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Definition: What Is Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore?

The Employment Pass (EP or E-Pass) is Singapore’s the most beneficial employment visa developed for experienced and well-educated PME (professional, manager & executive) talents which has the best package of perks among all other work visas. The pass is often used for various business relocations as it perfectly fits both the foreign staff and company directors. Our migration team that is specialised in incorporation as well is able to cater to your corporate needs and propose the most winning employment visa for any kind of staff.

Singapore has relied on foreign manpower for long years, but now the rejection record testifies a slump in this need. Getting a visa became more complex after the government had introduced new tougher rules that ought to maintain a balance between a foreign and a local manpower that should be winning for the latter. Three types of the Employment Pass in Singapore help the government to endow more promising foreign talents with better benefits.

Types of Employment Visas (aka EP, E Pas or Employment Pass)

The Employment Pass was divided into 3 subclasses in order to cater for needs of every category of foreigners more effectively as well as to distribute benefits more justly. The higher this subclass is, the more perks its package includes. Main factors of this division are the salary prescribed in the contract and the employee’s experience.

  • P1 is for well-educated and talented foreign personalities who showcase intense working experience and valuable skills in the niche of their qualification and who landed a job in Singapore with a monthly salary above 8,000 SGD.
  • P2 is for talented and well-educated foreigners possessing an intense work experience combined with a suite of valuable skills and a monthly salary of at least 4,500 SGD.
  • Q1 is for young people graduated from respectable institutions who possess a modest working experience that is compensated by the suit of valuable skills. The lowest salary bar is 3,300 SGD.

A successful candidate must fit one of the above-mentioned categories. The rule is: the older foreigners are, the more skills and expertise are expected from them. 3,300 SGD is just the lowest salary, and it must correspond with other criteria. 

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements for EPass

As a sponsored visa, EP can be processed only if there is a real offer from a Singapore-based company. This ultimate requirement implies that the following EP criteria refer to both a foreign employee and a Singaporean employer.

Requirements for the employer to get EP in Singapore:

  • Employee must be offered a job by a well-established SG-based company (its paid-up capital must prove its ability to pay this foreign employee the declared salary).

  • Job position must be advertised on Singapore job market for at least 2 weeks to ensure that the Singaporeans are given a chance to be considered for this job before the employer prefers a foreign talent. The employer will have to substantiate this preference. 

Requirements for the employee to get Employment Pass:

  • Offered salary must match the suitable EP type (older employees must have higher salaries).

  • Foreigner holds a diploma or (and) a degree issued by a well-recognized university (college).

  • The employee must argue at least 3 years of occupation-related expertise.

  • Foreigner is expected to import valuable skills that are in demand on the Singapore job market.

  • Candidate’s international passport must be valid.

  • Nationality doesn’t play a crucial role in the EP success as soon as the candidate meets all other criteria, but it still can entail some additional paperwork (please, check your tailor-made list of documents at our visa experts).

Other factors such as company’s track record, employee’s impeccable employment profile and age also affect the EP application result. From our experience, education is inferior to skills. Brilliant educational papers don’t guarantee you a visa approval; the government is likely to prefer a less-educated guy but with unique skills (that are in demand in the country’s developing industries) to his brainy counterpart. Such situation says about the need to assess every case in complex and pull up weak points by preparing an exhaustive documentation.

Features and Benefits of Employment Pass in Singapore

  • Employment Pass fits all nationalities (no citizenship restrictions like, for example, for the Work Permit).

  • Employer hiring a foreigner on the Employment Pass isn’t required to meet the quota criterion and pay the levy for such worker.

  • Visa is bound to a specific hiring company; if the employee would like to swap jobs, a new work pass will be needed. Only the employer (or the accredited agency on the employer’s behalf) is authorized to lodge the EP application.

  • EP is granted for up to 2 years (the exact period is at the government’s discretion) after which it can be extended for 3 years under certain conditions.

  • Pass allows an overseas worker to bring their family to the country if the salary is at least 5,000 SGD (for taking along a spouse, children, and other family members) or 10,000 SG (for bringing parents).

  • The holder of the EP has quite high chances for getting the PR status. Different types of the EP have their specific “due time” when the eligibility reaches its maximum.

  • Lack of professional experience isn’t an obstacle for a seeker of the EP as this visa has a special subclass for young people with modest experience – Q1.

  • EP is the only work visa that allows a foreigner to register a company in Singapore and act as a shareholder; however, the procedure of incorporation for such foreigner-owned company implies some special requirements.  

Rejections became common over the past few years after the MOM has toughened the demands. Rejection not necessary means your bad qualification or ineligibility; it can be caused by poor representation of the employee’s and company’s merits in the documents. If the rejection happens, in the rejection letter, the MOM usually explains points to the reason and the issue that must be solved prior to appealing. The authorities don’t recommend appealing the rejection if the issue cannot be addressed in an effective way: this can lead to one more rejection.

If the employer failed to advertise the job for the Singaporeans or his submitted financial statements are insufficient, the issues must be fixed and new documents that reflect this change prepared. If the employer was spotted in the discriminating the local employees, this also can lead to rejection. Please, find out how to fix it from our visa consultants. Anyway, it’s important to figure out the real reason and address it; if you cannot do it yourself, it’s better to entrust a visa professional with this case to ensure it is properly investigated. There is no need to bustle about as the government gives 3 months for preparing the appeal, and your final visa result will depend on how effectively you use this time.

As this kind of working visa is sponsored (bound to a certain hiring company), only an employer or an accredited agency enlisted by him are authorised to lodge the EP application. Thanks to efforts of Singapore government, the application can be done online via the service EP Online. Such electronic application is processed much faster (7 working days) in comparison with the manual submission (5 weeks) which is also available.

Whatever way you choose, EP application requires elaborate preparation: lots of documents proving the applicant’s eligibility must be collected by both the employer and the employee and then the outstanding application must be compiled. The papers you are going to submit must be in English and contain argumentation for statements you make in your application. If you aren’t sure you would handle the online submission and paperwork that would bear government’s scrutiny, it’s better to enlist a visa professional that knows the standards the authorities never share.

If you decide to apply for the EP using the backup of the visa agency, all you need is to provide us with basic documentation and let us assess your case basing on the latest government’s trends. We will do the rest of the paperwork and develop a strategy for the faultless application. You don’t have to contact the MOM directly as we will fully represent your case during the whole application process: from submission of your application and until the day of your pass collection.

If you are looking for the employment visa that wouldn’t tie you to a specific company and enable you to apply for it on your own, please inquire about the personalised work visa during our online consultation.

After the SG government established new, more intricate rules for the EP application, lots of foreign employees get their passes rejected. The authorities became pickier to foreign talents because the local job market is already congested with foreign manpower, and it negatively impacts the local employment. It doesn’t mean Singapore is closed for foreigners, but it does mean that they require more skills and “promotion” to break through.

To get the EP approved, it is crucial to meet every government’s demand. Moreover, the employer is required to advertise the job on the SG job market for the natives. If the employer prefers a foreigner eventually, the government seeks for proofs why this foreigner is better. It is crucial to represent the skills of the foreign employee as highly beneficial not only for the specific company but also for the Singapore economy. The hiring company should also have a winning representation of its business activity at the authorities.

If you decide to leverage our experience and visa mastery, you will help you to put your best foot forward by polishing your profiles and substantiating your case with top-notch and persuasive documents.

Before the EP expires in 1-2 years (its exact duration will be defined individually for your case by the MOM), the employer can get the visa extended if the foreign employee is still required in the company. If the EP was initially applied for online using electronic service, the option to renew the pass opens 6 months before the expiry date. The employer or the authorised visa agent can apply for the renewal using EP Online service, but for approval, more than just the fact of active employment is required.

The government will check the eligibility of both the foreigner and the hiring company again according to the current requirements. As such things as a salary, work status, and company’s indices may change within the initial EP term, the authorities seek for certainty in the eligibility of both the employer and the EP holder. If the employee is really valuable for you, it’s better not to let the matter take its course, but ensure the maximum is squeezed out of the situation for the successful visa extension. Involving a professional visa backup is a wise solution.

If the initial EP application was submitted manually, the visa can be extended also manually using the form the employer receives with the notification letter 3 months before the visa’s expiry date. It’s crucial to ensure that the authorities receive the filled application form no later than 14 days before the visa expires.

Successful renewal procedure gives the overseas employee 3 more years of working in the country. The number of times the renewal can be requested is unlimited until the foreigner reaches retirement. Nevertheless, for most foreigners, obtaining the status of the permanent resident is a more winning solution because it frees from the tiring renewal routine.


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