There are three kinds of work permits for Singapore that expats are most likely to apply for. To qualify for any of these permits, expats will first need to secure a job offer in Singapore.
The Employment Pass (EP) 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.
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 who are recent graduates of well-respected international universities will have 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 made by the employer or an employment agent on their behalf before they arrive in Singapore.
An EP is valid for 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 Dependant’s Pass for their (legally married) spouse and children younger than 21 years old. Separate applications must be made for each family member.
As is the case with an EP, S Pass candidates in Singapore would need a job offer that pays above a set amount a month but reflects their experience level – 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.
Employers in Singapore have 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 different sets of requirements. Being granted this kind of work permit 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.
- 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 permit regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
What do expats say about work permits for Singapore?
"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.
Are you an expat living in Singapore?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Singapore. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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