Singapore Employment Pass: Explained
10 minute read
The Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a type of renewable work visa. It is for foreign professionals, managers, executives, and other professionals to live and work in Singapore.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to obtain an Employment Pass (EP) once they have incorporated a company in Singapore. This opens the door for them to move to the country and manage business operations here.
Interested to find out more about how you can apply for an Employment Pass, whether as a working professional, foreign entrepreneur or Singapore-incorporated business owner?
This article will guide you through the process of applying for an Employment Pass, explain how you can become an EP holder, and what to expect during the application process.
Let’s dive into it.
- Key facts of the Employment pass
- Documents needed for application
- Application overview, process and timeline
- How to apply for an employment pass
- How to check the status of my employment pass?
- How to check the validity of my employment pass?
- What happens if my EP application is rejected?
- How do I renew my employment pass?
- Can employment pass holders incorporate a business in Singapore?
- Can employment pass holders be a shareholder or director in Singapore?
- Wrap Up
Key facts about the Employment Pass
The Singapore Employment Pass is valid for up to 2 years, and can be renewed for up to 3 years. This work permit is one of the most widely held permits by foreign working professionals in Singapore.
Unlike other work permits like the S Pass, which has a quota by sector, there is no limit on the number of employment passes being issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM). This makes EP applications a relatively swift and easier process. It usually takes around 3 weeks to process employment pass applications, once all documents have been submitted.
Even with clear guidelines on the eligibility criteria listed by MOM online, the process to apply and receive an Employment Pass is often nuanced, as each application is reviewed and assessed based on certain merits and on an individual basis.
Requirements of the pass
- Applicants must have a job offer by a Singapore-registered company
- Applicants must work in a managerial, executive or specialised skills
- Applicants should hold appropriate academic qualifications
- Fixed monthly salary comparable to top one-third of PMET by age
- Minimum salary requirements:
|Sector||Applicants in the non-financial services sector||Applicants in the financial services sector|
|Minimum fixed salary / month||At least S$5,000||At least S$5,500|
|Other criteria||– Increases progressively with age|
– Up to S$10,500 for applicants in their mid-40s
|– Increases progressively with age|
– Up to S$11,500 for applicants in their mid-40s
Documents needed for the application
Here are the documents that you need to prepare for your employment pass application:
|EP application form||Completed and signed EP application form|
|Passport||A valid passport with at least six months validity from the date of entry into Singapore|
|Recent passport-sized photograph||A passport-sized photograph taken within the past three months|
Copies of educational certificates and transcripts
Verification proof from a background screening company
|Employment testimonials or reference letters||Letters of reference from current or previous employers, if available|
Along with these it is also required to have the following documents as well:
- Your resume along with relevant educational certificate
- Company’s latest business profile or ACRA registered instant information
- Testimonials and/or references from your previous employers
- Detailed description of your employing company’s products and/or activities
- Your passport’s personal particulars page*
- Detailed description of your job duties and responsibilities
With the implementation of the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), all post-secondary diploma and above qualifications declared will have to be supported with a verification proof. This requirement will apply to new EP applications from 1 September 2023, and renewals from 1 September 2024.
*If your name on passport differs from other documents, to upload an explanation letter and supporting documents
NOTE: Do keep in mind that all documents you submit when applying for your Employment Pass need to be in English, or translated into English by a translation agency.
Not sure about the visa application process?
EP Application overview, process and timeline
Determine your eligibility and necessary qualifications
Unsure if you are eligible for this pass? You can use this tool to check if you qualify.
If you have used the self-assessment tool and passed it, the likelihood of getting approval for an Employment Pass is very high.
NOTE: Do note that it does not fully guarantee that your employment pass application will be approved, as there are other checks such as your employer’s company profile and your history that are not included in this self-serve tool.
These other factors may also determine the outcome of an EP:
- Your nationality has an impact on your chances
- The type of position – employment that requires higher qualification or experience will fare better. A position in a niche role or industry helps too.
- The more established your company is, the better. Factors include your company’s past revenue and paid-up capital.
- Your salary – your minimum salary should be commensurate with your skills and talent
- Your score in Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)
Application of Employment Pass
Once you have all the relevant documents, your employer or a visa agent, like Sleek, will help to submit your Employment Pass application to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). This can be done online or manually.
We highly recommend applying online, as this process takes a faster application time (3 weeks or longer), unless your case requires us to submit the application manually.
For entrepreneurs, do note that you would have to incorporate your company before applying for your Employment Pass. Sleek can help you to handle all your company incorporations and EP applications at the same time, easily, without any physical meetings.
Approval of Employment Pass
Once your pass is approved, you will get an in-principle approval (IPA) which provides you with a one-time entry visa to enter Singapore. After you have been issued the EP, you will also get a notification letter that allows you to work and travel in or out of Singapore while waiting for your physical Employment Pass card to be delivered.
Your notification letter will also prompt you to register your fingerprints and have your photographs taken at MOM. Simply make an appointment online. You are required to bring along your documents such as your passport, appointment letter, employment letter, and any additional relevant documents.
Once all the paperwork is completed, your Employment Pass card will be delivered to your doorstep in about five business days.
“Do you know? There are 1,68,800 employment pass holders in Singapore as of June 2022 – Source MOM”
How to apply for an employment pass
|Situation||Steps to Follow|
|Employer applying for Employment Pass for employee|
1. Obtain written consent from employee
2. Complete EP application form online on MyMOM Portal
3. Gather and upload all required documents
4. Pay the application fee to MOM
5. Check the status of the application on Employment Pass Online (EPOL)
6. A hard copy of in-principle approval letter (IPA) and provide the employee with a copy
|Foreign entrepreneur applying for Employment Pass for self||Engage a visa agent like Sleek to submit EP application on your behalf|
|Employee waiting for Employment Pass application|
1. Provide necessary documents like educational certificates and passport scans to the employer
2. Employer submits EP application to MOM
3. Check the status of your application on Employment Pass Online (EPOL)
Employment Pass (EP) status check
After submitting your application, you can expect an updated status of the application from the Ministry of Manpower within 3 weeks. MOM generally will give a status or update within 10 business days of submission.
However, if you haven’t received your Employment Pass (EP) application outcome or simply want to check the status, you can check the application status online via the MOM EP status check portal.
How to check the validity of my employment pass?
You can check the validity of your employment pass by following one of these two methods:
- SG Work Pass app
Scan the QR code that’s on your work pass card by using the SGWorkPass app.
- MOM EP status check portal
Visit “Check work pass and application status” on the MOM EP status check portal. Then enter your date of birth and your passport or FIN number.
What happens if my EP application is unsuccessful?
Your application can be rejected by MOM, but while rejecting, MOM will state down the reason for rejection which will help you in making an appeal.
- It’s possible for an Employment Pass application to be rejected, but you or your employer can appeal the decision within three months of the rejection date.
- Your employer can provide more information and documents to MOM to assist in reassessing the EP application.
- Visa specialists such as Sleek can also help by analyzing the reasons for the rejection and making recommendations for additional information or documents.
- If an appeal is submitted, it can take at least six weeks to process and the status can be checked online.
- For more information on common reasons for EP rejections, read our article.
When this happens, your employer can offer further information and documents to MOM to assist them in reassessing your Employment Pass application.
Renewing the employment pass
An Employment Pass is generally approved for one to two years for first-time candidates and it can also be renewed for up to three years, subsequently.
As an employer, you can renew an Employment Pass for your employees, or you can work with a visa agent to do so. The renewal application can be filed online via MyMOM Portal.
Step 1: Getting written consent from the respective employee – You will need your employee to give their written consent to renew before you can start filling out the renewal application.
Step 2: Submit the application online – Login in to the MyMOM Portal and perform the following actions:
- Complete the EP renewal application form online
- Gather and upload all of the documents required for the EP application
Step 3: EP Status Check – Check the status of your Employment Pass application via Employment Pass (EP) online (EPOL).
Step 4: Hand over the records to the employee – After your renewal application has been approved, you will need to print out your in-principle approval letter (IPA) via Employment Pass Online (EPOL) and provide the employee with a copy for their records.
Can an employment pass holder incorporate a business in Singapore?
Yes, EP holders can incorporate a business in Singapore as a Private Limited.
A private limited is a type of business structure that is separate from its owners and shareholders. It offers limited liability protection to its owners and shareholders, which means that their personal assets are protected in the event that the company is unable to pay its debts.
To incorporate a business, they would need to register the company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore. The process involves submitting an application and providing the necessary documents, such as the company’s proposed name, the details of the company’s directors and shareholders, and the company’s registered address. This resource provides more information on how to incorporate a private limited company in Singapore.
Overall, a private limited company in Singapore is a popular choice for entrepreneurs and foreign investors looking to establish a presence in the country due to its limited liability protection and the numerous benefits it offers.
Can an employment pass holder be a shareholder or director in Singapore?
EP holders can be directors and shareholders within the company sponsoring their employment pass. This means they are the owners and director that’s managing the company.
However, the company must also have a registered address in Singapore and appoint at least one director who is a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident. In addition, the company must comply with all relevant laws and regulations in Singapore, such as the Companies Act, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations.
EP holders can also be shareholders in any company in Singapore. This means that they can have an ownership interest in the company and are entitled to a share of the company’s profits and assets.
Need a hand preparing your application?
Need help with your Employment Pass renewal? we can help you make it happen.
Work passes are necessary for every foreigner who wants to work and live in Singapore. As long as you and your company sponsor meet all the relevant eligibility requirements, your employment pass application will be smooth and your Employment Pass will be issued.
We understand that the procedure behind getting an Employment Pass can be confusing and even daunting for companies, employers and employees alike.
That is why we prepared a list of FAQs that should answer some questions you might have.
The difficulty of obtaining an Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore depends on several factors such as the applicant’s qualifications, work experience, salary, and the demand for their skills in Singapore’s job market. The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) assesses each EP application on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if the applicant has a good educational background, relevant work experience, and a job offer with a competitive salary, the chances of getting an EP are higher. However, there is no guarantee of approval, and each application is evaluated based on its own merits.
No, Employment Pass (EP) holders are not allowed to work part-time in Singapore. The EP is only issued for full-time employment with a specific employer.
EP holders in Singapore can relocate with their family, but the required passes and permits depend on their relationship and intended activities.
Here’s an overview of each pass to help EP holders understand the requirements for relocating with their family to Singapore.
Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)
Common-law spouses, step-children, unmarried handicapped children, and parents
Relocating with EP & S Pass holders
Dependant Pass (DP)
Legally married spouses, biological children
Relocating with Employment Pass or S Pass holders
Letter of Consent (LOC)
Starting and operating a business in Singapore
Pre-approved Letter of Consent
Foreign spouses and children of Singapore Citizen and Singapore Permanent Resident holding an LTVP or LTVP+ from ICA
Allowed to work in Singapore
Yes, Employment Pass (EP) holders are allowed to buy a car in Singapore. However, they will need to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and pay additional taxes and fees, such as the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Yes, EP holders can start a Private Limited company in Singapore. EP holders can even be the local director of their own company. However, it is still advisable to check the specific requirements and regulations related to starting a company in Singapore as well as any potential changes in regulations.
No, Employment Pass (EP) and Work Pass are not the same thing.
The EP is a type of work visa issued to foreign professionals, managers, and executives who are employed in managerial, executive, or specialised roles.
The Work Pass, on the other hand, is a general term used to describe a range of work visas issued to foreign workers in Singapore.
Yes, Employment Pass (EP) holders in Singapore are required to make CPF (Central Provident Fund) contributions if they are Singapore citizens or Permanent Residents (PRs) and earn more than a certain amount per month.
However, EP holders who are foreign nationals are not required to make CPF contributions.
Instead, they are required to make monthly contributions to the Skills Development Levy (SDL) and the Foreign Worker Levy (FWL).
The specific requirements and rates for CPF contributions, SDL, and FWL may vary depending on the company’s size, industry, and other factors.
You are subject to income tax on their employment income, just like Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs). The tax rates for EP holders are the same as those for residents and range from 0% to 22% on a progressive scale, depending on amount of income earned.
In addition to income tax, EP holders may be subject to other taxes, such as property tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and stamp duty. The specific tax obligations and rates may vary depending on various factors such as the type of income earned, residency status, and business activities.
Employment Pass (EP) holders are allowed to stay out of Singapore for a maximum of six months without affecting their EP status.
If they need to stay out of Singapore for longer periods, they will need to obtain approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
If an EP holder loses their job, their EP will be cancelled. They have a 30-day grace period to either find a new job and have their new employer apply for a new EP, or to leave Singapore.
Yes, Employment Pass (EP) holders can apply for Permanent Residency (PR) in Singapore.
However, PR applications are assessed based on a number of factors, such as the individual’s contribution to the economy, length of stay in Singapore, and family ties in Singapore.