Singapore is a modern country that invests heavily in human capital, education, and business initiatives. In fact, it’s been ranked first in the world for ease of doing business, and the country has one of the most robust economies in Asia. Singapore is a popular destination for foreign workers, but you have to follow the right steps to get a work visa.
The first thing you need to know is that the process of getting a work permit depends on the type of permit you need. Some you can apply for yourself, while, for others, your employer has to apply for on your behalf.
Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)
The PEP is part of a plan to draw global talent to Singapore by cutting through the red tape for highly skilled individuals. PEPs are issued to the individual rather than to a sponsoring employer, and PEP holders can remain in Singapore for up to six months while finding employment. PEP holders can also change jobs without having to reapply – they simply need to inform the Ministry of Manpower of the change. To qualify, your most recent monthly income has to be at least S$18,000.
An EntrePass is for entrepreneurs – people who want to start and operate a business in Singapore. To be eligible, you and your company have to meet the following requirements:
- Be a Private Limited Company registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (or show intention to register the company once the permit is issued)
- Be able to furnish a bank statement from a Singapore-based company account proving assets of at least S$50,000
- Applicants must own at least 30 percent of the company
Business must also meet at least one of these requirements:
- Receive funding or investment from a recognised third-party Venture Capitalist (VC) or business angel who is accredited by the Singapore Government
- Hold an Intellectual Property (IP) that is registered with an approved national IP
- Have an on-going research collaboration with a research institution recognised by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore
- Be an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator
Employment Pass (EP)
Like the PEP, the EP is designed for professionals who will be working in managerial or executive jobs or for those who have specialized skills. However, the income threshold is lower at only S$3,300 per month for younger workers, while older workers need to command higher salaries to qualify. Your employer has to apply for an EP on your behalf, so it’s necessary to have a job offer in hand before you apply for your work permit.
S passes are for mid-skilled workers earning at least S$2,200 per month. Your employer has to apply on your behalf and also has to pay a Foreign Worker levy.
Work permits are available for skilled and semi-skilled workers, most commonly domestic helpers and performing artists. The employer must first apply for permission to hire a foreign worker and must also pay a Foreign Worker Levy.
The application for a work visa in Singapore can be complex, but help is available. If you’re applying on your own behalf for a PEP or EntrePass, the Ministry of Manpower can guide you through the process. For all other types of work visas, you just need to follow your employer’s lead and supply all required documentation. Once you get through the visa process, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career in one of the world’s preeminent countries for business.