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Types of Singapore Visas

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Singapore is a popular employment destination for nationals of both underdeveloped and top-tier countries, not only for the well-educated top earners but also for people looking for a simple though decently paid job. Singapore’s advanced employment legislation, multiethnic society, high quality of life and security urged lots of foreigners to pursue employment in this country even now after the government of Singapore has made qualification for all working visas a more complex undertaking. 
Singapore has working visas that fit any category of employees based, different levels of skills and salaries. Each visa type is well-balanced with benefits and constraints in order to equip more valuable workers with better privileges and hold back the lowest-skilled ones. Getting working visas to Singapore has become harder, and the government seems to tighten the screw on less needed foreign employees by setting more demanding criteria not only to employees but also to SG-based companies that hire them. But getting the proper visa is still possible if you approach the matter with a professional behind your back. We hope this guide will help you to figure out the key principles of Singapore’s work visa policies and come up with an outstanding skill offer. 
The authority that governs the employment of foreign manpower in Singapore is called the Ministry of Manpower. It defines the state’s policy and values in such employment, develops standards and requirements for relevant visas, controls the fitness of Singapore’s companies and foreign employees, and processes work visa applications.

Employment Pass

Developed for the most skilled and educated foreign manpower, the Employment Pass perfectly suits PME (professionals, managers & executives) and is often used by directors as a scheme of relocation after starting a firm in Singapore. The E Pass provides the best package of perks in comparison with other work visas and doesn’t have a quota that would limit the number of hires on the EP. The government has divided the EP into 3 subclasses (taking into consideration the salary and relevant skills), and such stratification helps the authorities to distribute benefits between different categories of foreign talents in a more just way:

  • P1 is for talents with outstanding working experience and education who were offered a job with a monthly salary above 8k SGD.
  • P2 is for talents with extensive working experience and education who landed a job worth at least 4.5k SGD a month.
  • Q1 is for young employees graduated from respectable educational institutions who have scarce working experience but valuable skills. The lowest salary bar is 3.3k SGD.

Features of the EP

  • Visa has no nationality restrictions.
  • Neither quota nor a foreign worker levy is applied to the EP: the company can hire as many foreign staff on EPs as it needs (provided that it fulfils the criteria).
  • Issued EP is bound to a specific SG-based company, and the employee cannot swap jobs: he/she would need a new EP for every new employer.
  • Maximum validity of the first visa issuance is 1-2 years. Later, it can be prolonged for 3 years more if the company and the hired foreigner are still eligible.
  • Visa allows its holder to bring family members to SG if his/her monthly salary is at least 5k SGD (for taking dependants such as children and a spouse) or at least 10k SGD (for bringing parents to SG).
  • Employment Pass gives the highest chances for obtaining the country’s permanent residence; however, the due time for submitting the PR application is different for each subclass of the EP.
  • Holders of the EP can participate in the company incorporation in Singapore and act as shareholders; however, such procedure has lots of specific requirements.
  • Employer can try applying on his own or use services of an expert visa agency. The employee isn’t allowed to the application procedure directly.

Requirements for Getting the EP

For the employer:

  • Must be a well-established Singapore-based firm with a sufficient paid-up capital.
  • Mustn’t have a record of mistreatment of the local talents.
  • Must advertise the job on the local market for at least 2 weeks and consider a foreigner only after no fit among the locals is found.

For the employee:

  • Offered salary must correspond with the candidate’s level of skills, education, and experience and fit the salary scope of the appropriate EP subclass.
  • Diploma/degree from a well-established institution.
  • Skills and expertise are superior to education. Over 3 years of occupation-related expertise are required.
  • Valuable skills that are in demand in Singapore.
  • Valid passport.
  • Candidate can apply for this pass until he reaches the pension age; however, an older candidate is expected to showcase a more intense experience.
  • Candidates from worldwide are welcome; however, certain nationalities may require additional paperwork.

Applying for the WP requires elaborate strategizing as the MOM approves only the most winning candidates. If the employer isn’t sure that their case is strong enough to compete with other candidates, it’s better not to risk your chance and involve a professional visa backup. Our visa specialists will assess your chances and do the necessary profile job to promote advantages of both the firm and the worker. The MOM is very demanding to the quality of submitted papers, that is why you put your application on the front foot if you confide your paperwork to us.

 

The duration of visa processing depends on the way the application was submitted: 7 days for the electronic application using the webservice EP Online (or applying through the visa agency) or 5 weeks for the manual application.

Personalised Employment Pass

This visa was designed for top earners (executives and professionals) who value their flexibility and freedom. The visa has a lot in common with the classic Employment Pass, but its main benefit is that it is bound not to a particular employer, but to the employee himself. Personalised EP fits directors and talented individuals who would like to enrich their expertise with a new experience in Singapore, but stay flexible in the same time. On the other hand, the visa requires much higher monthly salary than the classic Employment Pass (at least 18k SGD) and has a couple of other restrictions.

Features of the PEP

  • The foreigner can initiate applying for this visa before even finding a job in Singapore. The MOM will assess the foreigner based on his personal merits and past working experience.
  • After obtaining the visa, the overseas worker can arrive in Singapore and start job-hunting.
  • Foreigners holding the PEP are free to swap employers to their own discretion. The visa allows them to stay unemployed in SG during 6 months between jobs. If the foreigner fails to find the job during these 6 months, the visa gets cancelled and he must leave Singapore.
  • PEP holder has stronger chances in landing a job in Singapore: an employer would prefer a PEP holder because such hire doesn’t require messing with the work visa application. Moreover, no levies and quotas apply to this visa.
  • Visa is issued only for 3 years without an option of renewal. Before it is going to terminate, the foreigner can obtain another employer-attached visa based on his active employment.
  • PEP holders can bring members of their families to Singapore if their salaries qualify: over 5k SGD for children and spouses and over 10k SGD for parents.
  • Visa doesn’t permit a foreigner to start a personal business in Singapore.

Requirements for the PEP

  • Candidate’s monthly salary should be over 18k SGD (for those foreigners who upgrade to PEP from P1 EP, the salary should be at least 12k SGD). For proving this fact, a foreigner is required to provide salary slips and bank statements for the last 3 months. The MOM will consider only salaries earned no earlier than 6 months before application.
  • The same as EP applicants, PEP applicants must showcase impeccable educational qualifications (a diploma/degree from a reputable university).
  • Candidates must showcase prominent occupation-related working experience and a set of valuable skills (must be represented in documents).
  • The same as for the EP, nationality doesn’t play a significant role but can entail additional paperwork.
  • Candidate can apply for this pass until he reaches the pension age; however, an older candidate is expected to showcase a more intense experience.
  • Valid passport.

The difficulty of getting the Personalised EP is that the foreigner applies on his own and there is no Singaporean company that could go to bat for him. The foreign talent relies only on his working experience and skills, and therefore, it is crucial to get them represented in the most favourable way. It is better to confide this task to the local visa professional who knows the demand of the Singapore’s job market and the MOM’s expectations.

The PEP processing takes the authorities almost 5 weeks – much more than consideration of the EP application. However, foreigners who leverage a professional visa advice and assistance in paperwork can shorten this period and achieve better chances for approval.

S Pass

Overseas technicians pursuing employment in Singapore’s thriving industries such as chemicals, electronics, marine, engineering, or construction can pursue the S Pass that was specially designed for medium-skilled foreign manpower. Unlike the EP and its premium version PEP, the S Pass is subject to such restrictions as quota and the overseas worker levy. Such measures help the MOM to control the unwanted influx of foreign labour force and leave only the most promising foreigners inside the country.

S Pass’ Features

  • Visa is bound to the specific Singapore-based company that hires a foreigner. Only the company (or the involved visa agency) is allowed to the application procedure.
  • Maximum duration of the S Pass is 24 months, but the exact duration will be decided individually depending on the foreigner’s passport validity: the passport must be valid for at least 7 months, and the visa will terminate 1 month earlier than the passport’s validity.
  • Pass’ duration can be prolonged for the maximum period of 3 years provided that the foreigner is still employed and both the foreigner and the company fulfil the initial visa criteria. The extension will be 1 month shorter than the passport validity.
  • Firm that hires a foreigner on this Pass must pay a monthly levy for this worker, meet the quota demand, and buy insurance.
  • Not all holders of this Pass are able to take their family members and relatives along to Singapore because of salary insufficiency.
  • Holders of the S Pass have a right to pursue the country’s permanent residence; however, for them, getting qualified may take much longer than for holders of EP and PEP.

Requirements for the S Pass

For the employee:

  • Minimum allowed salary for this pass is 2.2k SGD; however, but in reality, it must correspond to the candidate’s age (the older the more experienced), job position and expertise/skills.
  • Candidate’s educational qualifications must be acceptable: a diploma, degree, or certificate about a full-time study related to the occupation.
  • Foreigner must have a rich occupation-related working experience and a set of skills that are in demand in Singapore.
  • Passport must be valid for no less than 7 months.
  • There are no nationality restrictions for this working pass; however, some nationalities may entail additional paperwork.

For the company:

  • Activity of the hiring firm must be fully represented for the MOM. If the employer has never dealt with the MOM in respect of visas, a diligent reputation building work must be done.
  • Hiring firm must have an account in the CPF.
  • Quota criterion: the number of S Pass holders hired by his firm mustn’t exceed 15% (for the service niche) or 20% (for all other sectors) of the total firm’s staff.
  • Employer must be ready to pay a levy for a hired S Pass holder every month (the exact amount depends on the worker’s skill level) and cover the employee’s needs in the health care.

As the government plans on reducing its reliance on medium- and lower-skilled foreign manpower in the next years, getting the visa becomes harder and requires a wise strategising and competent profile building. To succeed, a company needs to represent itself as a reliable employer that values foreign experience and contributes to the local employment.

Employers who confide their cases to us get a free and complex assessment, as well as assistance in preparing documents that say a lot for their business activity. Enlisting our professional backup will also help you to avoid frustrating rejections and win a valuable foreign worker. Processing of this Pass usually takes up to 7 days.

Work Permit

Singapore welcomes also foreign unskilled labour force arriving from Asian countries and seeking employment in such niches as construction, services, manufacturing, process, marine etc. Employment benefits of the Work Permit developed for this category of foreign workers are balanced with restrictions and high demands for the employer (levies, bond, quotas, and appropriate health coverage). This visa is intended only for working purpose and doesn’t provide a residence option. The government controls that all WP holders stick to their initial working purpose of arrival.

Features of the Working Permit

  • This working pass requires getting a job in Singapore first as only the firm (or an involved visa agent) is allowed to the application process.
  • This visa is only for certain Asian nationalities, and every industry or sector of the economy in Singapore has its own nationality list. Employees should check their nationalities’ eligibility before searching for a job in Singapore.
  • Firm that hires a WP holder must pay a monthly levy, security bond, buy insurance for this worker as well as ensure this hire meets his sector’s quota criterion.
  • Visa is issued for the maximum period of 24 months, but the exact duration will be decided depending on a foreigner’s passport validity, a term of employment, a size of the security bond the firm paid, and so on. Before the visa terminates, the employer can initiate its extension under certain requirements.
  • Foreign workers holding the WP cannot have their families join them in Singapore.
  • WP holders aren’t permitted to run their personal businesses in Singapore.
  • WP holders cannot claim for the permanent residence.
  • Female WP holders need to get the govt’s approval if they want to marry a Singaporean or a PR.
  • Getting pregnant leads to the pass’ cancellation unless it happens within the approved marriage with a Singaporean/PR.
  • Only Malaysian holders of the WP can apply for a new job (and get a new WP for it) without resigning from the old job first. WP holders of all other nationalities can pursue a new employment in Singapore only after giving up their previous jobs.
  • Visa doesn’t have any salary criterion. But usually WP holders earn less than the S Pass holders.

Requirements for WP

For foreign workers:

  • Only nationals from certain approved Asian countries (such as India, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hong Kong, and so on) are allowed to apply for this visa.
  • Candidate must be older than 18 years and no older than 50 (58 for the Malaysians).
  • Candidates’ passport has to be valid.
  • Foreigner’s educational qualifications are welcome; higher skilled workers are at an advantage because firms would have to pay a lower levy for them.
  • WP holders are permitted to work only according to the specifications of their working visas. It is illegal for them to get involved in any other employment or personal business.

For hiring firm:

  • Employer must pay the WP holder the declared wages.
  • Employer pays the levy (monthly payment for a hired unskilled worker). It varies from sector to sector, but the average amount is 300 SGD for more skilled and 550 SGD for less skilled.
  • Employer pays the security bond for every non-Malaysian employee worth 5k SGD (it is refunded after the worker’s employment terminates and he/she leaves the country).
  • Employment must fit the sector quota (a percentage of WP holders that can be hired by a firm): 15% for firms operating in the service sector and 20% for other sectors.
  • Employer must meet the WP holder’s needs for health care by buying insurance (15k SGD).

Processing of the WP application is very fast – only 1 day; however, the application procedure has its challenges: the government needs to have exhaustive information about the hiring firm and persuasive evidence of its lawful employment practices and business activity. This requires a meticulous paperwork and profile building. If you have challenges in preparing the necessary pieces of evidence, confide your WP application to an expert visa team.

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