How to get a Singapore Employment Pass
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:
*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?
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 an approval for an Employment Pass is very high.
*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
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, and 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.
How to apply for an employment pass
I am an employer applying for an employment pass for my employees
As an employer, you would need to apply for an Employment Pass for your employees, or you can work with a visa agent to do so. The application can be filed online via MyMOM Portal.
You will need your employee to give their written consent to apply before you can start filling out the application.
Afterwards, you would need to log in to the MyMOM Portal and perform the following actions:
- Complete the EP application form online
- Gather and upload all of the documents required for the EP application
- Pay application fee to MOM
After submission of the EP application, you can check the status of your Employment Pass application via Employment Pass Online (EPOL).
After your 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.
If this is the first time you are applying for an Employment Pass, your company will first need to register a work pass account via MOM’s Work Pass Registration System. The processing time can take between three and seven days.
I am an foreign entrepreneur looking to apply for an employment pass for myself
As the owner of your own business, you would need to engage a visa agent like Sleek to submit the EP application on your behalf.
Are you a Singapore company or Foreign Entrepreneur applying for visas?
Our expert team will help to make visa applications hassle-free for you.
I am an employee that’s waiting for my employment pass application
For employees needing an Employment Pass, not to worry. Your Singapore employer or your employment agency will need to submit your EP application to MOM on your behalf.
As part of the application process, you will need to provide scanned copies of documents such as educational certificates and passport scans.
Once the EP application has been submitted to MOM by your employer, you can use this link to check the status of your application.
How to check the status of my employment pass application?
After submitting your application, you can expect an outcome on the status of the application from the Ministry of Manpower within 3 weeks. MOM generally will give an outcome 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 rejected?
Employment pass applications can sometimes be rejected. If that happens, you or your employer have up to three months (from the date of rejection) to appeal against the decision.
When this happens, your employer can offer further information and documents to MOM to assist them in reassessing your Employment Pass application.
Visa specialists (like Sleek) who have experience in the nuances of the approval process can also help at this point. A visa specialist can analyse why your previous application was rejected and make recommendations on the additional information/documents for MOM to reconsider your EP application.
If you submit an appeal, the process can take at least six weeks to process. The status of the appeal can be checked online.
Facing an EP rejection? Read our article to find out the most common reasons why.
How do I renew my 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.
You will need your employee to give their written consent to renew before you can start filling out the renewal application.
Afterwards, you would need to log 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
After submission of the EP renewal application, you can check the status of your Employment Pass application via Employment Pass (EP) online (EPOL).
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.
How difficult is it to obtain an Employment Pass in Singapore?
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.
Why is my Employment Pass rejected in Singapore?
The Ministry of Manpower has the right to reject an Employment Pass application or an Employment Pass renewal for one of the following reasons:
The scope of the job you’re performing and your qualifications don’t match
The Singapore government is very strict and for every Singapore work visa issued by MOM, all of the information is checked rigorously. So when you’re sending an application, make sure that your experience and educational profile align with your job’s scope and requirements.
Not enough information
As you noticed, there is a lot of information you need to provide when you want to get a work pass. When applying, if you didn’t provide sufficient information that is required to validate the Employment Pass application, you most likely won’t become an employment pass holder.
The market is already oversaturated
One important thing that we need to mention is that a Singapore company will always prioritize both local and more experienced workers, even if it’s a newly incorporated company. And if there aren’t any requirements for foreign skilled professionals for the job opening you’re applying for since there are enough local residents who could fill that position, your application might get rejected.
Foreign worker levy applies only to the Singapore work permit and S pass, and not the Employment Pass. So even though a Singapore company can technically hire as many foreign workers as they want, they still need to mind the ratio of foreigners to locals they employ.
Not enough local workers
If your employer has an imbalanced ratio of locals to foreigners or hasn’t hired any local employees in their Singapore Company, it’s unlikely you’ll become an employment pass holder. This action is seen as a lack of contribution to the Singaporean economy and MOM often rejects Employment Passes for a Singapore company that doesn’t hire enough locals.
When you’re filling out an Employment Pass application, you need to be very careful to include correct and factual information which is required for anyone to get a new employment pass. If there are discrepancies in the credentials or the personal information you provided.
Unreliable work records
If you have switched jobs without giving an acceptable and solid reason to previous employers in the recent past and/or the duration of your previous job was less than two years, it’s unlikely you’ll get approved. The Ministry of Manpower doesn’t appreciate people who have questionable and unreliable work records.
Earning less than the minimum fixed monthly salary
As we already mentioned, a minimum fixed monthly salary is one of the requirements for getting approved for your Employment Pass. It’s important to make sure you’re fulfilling the criteria regarding the minimum Singapore Employment Pass salary and academic qualification to an optimum level. You can try out the MOM’s Self-Assessment Tool to check if your candidate qualifies for an Employment Pass or S Pass before you apply or renew.
Company does not have sufficient finances
If your company does not have sufficient funds or finances to cover total staff costs for 1 year, MOM may not believe that your company has the capability to pay the declared salary and may reject the EP application.
Can EP holders work part-time?
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.
Can an EP holder relocate with their family members to Singapore?
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)
For common-law spouses, step-children, unmarried handicapped children, and parents of EP & S Pass holders
- Dependant Pass (DP)
For biological children and legally married spouses of an Employment Pass or S pass holders
- Letter of Consent (LOC)
For DP holders who intend to start and operate their business in Singapore
- Pre-approved Letter of Consent
For foreign spouses and children of Singapore Citizen and Singapore Permanent Resident holding an LTVP or LTVP+ from ICA who are allowed to work in Singapore.
Can an EP holder buy a car 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).
Can I start a company if I am an EP holder?
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.
Are an Employment Pass and Work Pass the same thing?
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.
Do EP holders need to pay CPF?
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.
It is advisable to check the current regulations and guidelines released by the Singapore government or consult a qualified professional for timely updates.
How much tax do I pay as an EP holder?
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.
How long can EP holders stay outside of Singapore?
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).
What happens to EP holders if they lose their job?
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.
Can an EP holder become a Permanent Resident (PR) in 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.
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