Having international work experience is not only great for your portfolio, chances are it will open doors for you years down the road. Based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Singapore comes in at number 1 worldwide for the ethical behavior of companies as well as hiring and firing practices. In addition, Singapore Salary & Employment Insights Report by recruitment firm Hudson said that about 53% of the employers surveyed aim to peg salary increases at 3 – 5% for the coming year. If this sounds good to you, you would want to make your way to Singapore. However, in order to legally work here, you must have a valid work visa in Singapore. Other than the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP), all work visas are tied to the employer. Hence, any change in your employment will require a change in work visa. Your visa options depends on your profile and experience. In this article, we summarize the 3 most common ways for professionals to work in Singapore.
Work Visa in Singapore for Professionals, Managers or Executives (PME)
Get employed first. Your work visa application can only be made by your employer and on your behalf. Depending on your experience and qualifications, you may be granted the Employment Pass (EP) or S Pass. To qualify for the EP, you must earn at least a fixed monthly salary of $4,500 (from 1 September 2020) or $5,000 in the financial sector (from 1 December 2020) and have sound qualifications (good degree, specialist skills or professional qualifications). If you’ve accumulated more experience, the authorities expect you to command a higher salary which reflects the quality and expertise you’re bringing to the firm. To qualify for the S Pass, you need to command a salary of at least $2,500 per month (from 1 October 2020) and demonstrate good educational qualifications. Read more: Guide on How to Get a Working Visa in Singapore »
If you’re a subject-matter expert or gold-collar professional
You would fare well by applying for the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP). The PEP is independent of any employer and allows you to pursue opportunities in Singapore without affecting the validity of the Pass. Once you hold a PEP, you may stay in Singapore for up to 6 months, in between jobs, to pursue a new employment opportunity. The catch is that the PEP is valid for only 3 years and is non-renewable. To apply, you either have to be an existing EP holder or an overseas-based applicant who hasn’t been unemployed for more than 6 months at the time of application. In addition, you must earn a fixed salary of S$144,000 per annum – this means at least S$12,000 for Singapore-based applicants and S$18,000 for those from overseas.
If you’re a dependent of a Singapore work visa holder
If you have relocated to Singapore with your spouse or parents i.e. EP or PEP holders, you are most likely holding a Dependant’s Pass (DP). As a DP Holder, you are allowed to work in Singapore without a work visa. Instead, your employer must apply for a LOC (Letter of Consent) in order for you to work legally. The upside is that there is no fee for LOC application. However, if you have relocated to Singapore via the Long-term Visit Pass (LTVP), your employer will have to apply for a work visa for you.
|Employment Pass||You are a professional, managerial personnel, executive or specialist. You have an employment offer from a Singapore employer. You are an entrepreneur or managing director of a Singapore company and wish to relocate to mange your company operations.||
|Entrepreneur Pass||You are a technopreneur/founder of an R&D-intensive enterprise, and are ready to open and run a new private limited company.||
|Personalised Employment Pass||You are a subject matter expert or gold collar professional||
|Dependant’s Pass||You have relocated with your spouse or parent and want to work in Singapore.||
- Yes, you need to obtain a work permit through your employer in order to start working in Singapore. Most work visas are tied to employers except for the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
- An Employment Pass or S Pass is suitable for workers in managerial or executive positions. In order to obtain these visas, you will need to be employed by the company first and the company will then proceed to apply for a suitable work visa for you.
- To qualify for the EP, you must earn at least a fixed monthly salary of $4,500 or $5,000 in the financial sector (from 1 Dec 2020) and have sound qualifications (good degree, specialist skills, or professional qualifications). If you’ve accumulated more experience, the authorities expect you to command a higher salary which reflects the quality and expertise you’re bringing to the firm. To qualify for the S Pass, you need to command a salary of at least $2,500 per month (from 1 October 2020) and demonstrate good educational qualifications.
- Yes, there is. While both are commonly referred to as work permits, an Employment Pass is mostly suitable for professional foreigners who are in managerial or executive positions while a Singapore work permit is more suitable for foreigners hired to work mainly in the marine, construction, and manufacturing fields.
Before beginning work in Singapore, all foreigners must have a valid pass (also known as a work visa).
For skilled and semi-skilled workers:
- S Pass
- Work Permit for foreign worker
- Work Permit for foreign domestic worker (FDW)
- Work Permit for confinement nanny
- Work Permit for performing artiste
For trainees and students:
- Training Employment Pass
- Work Holiday Pass (under Work Holiday Programme)
- Work Holiday Pass (under Work and Holiday Visa Programme)
- Training Work Permit
For family members:
- Dependant’s Pass
- Long Term Visit Pass
- Pre-approved Letter of Consent
- Letter of Consent for ICA-issued LTVP/LTVP+ holders
- Letter of Consent for Dependant’s Pass holders who are business owners
Exemptions and working while on a visit pass:
- Miscellaneous Work Pass
- Work Pass Exempt Activities
- Work pass exemption for foreign students
- Work passes for holders of Long Term Visit Passes issued by ICA
Work Permits are typically for
- Semi-skilled foreign employees in construction, manufacturing, marine shipyards, process industries, or services sector; or
- Foreign domestic workers; or
- Malaysian confinement nannies; or
- Foreign entertainers operating in public places such as bars, hotels, and nightclubs
To be eligible for a work permit in Singapore, the applicant
- Must have a valid passport
- Must be a minimum of 18 years of age
- Is only permitted to work within the scope of work specified by the authorities.
To apply for a work permit in Singapore, either the employer or the appointed employment agent (EA) has to apply on behalf of the applicant.
To apply, follow these steps:
- Obtain written permission from the foreign worker before applying for a Work Permit.
- Fill out the application by logging in to WP Online.
- Applications are typically processed in about a week. After one week, you check the progress of your application. However, if more information is necessary, the process may take longer.
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Mel specializes in Employment Pass and Work Pass applications through the Ministry of Manpower. She also handles Long-Term Visit Pass applications through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.