How to Get a Work Visa in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide

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Singapore has emerged as a global hub for businesses, attracting diverse talent worldwide. T...

Rebecca O'Rourke

By Rebecca O'Rourke

Singapore has emerged as a global hub for businesses, attracting diverse talent worldwide. To work legally in Singapore, both current employees and prospective candidates need to obtain a Singapore work visa, also known as a work pass.

Singapore offers a range of work visas catering to various categories of professionals, skilled workers, trainees, and students. This comprehensive guide will explore the different types of Singapore work visas, their requirements, and the application process.


Navigating the Landscape

Navigating the Singapore work visa landscape requires a thorough understanding of the various types of passes, their requirements, and the application process.

Whether you are a multinational company expanding to Singapore or an entrepreneur looking to start a business, securing the correct work visa is crucial.

Partnering with an Employer of Record can also simplify the process, enabling you to focus on your business goals whilst your EOR partner navigates the complexities of Singapore’s employment and immigration laws on your behalf.


Important Considerations for Singapore Work Visas

When considering Singapore work visas, there are a few essential points to keep in mind before proceeding:

  • Sponsorship Requirement: Every candidate seeking employment in Singapore must have sponsorship from a legally incorporated Singaporean entity. This requirement can be addressed by partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR), a third-party organization that serves as the legal employer of your global workforce.
  • Minimum Qualifying Salary: Singapore sets minimum qualifying salary thresholds for international workers. As of September 2022, candidates for an Employment Pass must earn at least SGD 5,000 per month. The financial services sector has a higher threshold of SGD 5,500 per month.
  • Dependent's Pass: Employment Pass, S Pass, and ONE Pass holders may apply for a Dependent's Pass, allowing their spouses and children to join them in Singapore for up to two years. Family members who do not qualify for the Dependent's Pass may need to obtain a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP).

 

Types of Work Visas for Professionals

Singapore provides various work passes for professionals. A professional job is often classified as a job that requires higher specialist education such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph. D degree. Most engineering jobs that require a specialised degree will come under this category.


Employment Pass (EP)

The Employment Pass is a two-year work pass designed for individuals with job offers in executive roles within Singaporean-based companies. Starting from September 2023, applicants must earn a monthly salary of at least S$5,000 (US$3,760), or S$5,500 (US$4,136) for those working in the financial services sector. Tech professionals with skills in high demand may be eligible for a five-year Employment Pass.

Applicants must also have a job offer from a locally incorporated company, earn a minimum monthly salary, possess acceptable qualifications, and demonstrate relevant work experience.

EntrePass

EntrePass is a one-year work pass intended for foreign entrepreneurs who plan to establish a business in Singapore with venture backing or innovative technologies. It provides flexibility for entrepreneurs to start and run their own ventures.

Applicants must have a business proposal, possess an entrepreneurial background, or experience, and provide evidence of funding or venture capital backing.

Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

The Personalized Employment Pass is a three-year work pass that offers greater flexibility than the Employment Pass. PEP holders are not tied to a specific employer and can switch jobs without the need for reapplication. To qualify for this visa, candidates must earn a fixed monthly salary of S$22,500 (US$16,920) from abroad or while already working on an Employment Pass in Singapore.

Applicants must have a job offer, earn a fixed monthly salary, and possess acceptable qualifications and work experience.

Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (ONE Pass)

The Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass is an exclusive five-year pass for top talent across multiple sectors, such as business, arts, sports, and academia. ONE Pass holders can work for multiple companies simultaneously. Candidates must earn a monthly salary of at least S$30,000 (US$22,560) or its equivalent in foreign currency, or have a job offer from an established Singaporean-based employer paying them S$30,000 per month.

 

Types of Work Visas for Skilled Workers

Singapore also has different work passes for skilled and semi-skilled professionals in sectors like construction, manufacturing, and domestic work. These can include brick/stone masons, electricians, machine operators and mechanics to name a few. Some of the notable work passes in this category include:

S Pass

The S Pass is a two-year work pass available to mid-level skilled talent earning a minimum monthly salary of S$3,000 (US$2,256). Applicants must possess a degree from an accredited institution or have relevant work experience.

Applicants must earn a minimum monthly salary, possess a degree from an accredited institution or relevant work experience, and meet the assessment criteria for salary and skill level.

Work Permit for Migrant Workers

The Work Permit for Migrant Workers is a two-year work pass for semi-skilled workers from select countries, such as India, the Philippines, and Taiwan. It is applicable to industries like construction, marine shipyard, manufacturing, processes, and services.

Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Workers (MDW) H3

The Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Workers is a two-year work pass for individuals between the ages of 23 and 50 from countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It allows them to work in Singapore as family helpers.

This pass has specific requirements for workers from select countries and industries. The criteria include a valid employment offer, a medical examination, and a security bond.

Work Permit for Confinement Nanny

The Work Permit for Confinement Nanny is a 16-week work pass for Malaysians aged between 23 and 70. It allows them to come to Singapore and provide care for newborns during the first 16 weeks of their life.

Work Permit for Performing Artiste

The Work Permit for Performing Artiste is a six-month, non-renewable work pass for performing artists aged 18 or older. It enables them to work for eligible public entertainment outlets in Singapore.

 

Types of Work Visas for Trainees

Singapore offers work passes for trainees and students seeking professional internships or training opportunities. These passes include:

Training Employment Pass

The Training Employment Pass is a three-month pass for foreign nationals coming to Singapore to study or undergo professional training in a local institution or company. Applicants must earn a minimum monthly salary of S$3,000 (US$2,256).

Applicants must have a job offer from a local company or be accepted for training at a recognized institution. They must also fulfil the salary requirement.

Work Holiday Pass

The Work Holiday Pass is a non-renewable six-month pass available to international students aged 18 to 25 from countries participating in the Working Holiday Programme. Additionally, there is a similar programme exclusively for Australians called the Holiday Visa Programme, which offers a one-year pass to individuals aged 18 to 30.

Eligible applicants must be students from participating countries, aged between 18 and 25, and enrolled in a recognized university or tertiary institution.

Training Work Permit

The Training Work Permit is a six-month pass for unskilled and semi-skilled employees from overseas companies. It allows them to undergo training at a local firm in Singapore.

Candidates must be employees of related overseas companies and have a valid training arrangement with a Singapore-based company.

 

Short Term Work Visas

In some instances, visitors to Singapore can undertake specific work activities without a work pass. However, if the intended work activity is not covered, individuals may apply for a short-term work permit, known as a miscellaneous work pass. These passes are ideal for individuals like journalists and speakers at local events. Full-time students may also work jobs that contribute to their graduation requirements without obtaining a work pass or notifying the Ministry of Manpower.

 

The Application Process

Obtaining a Singapore work visa involves several steps. Here's an overview of the application process:

  • Job Offer: The applicant needs to secure a job offer from a locally incorporated company in Singapore.
  • Employer Application: The employer or a third-party local entity must submit the work visa application online through the Ministry of Manpower's online Employment Pass (EP) eService. The application requires the company's up-to-date business profile.
  • In-Principle Approval (IPA) Letter: If the application is approved, the employer will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter within three weeks.
  • Employee Travel: Upon receiving the IPA letter, the employee can travel to Singapore within six months (or 60 days for an S Pass).
  • Work Visa Issuance: The employer must apply online for the work visa issuance once the employee is in Singapore. The application requires payment of the processing fee.
  • Issuance Notification Letter: If the application is successful, the employer will receive a work pass approval letter. This document allows the employee to start working and enter and exit Singapore as needed until they receive their employment pass card.
  • Registration at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC): All employees must register at the EPSC within two weeks of receiving the approval letter to receive their official work pass card.

 

NES Fircroft can be your Employer of Record

NES Fircroft’s expert recruitment teams source engineering and technical professionals for global roles with some of the biggest names across Oil & Gas, Power & Renewables, Construction and Infrastructure, Life Sciences, Mining, Automotive and Chemicals sectors worldwide.

The demand for skilled engineers is as high as ever, meaning sourcing from other countries is a lucrative solution for employers.

Simplify your global payroll processes and unlock the potential of your international workforce. With offices in over 45 countries and has decades of experience in international expansion, we can help you to hire employees quickly, compliantly and with minimal risk.

With our teams managing your talent, we can resolve your legal entity and employment requirements, ease your payroll burden, manage tax queries, and ensure immigration labour law compliance. We are award-winning in compliance and payroll, so your expansion plans are safe.

Contact us to discuss how we can support your international workforce.