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From The Experts: 3 Mistakes Businesses Make In Their Employment Pass (EP) Applications

6 minute read


In recent years, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has reduced the quota of Employment Passes (EP) issued to foreigners. Want to understand why the EP was rejected? Here are some possibilities.


#1 Employers need to fairly consider Singapore locals for their job opening

Due to the efforts to protect the local labour force by the Singapore Government, the Ministry has been progressively tightening the criteria for EP applications over the years.

New rules on hiring foreigners were added in 2014 to encourage companies to genuinely consider locals before hiring foreigners. This Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) requires employers to advertise a vacant role for at least 14 calendar days on the national jobs bank before the EP application can be filed. There are certain exemptions to this rule, for smaller companies, and even if exempted, the MOM encourages employers to nonetheless advertise as it gives them access to a bigger pool of Singaporean candidates.

If the MOM suspects that a company has unfair hiring practices, they may curtail their work pass privileges and may even place it on a blacklist until improvements are seen.

#2 There may have been issues with the company background provided

Based on the remarks provided, you may be able to determine the reasons for rejection. For example, your company’s business activities may be considered irrelevant to Singapore’s economy, your company may have a weak Singaporean core, or your company may belong to an industry that is irrelevant to Singapore.

The MOM may therefore request for detailed information relating to the company’s business activities, manpower projection and an explanation as to why the candidate was chosen (special skills that cannot be found locally).

#3 Issues with the candidate not matching the job profile

An EP may also be rejected because the proposed salary, candidate’s educational qualification, or relevant work experience does not commensurate with the job position that is being applied for. Changing industries or job roles may be difficult for a foreigner unless they can demonstrate a transferrable skillset.  Additionally, although the base minimum salary for an EP is S$4,500/month, our experience shows that candidates often will need a higher monthly salary in order for their application to be approved.

So what happens after a rejection?

Once you have determined the reasons for rejection and are able to address them, you can submit an appeal. You will need to submit the appeal within 3 months of getting the rejection, and can appeal up to 2 times. If you fail to appeal within the specified time, you will need to submit a brand new application.

How can you ensure that your EP is accepted

Use experts

Immigration experts and visa consultants are extremely useful at this stage, as they can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience of MOM’s policies and system. You may even need to do your own research on the industry of the business, to determine whether the business or role is bringing value to Singapore’s economy.

Have a strong justification letter:

You will also need to submit a strong justification letter to explain why the company requires you to fill a crucial role and what special skills set you have. Usually, your company’s HR department can draft this letter for you.

Ensure you have an updated LinkedIn Profile/CV/Cover Letter

Submitting a well written and up to date CV or Cover Letter will help strengthen your visa application. You should also submit all of your relevant educational certifications and qualifications (including grade/mark sheets, if applicable), to avoid any delays in your application.

Next steps

If you’re ready to take your business from dream to reality, we can help you make it happen. Get tailored, practical advice from us about your situation – get in touch with us today.


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