortest processing time due to the diligence they check and compile documents with.
Yes. Foreigners who live and work in Singapore can enter Malaysia under Multiple Entry Visa.
Employment Pass allows a foreigner to stay and work in Singapore during 1-2 years; after this period, the visa must be extended if the foreigner wishes to stay in Singapore. There are three ways how you can renew your EP: using an electronic system, manually, or via expert visa agency. EP online (if you have an account there) allows you to apply for the visa’s extension 6 months before the expiry day. If you don’t have an account, you can apply manually when you receive the form via mail (3 months before the expiry date), but you shouldn’t hesitate as the authorities must get the form 2 weeks before the expiry day. The procedure takes up to 7 days (if you applied online) or up to 5 weeks (if you applied manually). The period you visa is prolonged for is at MOM’s discretion, but it cannot be longer than 3 years.
Now about the requirements. The MOM doesn’t guarantee renewals, and being still employed isn’t a guarantee of the approval. Foreigners will be assessed for correspondence with the positions they occupy (how just is their salary or how it corresponds with their experience) the same as hiring companies will be checked for insecurities or discriminative hiring practices.
Rejections happen. First of all, you must find out the reason of the rejection. Usually, the MOM explains it in the letter that informs you about the rejection. The success of your appeal will depend on how good you understand the issue and how efficiently you work on fixing it. If you aren’t sure you understand, it’s better to entrust this issue to a visa agency that is skilled in “saving” rejected visas. Once the weak points of your application are detected, the employer (visa agency) must work on strengthening it. Probably claims you made in the application weren’t proved with appropriate documents (for example, you failed to prove the worker’s valuable skills which are in short supply in Singapore) or the documents were compiled incorrectly. The hiring company could also fail to meet all the requirements (for example, the demand to advertise the job position on the local job market before offering this post to a foreigner).
The point of appeal is in providing new information which your application lacked the first time. If you appeal without new data, you are likely to get rejected and seriously jeopardize your chance. The successful appeal is the well-coordinated efforts of both the employer and the employee backed up by a professional visa agency. A seasoned visa team is able to analyse your previous mistakes and develop a winning strategy.
No, unless you have the permission of the government as a personality that made a significant contribution to Singaporean society or economy. You aren’t also allowed to buy flats built by the Housing and Development Board, bungalows, state land and other “restricted” kinds of property. Being an EP holder, you can buy only a condo, but make sure you can afford the downpayment (20%), as the bank gives you maximum of 80% provided that you are found trustworthy. Please also take into consideration that foreigners who buy the residential property must pay an Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty which is 15%. If settling down in Singapore is what you are really looking for, it is better to put off your property buying plans until you get the status of a permanent resident. As a permanent resident, you get more freedom in buying property. Find out when you can apply for PR at our free consultation.
After you receive the in-principal approval letter, you must print it and use it as an entry visa to arrive in Singapore no later than 6 months after getting the approval. Once the foreigner is in Singapore, he/she must request issuance of the EP using the account on EP Online service. After paying the fee, you receive and print the notification letter about your pass’ issuance. It allows you to stay in the country for 30 days while waiting for your EP card. Then you must register your fingerprints and take a photo at the Employment Pass Service Centre. At this stage, you will probably need to submit some additional documents. The card delivery usually takes up to 4 working days. You will receive the card at the address you provided at the registration.
A year ago, in 2014, the government toughened the demands to foreigners and local companies that hire them. Firstly, the qualifying salary bar was raised to 3,300 SGD. And secondly, a new rule was introduced to hiring companies: within the Fair Consideration Framework, they must advertise the job position on the Singaporean job market before giving the post to a foreigner. Foreigners who plan to take their families along (under Dependant’s Passes) must take into consideration that the minimum salary that allows sponsoring dependants will be increased to 5,000 SGD from September, 2015.
The procedure of EP cancellation is immediate, and it means the foreigner has no right to stay in the country anymore. But there is a way out: if you need some time before the departure, you can apply for the Short Term Visit Pass when you make the cancellation. This visa gives you 30 days which you can use either for leaving Singapore or for searching for a new job.
According to official statistics, therewere 178,900 EP holders in December 2014.
EP holders are allowed to buy condominiums provided that they can afford the downpayment which is 20%. The bank can give the missing 80% if the EP holder is considered trustworthy. Foreigners can’t buy private houses, bungalows, terrace houses, semi-detached houses, HDB flats, and other landed property unless they have the permission of the Singapore Land Authority for making a “significant contribution to Singaporean society or economy”. You can apply for approval on their website. But still, if you are seriously thinking about settling down in Singapore, you should consider getting the permanent resident status first: it will boost your property buying opportunities.
You don’t have to change or renew your EP visa if your passport changes. You only have to inform the MOM about these changes (your passport’s number, your new name or the date of issue) using the account on EP Online. On the website of the MOM, you can find and download the form called “Request Form for Amendment of Personal Particulars”. Fill it in and submit along with other papers required in the form.
If your EP visa is about to expire, you should start usual renewal procedure. You can apply for renewal 6 months before the expiry date using the account on EP Online. If your company doesn’t have the account, it can use the form received by mail 3 months before the expiry date. Ensure the MOM knows the company’s correct current address in order not to miss the renewal notification.
Yes. If you plan to stay in Singapore for no longer than 12 months, you can use your foreign driving licence for driving a car in the country. Please take into consideration that unless you have an international Driving Permit, you should have your driving licence translated into English. If you become a permanent resident in Singapore or stay longer than 12 months, you must convert your own licence into the Singaporean one for being allowed to drive. How does this conversion happen? If you initiate this conversion during the first 12 months of your stay in Singapore, you only need to pass a basic theory test.
Nevertheless, maintaining and driving a car is very expensive in Singapore. Unless you are provided with a car service from your hiring company, you should rather consider using taxis which are a safe, clean and affordable way to go places in Singapore.
After your pass’ application gets rejected, you are given 3 months for preparing and submitting your appeal. If you fail to appeal during this period, you must start the application procedure from the beginning. Once the appeal is lodged, the consideration takes 3 weeks (or slightly longer). Please take into consideration that your appeal will be effective only in case you are able to fix the issue that is mentioned in the rejection advisory. If you aren’t sure you understand the issue or can fix it on your own, please turn this appeal matter over to a professional visa agency that has experience in addressing hard issues.
Holders of the Employment Pass are allowed to buy condos only. If you expect to take a loan from the bank, ensure you are able to afford the downpayment which is 20%. Landed properties such as private houses, bungalows, semi-detached and terrace houses, and HDB flats are “saved” for the Singaporeans (and permanent residents). You must get a special permission from the Singapore Land Authority for buying these kinds of property. You can apply for approval on their website. However, if you have far-seeing plans in Singapore, you should consider getting the status of a permanent resident first: you will have better property buying opportunities.
As the Employment Pass is a kind of visa that is “attached” to a specific employer, every time you change the employer, you must change the EP. If you have found a better job, your new employer must start the EP application procedure and then if your new visa gets approved, your past employer must cancel your old visa. If you pursue bigger freedom in changing jobs while staying in Singapore and want to avoid bothering with EP application each time, you should consider getting the Personalised Employment Pass. This kind of visa is “attached” to you only, so you can freely change employers staying under the same visa.
The basic difference lies in the destination of these visas and their salary scopes. EP was designed for high-skilled foreign professionals, directors and managers whose salary starts from 3,300 SGD whereas medium skilled employees whose wages start from 2,200 SGD can expect getting S Pass. Another important detail that distinguishes the EP from the S Pass is that the latter is subject to a levy and a quota. Companies can hire an unlimited number of foreigners under E Passes whereas the number of S Pass holders they can hire shouldn’t be more than 15-20 % of total staff (this percentage depends on the industry sector). Moreover, the employer must pay a levy for every S Pass holder. This amount of money is quite high; for some sectors it ranges from 300 SGD (for a more skilled worker) to 550 SGD (for less skilled) monthly. The government plans to increase the levy in 2016. The same as EP holders, S Pass holders can claim for permanent residence in a due time after they have worked a certain number of years in Singapore.
After the company submits documents and the EP application form using the electronic service EP Online, it usually takes the government 7-10 days to process the request. If the application is submitted manually, the procedure will take up to 5 weeks. The processing time greatly depends on the quality of documentation you provide. Delays happen when the applicant fails to submit exhaustive documentation that substantiates every proof that is made in the application.
You have three ways to apply for EP. Firstly, the employer can apply on his own using the web service EP Online. This is the fastest method of application; consideration takes up to 7-10 days. Secondly, the employer can apply manually, but this way of application is much longer; the result will be known in 5 weeks. And thirdly, the employer can turn the application matter over to an expert visa agency that can do the paperwork, build up the employee’s and the employer’s profiles, compile a prominent application and handle the electronic submission. This way of application is both the most reliable and the fastest. Most delays happen when the employer fails to provide exhaustive evidence of facts mentioned in the application. Most rejections happen because the applicants are unaware of the latest trends of the MOM. Involving a professional visa consultancy helps to avoid these issues.
After the application was submitted, the employer can track the process of visa consideration using the account on EP Online. If the status is stated as “Follow Up”, it means the government found issues in the documentation you had provided, and you must re-submit your papers. If the employer involves a help of the visa agency, the consultants will keep him updated about the turns of the procedure. They will also react when the authorities need some additional documentation.
The duration of the Employment Pass procedure depends on the way you submitted your application and documents. If you lodge your application online using the governmental website, the consideration usually takes up to 7-10 days (depending on the quality of your submitted documents). If you applied manually, processing of your visa will take up to 5 weeks.
The minimum salary that allows you to try your wings in the EP application is 3,300 SGD. Please take into account that this salary is appointed to the Q1 category pass that is intended for young graduates who have an excellent educational qualification but modest related experience. If you are older and more experienced, you must command a higher salary. The minimum salary for P2 is 4,500 SGD, whereas, for P1, it is 8,000 SGD. There is no maximum salary for EP, but if during the last 6 months you have had a salary of at least 18,000 SGD, you can qualify for the Personalised Employment Pass which gives you more freedom in landing jobs.
In the in-principle approval letter, the MOM will inform you whether you need to have a medical check up or no and, if you need, the MOM will explain in details what you have to be tested for. Foreigners arrive in Singapore from different countries and these countries have different standards of health care, and, therefore, the government practises such individual approach. If you are told to go through a medical examination, you must know that only certified doctors and laboratories are authorized to fill in the form. You must submit this form along with other documents before getting your EP card.
Until you don’t know the result of your EP application, you can search for this information on expat blogs or inquire for this matter at the visa agency.
Employers aren’t obliged to buy a health insurance for their foreign workers employed under EP. Usually, most professionals or managers already have their own insurances, but if they don’t have, they should decide on their own whether they need it or not. Foreigners must ensure that the insurance they have at the moment is able to cover their needs in Singapore.
To apply for the EP, you need either to lodge the application using EP Online or to submit it manually. You can also use a more proficient way of application: via visa agency that offers free eligibility assessment, help in paperwork and shoulders the application procedure from the beginning till the end.
The in-principle approval letter is sent to you if your application gets approved. After being printed, it serves as an entry permit to Singapore. The foreign worker must arrive in Singapore no later than 6 months after his/her visa was approved. Once the foreigner is already in Singapore, his employer can request the issuance of the EP. It can be done using EP Online service or via visa agency.
The approval time for the Employment Pass depends on the way the application was submitted. If it was submitted using electronic service EP Online, the result will be announced in 7 days or more. If you submitted documents and the application manually, it will take the MOM up to 5 weeks to process your request and make the decision. The speed of processing greatly depends on the accuracy your documents were prepared with. If MOM has any questions concerning the hiring company or the foreigner, it will ask for clarifying, and it will put off the approval day. Applying with a visa agency is the fastest way to get your visa approved because they take care of the documents and know the latest MOM’s requirements.
The list of occupations you can apply for under the Employment Pass is published on the website of the Ministry of Manpower in the “Work Passes and Permits/Employment Pass” submenu.
Both P1 and P2 Employment Passes are designed for the most talented and high-paid category of foreign talents. They have similar requirements but different salary scopes. P2 starts from 4,500 SGD whereas P1 starts from 8,000 SGD. The foreigner who commands higher salary is expected to showcase superior experience and skills. The difference between these two visas lies also in the due time their holders can apply for permanent residence, and the circle of relatives and family members they can take along in Singapore. Holders of P1 EP usually become eligible for PR after a year of working in Singapore whereas expats working under P2 would need to work a longer period (2-3 years).
P1 holders can apply for Dependant’s Passes for their official spouse and native (officially adopted) children younger than 21 years old. They are also eligible to take parents and other relatives along under the Long Term Visit Pass. Holders of P2 EP aren’t allowed to take parents along. Now the salary benchmark that allows EP holders to become a sponsor is set at 4,000 SGD, but the government is going to increase this benchmark to 5,000 SGD in September, 2015. So soon, P2 holders whose salary is lower than 5,000 SGD won’t be eligible to take family and relatives to Singapore.
EP doesn’t tie foreigners to Singapore, and until the visa is valid, they can travel abroad for personal and business purposes without losing their visa. If the foreigner decides to leave Singapore permanently and resign the job, the EP must be cancelled using EP Online.
Yes, the EP holder can give birth to a child in Singapore, but this matter is a little bit hard as it hinges on the parents’ salary. Now, the salary that allows sponsoring dependants in Singapore is 4,000 SGD, but this amount will increase to 5,000 SGD in September, 2015. If at least one of the parents earns at least 5,000 SGD, the newborn baby can stay in Singapore under the Dependant’s Pass. The second parent probably will have to quit the job for some time to take care of the child. If both parents earn less than 5,000 SGD, the baby must be sent overseas. The fact of being born in Singapore is crucial for the baby as it will be in a more favourable position when the child will get qualified for the permanent residence.
For a foreigner, to get the credit card in Singapore is much harder than for a local or a resident, but still it is possible provided that your annual salary fits the bank’s requirements.
Employment Pass is issued for work only, if you are looking for an opportunity to combine studying with work in Singapore, you should consider applying for the Work Holiday Programme or a Training Work Permit. You can find the information about both passes on the website of the Ministry of Manpower.
Yes, holders of the Employment Pass are allowed to start their own business in Singapore, but the process of incorporation has its shades for foreigners. You can register your company via BizFile or via the incorporation agency, but according to the incorporation law, the business established in Singapore must have a director who is either a native Singaporean or a Singapore’s permanent resident. This director will temporarily represent your business in Singapore. Later (or when your company is eligible), your company applies for a new EP for you and hires you as a director, and you can replace the local director. Incorporation agencies offer full incorporation services including not only the business registration procedure but also the service of the local director and a secretary.
No. The employment Pass is a kind of visa that is “attached” to a specific employer who applied for this visa for the foreigner. Once the foreigner finds a better job and decides to resign his/her position, his/her new employer must apply for a new visa for him, and the old EP will be cancelled.
Unlike Personalised Employment Pass, Employment Pass doesn’t have a grace period during which you can live in the country unemployed. But when your visa gets cancelled, you have a chance to issue a Short Term Visit Pass (this can be done simultaneously with cancelling the visa) to get 30 more days in Singapore which you can use either for packing your staff and preparing for the departure or for searching for a new job in order to stay in the country.
Usually, the validity of the Employment Pass is 1-2 years. The exact period is at MOM’s discretion.
Employment Pass isn’t subject to quotas, unlike S Pass or Work Permit.
The basic requirement for getting the Employment Pass is getting the job in a well-established Singaporean company. The employer applies for this visa on his own or entrusts this matter to a visa agency. Another one requirement is getting the diploma or degree from a reputable university (Singaporean institutions are at an advantage). So as long as you are still studying in Singapore, you can qualify for the EP based on your educational qualification which you got before. International students of Singaporean institutions who voluntarily work 16 hours or more during the term time and this work isn’t included to the modular credits of their universities must work under suitable work visa (Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit).
Employment Pass is intended for highly-professional expats whose salary starts from 3,300 SGD whereas Work Permit is for semi-skilled employees working in the niche of domestic service, construction, and service whose wages are lower than 2,200 SGD. But this isn’t the only difference. Unlike Employment Pass, Work Permit is subject to a levy (an amount of money the foreigner must pay monthly for his every WP holder) and quota (the percentage of workers the employer can hire under WP). Except these restrictions, the employer is obliged to pay a security bond (5,000 SGD) for each WP holder and buy him/her a healthcare insurance worth at least 15,000 SGD.
Yes, getting married is allowed; however, the EP holder must inform the MOM about the change of marital status (that may entail the change of the holder’s name and passport particulars). The holder can update the information using the service EP Online.
A foreigner is allowed to work in Singapore only if he/she holds a suitable employment visa (Personalised Employment Pass, Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit). Try out the free eligibility assessment service to find out whether you qualify for the Employment Pass.
+ Is there a quota for Employment Pass?
No, there are no government-established restrictions that might prevent a Singaporean employer from hiring you. But still there are several requirements your employer must meet. If the hiring firm doesn’t show enough consideration to local labour force according to the government’s “fair consideration” scheme, it may lead to rejection. Please contact visa experts for detailed list of requirements.
Can a director apply for Employment Pass?
Yes, directors and owners of Singapore-based companies are eligible for EP only if the company was already incorporated. If you need to be in Singapore before the incorporation (in order to quarterback the process), the only option available for you is Entrepreneur Pass. Please remember that for successful incorporation one of the appointed directors of your new firm must be a Singaporean resident (who is eligible to stay there).
No, unless you have another one accomplished education in respectable university. You must have a diploma (or degree) for being considered for Employment Pass; nevertheless, except diploma you need to showcase outstanding working experience in your niche and possess a suit of skills which are rare and valuable for Singapore economy.
Commonly, yes. However, if the company is fresh (younger than 3 years old), MOM lays down stricter conditions for it. Firstly, the firm must prove its “abundant” paid-up capital that allows paying high salaries for EP holders (minimum 3,300 SGD). The employer must prove his business activities using contracts, invoices and other firm’s documentation. The company also has to prove that the locals aren’t under a disadvantage for this hiring. If the firm is new, the employer must provide the Ministry of Manpower with its compelling business plan in order to introduce the firm as an employer and build up a profile for future deals with MOM.
Spouses of EP holders don’t get their EP automatically, as the main premise of getting EP is getting a job in Singapore first. Only the employer can apply for this working visa for the overseas worker. If both husband and wife have found jobs, their employers (or one mutual employer) can initiate the application process. If in the couple only one is an EP holder, the spouse can come to Singapore only under Dependant’s Pass. There a DP holder can apply for rights to work.
Yes, you can, but your opportunities are quite limited. For example, you can buy a condo if you have funds for the downpayment which is 20 %. In case your financial eligibility is trustworthy, you can get 80 % loan from the bank. You aren’t allowed to purchase bungalows, HDB, state land and other “restricted” kinds of property. For more detailed explanation please contact our visa team. If you pursue more freedom in buying property, you should consider applying for PR in a due time.
The main requirement for applying for EP (or S Pass) is having a contact with Singaporean employer because only the employer is authorised to initiate these working visas at the MOM. Unless you have secured the job, you don’t have a sponsor for your application, and thus application is impossible. The firm isn’t restricted with any quota (the quantity of hired staff) for EP, while S Pass has such quota. If you have misunderstanding with the potential employer based on his/her prejudice against hiring overseas workers, you can rely on our consultants in building this trust.
Like many other kinds of visas, EP has its specific requirements you must meet in order to be considered. Such as: a contract with Singaporean employer for acceptable salary (3,300 SGD is the lowest bar), education (you must be a holder of a degree or a diploma from respectable university), skills in demand and experience (the more rare and asked-for skills you show, the more chances you have), nationality and age. We recommend testing you eligibility with our Free Assessment service at the very start. Our consultants will scan your profile in minutes and you will know your chances for success and get competent recommendations on what you have to tweak in your profile.
If you own a company in Singapore, you can relocate your work to the country under EP. Since your company is older than 1 year, EP is the only possible option for you now. However, in order to be granted an approval, the company must prove its business activities to show enough revenues. As every case varies and may require different documentation, it’s important to ask a specialised visa agent for help.
Yes, of course. Once you have secured a job position in Singapore, you employer (sponsor) can start the application process for your EP. We recommend involving a professional visa team in order to make this communication between you, your sponsor and MOM better and increase your chances by providing diligent check of all required papers and tweaking your employment profile to make you a more advantageous candidacy. Engaging a professional agency also gives you a possibility to test your eligibility absolutely for free and get worthy advice for the start.
Originally, you can’t have a P2 pass without having an offer for the job because this type of EP (the same as P1 and Q1) requires a sponsor (hiring company) for application. It means that your P2 pass is tied to one particular employer, and every time you want to change the employer, you need him/her to start a new EP for you. If you lose your job, you automatically lose your EP. Before you tender your resignation with your current company, it is also important to strategize obtaining visa approval for another job. Otherwise, if you have no job in Singapore, you have no right to stay in the country.
Yes, but the process of incorporation has its peculiarities for foreigners. According to the incorporation law, the company established in Singapore must have a director who is Singaporean resident (native Singaporean or holder of PR). This director temporarily represents your firm in Singapore. You (the real owner) can apply for EP right after the incorporation. Once you got your employment visa, you can move to SG and replace your temporary director.
Basically, these two passes are different schemes designed for different categories of workers. EP is for professionals and directors with minimum salary of 3,300 SGD, and S Pass is for medium skilled employees whose salary starts from 2,200 SGD. Transferring from EP to S Pass means you lose you qualification and experience. Are you sure you need to go this way?
Yes, they are. EP application can be submitted either by employer or by other empowered third party (which can be an employment agency / Visa Agency). Your designation weighs heavily as a powerful factor. There must be an employer who sponsors your application, and most generic employment agencies do not have the expertise when it comes to obtaining approval for Singapore work visas. If you haven’t been offered a job in Singapore by any company yet, you can’t start the application process. Nevertheless, if you possess compelling expertise and prominent working background with high salary (no less then 12,000 SGD), you can try to apply for an Independent work visa that doesn’t tie you to any particular employer and allows you to start looking for a job after arrival to the country. Try our Free Assessment to see if you meet the requirements.
Yes, every foreign individual who pursues EP in Singapore is being scanned by authorities for “reliability.” Background checks are made for the state security purpose as Singapore boasts its reputation of “low-crime” country. The Ministry of Manpower may require necessary certificates from your own government. If you have doubts your background would mess your application up, you’d better seek for advice of competent visa agent. The agency you decide to go with is responsible for background studies and can estimate your chances for approval.
Yes, if you’d like to work in Singapore, you can apply for any work pass suitable for you (Employment pass, S Pass, or Work Permit). Your personal qualifications are crucial here: education, salary, professionalism, and working background. Undergo our Free Assessment to see if you are eligible for a work visa.
As two sides (an employer and an employee) are evaluated by EP approving authorities (MOM), both sides need to submit documents that prove their qualification. The foreign worker must provide his/her educational papers, copy of his/her passport’s particulars page, curriculum vitae and competently compiled application form for Employment Pass (please contact professional visa team for doing all paperwork according to the latest MOM rules). The employer must provide papers that authorize the work: company latest business profile (ACRA) and work authorization form. If the company wasn’t registered by ACRA, the registration docs must be provided by any other empowered authorities.
The valid period of your EP is established by MOM individually, but basically it is 1 to 2 years. Then if you’d like to stay in the country and continue working for you employer, you need to renew your E Pass. 6 months before the expiry date, you will be notified by authorities about the necessary renewal. The employer or other empowered third party can start renewal process any time during this 6-month period. The procedure commonly takes up to 7 days. If successful, renewal gives an employee 3 more years of work in Singapore. Please note that your EP can’t be renewed automatically or guaranteed. MOM evaluates every case and estimates every candidacy’s eligibility. Due to the potential risk of missing your chance, it is wiser to pass your renewal matters to responsible visa agency that will competently assess your eligibility, detect possible dangers and work on eliminating them in advance.
EP application process is tricky due to very exacting requirements established by MOM. A lot of talents get rejected every year because they fail to satisfy strict government’s demands. But there is no need to play in this game staking everything and let MOM’s verdict ruin your plans and career. You can know your eligibility beforehand. Visa agencies that work side by side with MOM for years and know all the angles of EP procedure can estimate your chances on the start. Try out our free assessment service and learn your perspective in a couple of minutes. Experience a respectable agency has allows it not only to see weak and strong points of your employment profile, but also give valuable advice how to increase your chances for triumph.
Fingerprint registration is a part of regular biometric identification (along with photo) needed for initial EP (or DP) application. If you don’t have new biometric data to be provided for your EP or DP renewal, applications can be made online.
MOM is interested in the company’s paid up capital because it’s a weighty proof of the firm’s ability to pay acceptable salaries. Especially it is crucial for new companies (younger than 3 years) or startups that don’t possess business track record.
EP processing usually takes up to 7 working days in case of online application. If you submitted your application manually, the result will be known in 5 weeks. If you need to save time and you are not sure you would handle all that digital stuff, please contact visa consultants for help. Visa agency can be very helpful also in case MOM needs some extra documents in the process. The agency would react immediately and provide acceptable papers in time.
Sole proprietorship is a type of company that has only one owner. If the company owner is Singaporean and he would like to draw foreign professionals to his firm, he can apply for EP for them. Another situation is when the sole proprietorship’s owner isn’t Singaporean and needs EP himself. To relocate to Singapore in order to place oneself at the head of the firm and replace the local manager, the owner needs to obtain an EP (or EntrePass if his company is younger than 6 months). However, it can be challenging to obtain an EP under sole proprietorship as it is usually more difficult to prove your business activities for a new setup, and the approving authority does not like one-man show companies that do not contribute to local employment.
Yes, you can. Unless your EP is “Personalised,” you can setup a company in Singapore if you meet several requirements concerning age (18+), financial stability (undischarged bankrupts won’t succeed) and so on. If you are an EP holder, you must notify the MOM before starting any business in Singapore.
After you receive a letter with rejection, you are given 3 months for appeal. There is no need to rush things. You actually don’t have numerous chances to appeal, so you must use this one and succeed; otherwise, your case will be in danger. The government attaches an advisory in the letter. This advisory is very important, as it contains the reasons (issues) why you got rejected. You should carefully consider them and make everything possible to fix these weak points before the appeal. MOM warns that if you don’t provide new information concerning your weak points at the appeal, nothing will change in your outcome. If you have questions and doubts that you understand everything right, it’s better to take a piece of advice from professional visa agents.
No. Once your current EP was initiated by your current employer and he acts as your sponsor, you must have a new EP every time you change the employment in Singapore. You aren’t allowed to work for two employers simultaneously. If you want to change the employer, your current employer must stop your employment and cancel your current EP at the MOM; then your new employer applies for a new EP for you. In case your independency and flexibility are crucial for you, you should consider applying for Personalised Employment Pass which is self-sponsored and gives you more freedom in changing employment without processing a new work pass each time.
Yes, you can. However, you are subject to more stringent eligibility criteria of EP. Don’t risk missing your chance of upgrading. Make sure you pass our Free Visa Eligibility assessment to see how you meet requirements.
Knowledge of your eligibility equips you for successful visa battle. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact our experts and benefit from really competent answers. We understand that these questions hardly embrace the variety of issues you may face; that’s why we encourage you to bring your situation to us. We will show you the way out of your visa issue.
If you have other questions that aren’t covered in this FAQ, please don’t hesitate to book a free online consultation.