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Employment Pass or EP: Work Visa in Singapore for Foreigners

Employment Pass is a work visa intended for highly qualified foreign professionals and executives working in Singapore with appropriate qualifications, and a salary of at least SGD 4,500 (~3,355 USD) per month for all companies, and at least SGD 5,000 (~3,650 USD) for financial sector companies.

Employment Pass entitles you to live and work in Singapore, as well as arrange long-term dependent visas for your family members.
Employment Pass benefits:
  1. The right to live and work in Singapore for the duration of the visa (which is standard 1-3 years, renewable. There is no limit on the number of years for renewal.
  2. Long-term visas can be obtained for family members (wife/husband, children and parents) to accompany you to Singapore as well.
  3. You can apply for permanent residency in Singapore for yourself and your family members;
  4. You can send your children to study in local and international schools in Singapore
  5. You are considered a tax resident in Singapore if you have EP, and the personal tax rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world, ranging from 0 to 22%.
  6. For this visa, there are no formal quotas or mandatory requirements for the presence and number of local employees
  7. Gives you the opportunity to open a personal bank account in one of the banks in Singapore with a minimum deposit. By comparison, if you do not have an Employment Pass or other long-term visa in Singapore, the minimum amount to open a personal bank account in Singapore starts with a deposit of $200 thousand to $10 million.

Disadvantages of Employment Pass:
  • High salary requirements The minimum salary requirements  of $4,500 to $5,000 really apply to young employees. The rule of thumb in Singapore is that the older and more qualified a candidate is, the higher the salary requirements from the Singapore Ministry of Labor. This means that  for candidates 35 years and older, the salary requirements are doubled compared to the salary for younger employees. That is no longer 4,500, but 8,000-9,000 Singapore dollars per month or 5,900 - 6,700 U.S. dollars.

  • Difficulty in getting for young companies Many people think that starting a company in Singapore automatically guarantees you a work visa. Alas, this is not the case. In order to get a work visa, both the employee and the company must meet certain requirements, which we will discuss below.

  • Difficulty in renewal If you managed to get a work visa - that's great, but do not forget that after some time you will have to renew it. That is, if you have a working company with turnover and employees, there will be no special difficulties, but if you do not have local employees, turnover enough to maintain the company and an employee, and in general you have an inactive company, then there is a risk that the Ministry of Labor in Singapore will refuse to issue a visa.

Employment Pass requirements:

The Employment Pass does not imply quotas for local employees, but it does impose serious requirements on the company's ability to pay and the candidate's qualifications. To obtain Employment Pass work visas in Singapore the company and the applicant must meet certain conditions.

Requirements for the company Employer:

The requirements for the company may vary depending on whether the company is at the stage of development - it is a newly incorporated company or an active company.

For new companies:

Given that in most cases a newly incorporated company has no record of their operations and no guarantee of their solvency, requirements of a paid-up share capital of at least SGD 100,000 (~70,500 USD) apply to this type of company. This amount must be credited to the account after registration of the company and opening a bank account of the company.

For existing companies:

If your company is already in business - it has customers, regular bank account receipts, signed contracts, invoices issued and paid and your turnover is sufficient to pay the monthly salary of a foreign employee, you do not need to have a large share capital of the company (the share capital can be 100 USD).

Whether your company is newly incorporated or has been in business for a long time, the Singapore Ministry of Labor may request the following documents and information:
  • A 1-2-page description of the company's operations
  • Job description of the candidate
  • Company bank statements
  • Contract for office lease in Singapore
  • Signed contracts/invoices to clients
  • Employment contract between the candidate and the company with a breakdown of the applicant's salary
  • Company website
  • Company business plan
  • Information about hiring plans
  • The final list of possible documents is individual and depends on the specifics of the hiring company.

Applicant Requirements:

The ER applicant must also meet certain requirements to qualify under the Employment Pass requirements:
  1. Completed higher education, confirmed by diplomas and certificates
  2. Relevant work experience in your field
  3. Monthly salary of at least SGD 4,500 (the older and more experienced an applicant is, the higher his/her salary should be)
  4. Good business reputation (no criminal cases and adjudications, no bankruptcy records and no black marks in international information databases)
  5. Recognized expertise of the applicant in his/her field of specialization - awards, interviews and publications in relevant media are not mandatory, but will significantly increase the chances of obtaining a work visa;

To verify your qualifications, the Singapore Ministry of Labor routinely asks for the following documents:
A completed and signed form, the so-called Form 8
  • Copy of your passport (personal information page)
  • Summary of last 10 years of employment with company, position and salary
  • Media mentions (if applicable)
  • Special skills of the applicant in relation to the work to be offered
  • Copies of all diplomas and certificates of education received by the applicant
  • Copies of references from previous employers (if any)
  • Marriage certificate (if applicant is married)
  • Educational background of spouse
  • Data on the spouse's work experience
  • Information on children (if any)

Time frame for processing:

Each application is reviewed individually by the Department of Labor based on a broad range of factors, such as the financial condition of the employer's company, the candidate's salary, work experience, business reputation, recognized industry expertise, and ratings of educational institutions the candidate has graduated from.

For new companies the whole process from registration of the company and obtaining a work visa to Singapore in the standard conditions takes 2-3 months, but in the current environment can stretch up to 6 months or more.

For existing companies with an open bank account and active operations, the process of obtaining a work visa can take from three weeks to several months.

Visas for Relatives:

An Employment Pass holder may also sponsor dependent visas for family members: spouses, natural and stepchildren under 21 who are unmarried, disabled children over 21 who are unmarried, and parents of the Employment Pass holder. Dependent visas are linked to the Employment Pass holder and entitle the relative to reside in Singapore. These visas are called Dependant's Pass (DP) dependent visa and Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) long-term social visa.

To apply for Dependant Visas (Dependant Pass/Long Term Visit Pass) for family members, the Employment Pass holder must meet the following criteria:
Have a valid Employment Pass
Have a monthly salary of at least SGD 6,000 (USD 4,400) to sponsor spouse and children;
Have a monthly salary of at least SGD 12,000 (8,800 USD) to sponsor your parents 

If you need assistance in obtaining work visas or assistance with obtaining long-term visas for your family members, we are happy to offer our services.