Internship and student visas in Singapore
4 minute read
You are likely reading this guide as an employer who is interested in getting an intern on board for your company, and want clarity on the criteria and processes for internships and student visas in Singapore.
That, or you’re a curious and conscientious student looking to understand their options for working in Singapore?
Interns (university students looking for work experience) can be a great source of up-and-coming talent when you’re looking for more hands to help grow the business. Interns are tech-savvy, comparably cheaper to hire in comparison to a full-time employee and often have an enthusiasm to tackle mundane or non-urgent items in exchange for real-world experience, which can free your staff to tackle higher-value projects.
Even if a student attends a Singapore university, it’s common to still need an appropriate visa if they are an international student. Let’s dive into the two main types: the Work Holiday Pass and the Student Pass.
Work Holiday Pass (WHP) under Work Holiday Programme
The Work Holiday Pass allows qualified foreign students to intern in Singapore for a period of up to 6 months. This is the most flexible pass as it does not have a cap to the amount of hours an intern can work. A WHP has a quota of 2,000 applicants at any one time.
In order for a candidate to apply for a Work Holiday Pass, the intern must meet the following criteria:
- Aged 18 to 25
- Undergraduate or graduate of a university in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom or the United States
- University is recognised by the government of the respective ten countries or regions.
- For undergraduates: They have to be a resident and a full-time student of the university for at least 3 months before applying for the WHP
- For graduates: They have to be a resident and a full-time student of the university
A WHP is not restricted to specific job roles. However, if your intern will be working in a profession such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, architecture or law, he or she would need to comply with registration requirements to practice in Singapore. Since the duration of the job is short, there is no minimum salary requirement.
Work pass exemption for foreign students with a Student Pass
If your candidate is not suitable for a Work Holiday Pass, you may still hire your intern – if they have a Student Pass – via the work pass exemption for foreign students.
In order to apply for the work pass exemption, the intern needs to:
- Have a Student Pass
- Be from one of the approved institutions listed by MOM, and
- Not be an exchange student doing study modules in Singapore.
For those seeking employment during school vacation
If your intern is on vacation in Singapore, they are allowed to work during that period without obtaining a work pass. They would have to meet all the requirements listed below for them to be eligible to work in Singapore:
- Full-time matriculated or registered student in one of the approved schools (primarily Singapore-based international schools, universities and polytechnics)
- Hold a Student Pass issued by the Immigration of Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
- You are aged 14 years and above
They will still be allowed to work if they are waiting for their final examination results or convocation from an approved institution. Once they have completed their studies and their Student Pass expires, you would have to apply for a Work Pass for them if you would still want the intern to be working in your company.
For those seeking employment during school term
If you plan on hiring someone who is still in the midst of studying, they would still have to comply with the two requirements listed above. Additionally, as an employer you need to ensure:
- Your candidate can only work a maximum of 16 hours a week, or
- Working at the job is under an industrial attachment programme conducted by a University or educational institution. The attachment can either be compulsory or an elective but it has to contribute towards your candidate’s graduation requirements.
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