Singapore Employment Pass Guide - Eligibility & Application Procedures

 

It's hard to get your Singapore Employment Pass (EP) sorted, isn't it? All that red tape and bureaucracy....

We feel your pain.

Applying for a Singapore Employment Pass can be difficult, stressful and time-consuming. There are a lot of complex documents and government requirements you need to meet.

Don't worry, Piloto Asia is here to help!

In this comprehensive guide, we will guide you through every step of the Employment Pass application process, from understanding the eligibility, how to qualify for an EP, gathering the required documents, submitting your EP application and appealing for EP rejection (of course we don't want this to happen but just in case....).

What is an Employment Pass (EP)

The Employment Pass is a work permit for foreign professionals who wish to work in Singapore. In order to qualify for an EP, you need to meet certain criteria, e.g. qualifications and minimum monthly salary.

An Employment Pass is a work visa that allows foreign professionals to work in Singapore.

To be eligible for an EP, you must have a job offer from a Singapore-based company and meet the minimum salary requirements. If you are successful in your application, you will be granted a work pass by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that is valid for up to two years. The EP can be renewed for up to 3 years.

Employment Pass holders may also be eligible to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence (SPR).


Who can apply for Singapore Employment Pass?

It's not the foreign employee who applies for the Employment Pass; it's the employer or appointed employment agent who does so on behalf of the applicant.

If you are an overseas employer with no registered office in Singapore, you must have a local sponsor submit the Employment Pass application on your behalf.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Singapore Employment Pass?

For a foreign employee applying for the Employment Pass, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires the foreign nationals to pass the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a job offer from a Singapore-registered company.

  • The job offer should be a role that is either a specialist, a manager, or an executive.

  • You need to be sponsored by a Singapore-registered company to get an employment pass.

  • New EP applicants from the non-financial services sector must receive a monthly qualifying salary of at least S$4,500*.

    • Note that this salary requirement will increase with age. Older candidates with more experience are expected to have higher minimum qualifying wages, up to S$8,400 for candidates in their mid-40s.

  • New EP applicants from the financial services sector must receive a minimum fixed monthly salary of at least S$5,000*.

    • Note that this salary requirement will increase with age. Older candidates with more experience are expected to have higher salaries, up to S$9,300 for candidates in their mid-40s.

  • Foreign professionals applying for an employment pass must have acceptable qualifications from approved institutions - this can either be a good university degree, specialized skills, or professional qualifications.

If you want to know whether you are eligible for the EP, MOM has created a Self Assessment Tool. This tool can be used as a general guideline, but there can be exceptions or additional document requirements for senior-level management and specialized skills jobs.

Latest Update on Singapore Employment Pass Minimum Salary

  • Starting from September 1st, 2022, the minimum qualifying salary for new EP applicants in non-financial sectors will increase from S$4,500 to S$5,000.

    • This salary requirement will increase with age. For older applicants in their mid-40s, the minimum qualifying salary will increase from S$8,400 to S$10,500.

  • For financial services, the minimum qualifying salary for new EP applicants will be raised from S$5,000 to S$5,500.

    • The minimum salary for older applicants in the mid-40s will be raised from S$9,300 to S$11,500.

  • The same adjustments will be applied to renewal applications from 1st September 2023.

Introduction to a New Point-Based System as Part of the Employment Pass Eligibility Criteria

Starting in September 2023, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower will be using a new point-based system to evaluate if Employment Pass applicants are qualified. This system is called the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).

  • This means that EP applicants must meet not only qualifying salary requirements but also score enough points on the point-based system in order to be eligible for an EP.

  • There are several criteria in the point-based system, e.g.

    • Salary

    • Educational qualifications

    • Diversity

    • Support for local employment

    • Skills bonus (i.e. whether your role is on the shortage occupation list), and

    • Strategic economic priorities bonus (i.e. the Singapore Government is looking for partners to work with on ambitious innovation or internationalisation activities).

Note for Employers Sponsoring Your Foreign Workers for EP

When you want to hire a foreign worker, your Singapore company will be evaluated by MOM. There are a few things your company needs to do before you can employ a non-Singaporean employee. MOM needs to verify:

  • The percentage of local employees in the company as compared to the industry average.

  • Is the company committed to hiring and improving Singaporean talent?

  • Company's contribution to Singapore's society and economy.

9 Easy Steps of the Employment Pass Application Process

Here is the summary of the process of applying for an Employment Pass in Singapore. Most of the action items are related to employers or employment agents, while some are related to candidates. We will make a note next to each item for your easy reference.

We will also explain each item in more detail later in this article.

EP Application Procedures

Photo Credit: MOM

A) Before applying for Employment Pass

  • Step 1: Make sure to consider all candidates - both local and foreigners - fairly before you apply for an Employment Pass. The Fair Consideration Framework states that Singapore companies must advertise the role on MyCareersFuture for at least 28 days before the EP application for the foreign employee. This allows locals to have a fair chance at getting the job. (For employer/EA)

  • Step 2: Understand the Singapore Employment Pass eligibility stated above (For employer/EA & candidate)

  • Step 3: Know what documents are required for the Employment Pass application (For employer/EA & candidate)

B) Before the Candidate Arrives in Singapore

  • Step 4: Submit the Employment Pass Application using myMOM Portal once you have decided on a candidate (For employer/EA). Remember, you need to get written permission from the candidate before applying for the EP on his behalf (For employer/EA & candidate).

    • Note that if you are an overseas company without a local presence, you cannot apply for EP via myMOM Portal. Instead, you will need to download the EP Sponsorship Form and submit the filled Employment Pass form here.

  • Step 5: Wait for the In-principle approval or rejection letter by MOM. The Employment Pass application will be processed by MOM within 3 weeks.

    • If the application is successful, you will receive an in-principle approval letter. This letter is valid for six months.

    • If the application is unsuccessful, you will receive a rejection letter.

C) Bring the candidate into Singapore (if successful EP application)

  • Step 6: If the EP application is successful, the next step is for the employer to bring the candidate into Singapore within 6 months of in-principle approval.

  • Step 7: The employer will need to get the Employment Pass issued and register the candidate's fingerprints and photo (if required) (For employer/EA & candidate).

  • Step 8: Receive the pass card from MOM The last step is for the employer to receive the pass card from MOM. The pass card will be valid for two years. (For candidate).

  • Step 9: After that, the employer can apply for a renewal of the Employment Pass (For Employer/EA).

What documents are required to be submitted when applying for an Employment Pass (EP)?

The following documents must be submitted to the Ministry of Manpower to apply for EP.

  1. Copy of the candidate's updated resume.

  2. Copies of the candidate's educational certificates.

  3. Testimonials or references from candidate's previous employers.

  4. Candidate’s passport size photograph that was taken in the past 3 months.

  5. Copy of passport pages with the personal details of the candidate.

  6. Copy of the company's current ACRA business profile, or the details registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

  7. Copy of detailed description of the candidate's job profile.

  8. Copy of detailed description of products and or activities performed by the employing Singapore Company.

Additional documents for Indian candidates

In addition to the documents mentioned above, the candidates from India need to submit transcripts for all semesters stating the college attended.

Additional documents for Chinese candidates

Apart from the documents mentioned above, the candidates from China need to submit a diploma in English that comes from the following sources:

  • Academic Degrees, and Graduate Education Information, China

  • Career Centre and Higher Education Student Information, China 

  • Dataflow Group: It is a third-party service that helps in background verification for the EP candidate's educational qualifications.


Questions about applying for an Employment Pass?

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What is the Singapore Employment Pass Processing Time?

If you are sponsored by a Singapore-registered company, it can take up to 3 weeks for MOM approval. However, if your employer is an overseas company without an office in Singapore, then be prepared for a much longer processing time - up to 8 weeks!

Sometimes, they may also request more supporting documents in order to fully consider whether or not you are eligible. That means it will take longer than the time mentioned before they make a final decision.

How to Check Employment Pass Status?

To check the status of your EP application or EP itself,

  1. Go to MOM eServices - Check work pass and application status.

  2. Enter in some basic personal information like date of birth and passport number/FIN.

  3. You will then be able to see the updates on applications you have made within the last 6 months.

  4. You can also check the expiry date of your work pass from there.

Why is your Employment Pass application rejected?

There are several common reasons why an EP application might be rejected by MOM.

  • Trying to apply for a position that does not qualify as a managerial, executive or specialised job.

  • The monthly salary is below S$4,500 - this is the current minimum amount stipulated by MOM as of Jun 2022.

  • The candidate applies for the EP instead of the employer or employment agent.

  • The candidate doesn't have the necessary qualifications that are required for the job you're applying to.

  • Your employer has not been able to provide evidence of a genuine need to hire a foreign worker for the position.

  • There are already enough suitably qualified local Singaporeans who can do the job you are applying for.

  • The hiring process is not deemed fair under the Fair Consideration Framework.

  • Your employer has a history of discriminatory HR practices.

  • Your employer's business operations and financials are not in good standing.

  • There are discrepancies in the information provided by the applicant.

  • Your employer has a bad reputation with MOM.

How do I appeal an Employment Pass rejection?

The employing company or the employment agent, whoever applied for the EP earlier, can appeal the rejection within 3 months. The Ministry of Manpower does not entertain appeals from the candidates directly.

When appealing to the rejection, it is essential to address the issues mentioned in the rejection letter; otherwise, the result will not change. So don't rush and take your time to put together a well-thought-out appeal.

It will take about 6 weeks for MOM to process your appeal.

Can the Employee Pass holders bring their family members to Singapore?

Can you bring your family to Singapore on an Employment Pass? Yes you can by applying DP and LTVP for them.

An Employee Pass holder earning a fixed monthly salary of S$6000 at least, can bring their family to stay in Singapore. For this, their employing company is required to submit a separate application for each family member.

There are two types of passes available to family members.

  • Dependent's Pass

  • Long Term Visit Pass

Dependent Pass vs Long Term Visit Pass

A Dependent Pass (DP) can be granted to the following family members of the Employment Pass holders

  • Legally married spouses

  • Unmarried children under the 21 years

The validity of DP is the same as that of the EP.

Following family members can also apply for a Long Term Visit Pass:

  • A Common-law spouse

  • Handicapped unmarried children above the age of 21 years

  • Unmarried step-children under the age of 21 years

  • Parent of the Employee pass holders meeting the minimum monthly salary requirement of S$12,000

Can I change my job while I am holding an Employee Pass?

Employees can change their job while holding an EP. The new employer will need to apply for a new Employment Pass. 

The new application will be viewed based on the merits and other conditions.

Can I renew my Employment Pass?

Your employer will receive the renewal form at the registered office address, usually 3 months before the expiration date. Or the employer can apply for the renewal online, 6 months before the expiration date. The foreign employment policies change consistently, so it is better to seek professional advice when applying for the renewal of the Employment Pass.

How can I cancel the Employment Pass?

The Employment Pass needs to be cancelled if the employee leaves the job; the cancelled pass card also needs to be returned. All the Long Term Visit Passes, Dependent passes, and the Letter of consent will also be cancelled after cancelling the EP.

When to cancel EP

  • If the employee decides to leave the job, the Employment Pass needs to be cancelled within one week of the notice period's last day.

  • A day after the Employment Pass expiration date.

  • If the EP holder chooses to leave Singapore permanently, the EP can be cancelled within one week of the departure date.

Who can cancel EP?

  • Designated Employment Agent

  • Employing Company

How long does it take to cancel EP?

EP Cancellation is immediate.

Before cancelling the EP, the employer needs to follow formalities like clearing the pending salaries, seeking the tax clearance documents, and resolving all the disputes between employee and employer. The employer also needs to ensure that the employee has a return ticket to their home country unless the employee is ready to bear the expenses.We hope this article helped you to get a general overview of the Employment Pass in Singapore; a few conditions may vary based on the Ministry of Manpower's criteria.

We can support your EP application

Drop us an email. Our immigration specialist can help with the EP application for you and your company staff.

FAQ about Singapore Employment Pass

Is it difficult to get EP in Singapore?

This depends on various factors such as your qualifications, salary, work experience, the type of job you are applying for, etc. You can check your eligibility using MOM's Self Assessment Tool. If the tool indicates that you are eligible for an EP, there is a fairly high chance that you will be successful in your application.

Alternatively, you can get help from a professional firm like Piloto Asia. We have successfully helped many foreign entrepreneurs contain their Employment Pass and we can do the same for you! Our EP specialist will assess your case and advise you on the necessary steps to take in order to increase your chances of success.

Contact us today for more information!

What is the Singapore Employment Pass rejection rate?

We don’t have an official rejection rate from MOM, but we do track our EP application data and success stories.

Piloto Asia is one of Singapore's most reliable companies when it comes to EP applications. Our success rate is 97%, which means that only 3% were rejected., We're one of the best in town!

What is the Singapore Employment Pass Processing Time?

Normally, it takes up to 3 weeks if you are sponsored by a local Singapore company or 8 weeks if you are sponsored by an overseas company without a local presence.

How do I check my EP application?

To check the status of your work pass application, follow these steps:

First, go on MOM Check Work Pass and Application Status website and enter the DOB and passport number as required. You will then be able to see if there have been any changes with regard to applications made within the last six months.

How long does Singapore EP application take?

You can check the status of your application online. The process takes around 8 weeks, but it may take longer depending on the circumstances, or MOM asks you to provide more documents or information for verification purposes.

Is employment pass a Work Permit?

Yes, EP is the main type of work permit for company owners and skilled employees who will be working in Singapore. In order to qualify, your fixed monthly salary has to exceed S$4,500 per month - and no quotas are set up!

How do I cancel my Singapore employment pass?

To cancel your employment pass, you must submit the cancellation request up until 14 days before the due date. In case of becoming a permanent resident in Singapore though there's no requirement for you to do so.

How long does it take to cancel employment pass in Singapore?

Within 3 working days.

What happens when EP expires?

You don't need to cancel it if the EP is expired.

What should I do if my employment pass is about to expire? 

You can renew an Employment Pass up until six months before the expiry date. You must apply beforehand to avoid any gaps in coverage, and check when you would be eligible for another one!

What happens if your employment pass expires? 

You should apply for a new one before the old one expires. If you don’t, you will have to apply for a new one. You don't need to cancel the old passes after it has run out!

What is the difference between Singapore EP and S Pass?

The Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore is a work pass that allows foreign professionals who meet certain criteria to work in the country. The S Pass is a mid-level skilled work pass for semi-skilled and skilled workers in certain sectors. There are differences in the eligibility requirements, salary thresholds, and quotas for each pass.

Further Reading...