There are plenty of reasons to seek employment in Singapore. Business is carried out in English, which makes it an excellent city-state to live whilst enjoying Asian culture. But before packing your bags, you will need to know what working visa options are available.
The 3 main types of work visa
While there are options for students, families, and entrepreneurs, our focus will be on the visas for eligible professionals.
- S Pass: for mid-level skilled staff
- Employment Pass: for professionals, managers, and executives
- Personalized Employment Pass: for high earners who already have an employment pass
1. S Pass work visa
In order to gain an S Pass, you must have an employer or employment agency apply on your behalf. The employer will also be required to provide medical insurance. Here are the eligibility requirements:
- You need to have a job offer with a minimum salary of SG$2,400. The requirements also include that salary reflects experience so those with more experience will be expected to achieve a higher salary
- Have a degree or a diploma in their field. In some cases, certifications will be considered for qualified technicians or specialists. The qualification must have required at least one year of full-time study
- Have relevant work experience in their field
- Possess a passport that is valid for at least 7 months
There is a self-assessment tool that is very accurate. 90% of applicants that meet the requirements in the self-assessment are granted an S Pass. If you don’t meet the requirements your application will be rejected.
If you’re planning to move to Singapore with your family, you need to earn a minimum monthly salary of SG$6,000. For a Dependent’s Pass, you must provide a marriage certificate. If you are not married but have children under the age of 21, you can still apply for a Dependent’s Pass. For such a pass, you will need to provide:
- a copy of the birth certificate/adoption certificate
- if aged under 12, a copy of the vaccinations necessary to enter Singapore
Note that the employer has to apply for the Dependent’s Pass on an employee’s behalf.
The application processing period for an S Pass and a Dependent’s Pass is approximately 3 weeks. An S Pass is valid for up to 2 years, with the employer paying a levy for the application plus a monthly fee. Note that your S Pass will only be valid with the employer who originally completes your application: If you change jobs, you need to start the process afresh. If you remain with the same employer, you can extend the S Pass.
2. Employment Pass work visa
The Employment Pass is for professionals who have reached some form of seniority in their field. Aside from some differences in criteria, the process is very similar to the S Pass, and it is the employer who completes the application.
- Possess a job offer with a minimum salary of SG$3,900 (prior to May 2020 this was S$3,600). Those with more experience will be expected to have a higher salary.
- Have a managerial, executive, or specialized job
- Hold relevant qualifications: either a degree, professional qualifications, or verifiable specialised skills
- Hold a passport that is valid for at least 7 months
Again, it’s advisable to use the self-assessment tool and base your decision to apply on the results.
Can you take your family to Singapore with an Employment Pass? In short, Yes. The requirements for spouses and children under 21 (including adopted children) are the same as detailed for an S Pass. Again, the employer has to apply for any Dependent’s Pass.
Note that, in the case of an Employment Pass, the employer is not required to pay any form of levy and it is up to them whether they provide medical insurance.
An Employment Pass is valid for up to 2 years. You can renew this visa for a further 3 years and the renewal process can start 6 months before the pass expires. Your second Employment Pass is valid for up to 3 years.
3. Personalised Employment Pass
This visa is different because it is down to the candidate to apply and you do not need to have an offer of employment. (That being said, you can’t be unemployed in Singapore for more than 6 months.)
There are benefits to the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP). There are no restrictions on the industry that you can work in and you don’t need to reapply for a PEP if you change jobs, only notify the Singapore government.
These benefits come with strict requirements. You won’t be able to apply for the PEP if you are a freelancer, sole-proprietor, partner, or a director who is also a shareholder. Journalists, editors and producers do not qualify. Requirements include:
- A monthly salary within the last 6 months that is $G18,000 or above
- If you have a valid Employment Pass, you need to be earning at least SG$12,000
- Once in Singapore, you will have to earn at least SG$144,000 per calendar year
The application process takes approximately 8 weeks. Along with the documents listed on the application form, you need to send a screenshot of your bank account confirming the payment of your application (SG$105). A further SG$225 is required when the Singapore government issues the PEP.
If you wish to travel to Singapore with your family, you can apply for a Dependent’s Pass once you have obtained your PEP. The same requirements must be met as previously mentioned for a Dependent’s Pass.
The great thing about visas for Singapore is that they focus more on qualifications and skills than age and industry. You can be an exceptional student straight out of university or a manager close to retirement. The system in Singapore encourages talent to come.
Learn more: Ministry of Manpower