Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a type of Singapore work pass that allows foreign professionals, directors and business owners to legally work in Singapore. Overseas companies can use the Employment Pass to relocate their employees to Singapore. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the Employment Pass Application Process, Qualifying Criteria and how you can overcome an Employment Pass Rejection.
The Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a type of Singapore work pass / visa granted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to foreigners (professionals, managers, executives or directors), who wish to work legally in Singapore. This is the most versatile work pass that covers the biggest group of current foreign working professionals in Singapore (aside from work permit holders). Additionally, no work pass quota is required for this type of work pass but there are other new requirements implemented recently to ensure the fair consideration of locals before the hiring of foreigners on Employment Pass. Read further to learn more.
From 1st of September 2023, all New Employment Applicants must meet the EP Qualifying salary and pass the New Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). This is a 2-stage eligibility framework that allows more clarity of the EP criteria for businesses and concurrently improve the qualify of EP candidates coming to Singapore.
EP Qualifying Salary (Stage 1)
COMPASS (Stage 2)
COMPASS is a clear, point-driven system that offers businesses enhanced predictability for workforce planning. This new Employment Pass framework allows employers to identify top-tier foreign professionals, embracing a more diverse workforce while also strengthening a robust local workforce. See below table for details of the COMPASS Points system.
This is the primary set of criteria that applicants and companies must meet. It consists of two subcategories:
A. Applicant Criteria:
Points can be scored ranging from 0 to 20 for each criterion.
B. Company Criteria:
Like the Applicant Criteria, you can score between 0 to 20 points for each of these criteria.
An applicant must aim to achieve a total of 40 points within the Foundational Criteria to pass this stage. However, if the applicant does not reach this score, they have an additional opportunity to earn points through the Bonus Criteria.
C. Bonus Criteria:
Exemptions from COMPASS:
Applicants can be exempted from COMPASS is they meet one of the following conditions:
|*C1. Salary |
Fixed monthly salary compared to local PMET salaries in sector by age
|Points||**C2. Qualification |
Based on candidate's qualifications
|≥ 90th percentile||20||Top-tier institution||20|
|65th to < 90th percentile||10||Degree-equivalent qualification||10|
|< 65th percentile||0||No degree-equivalent qualification||0|
|* All applicants must meet the EP qualifying salary, which increases with age.|
COMPASS further accounts for sectoral differences in salary norms. Your application earns points by meeting sector-specific benchmarks for local PMET salaries. These benchmarks are also age-adjusted.
|** As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your candidate’s qualifications are genuine and were awarded by accredited institutions. Learn more about the requirements.|
|***C3. Diversity (Firm-related)|
Share of candidate's nationality among firm’s PMETs.*
|****C4. Support for local employment (Firm-related)|
Firm’s share of local PMETs within its subsector*
|< 5%||20||≥ 50th percentile||20|
|5 to < 25%||10||20th to < 50th percentile||10|
|≥ 25%||0||< 20th percentile||0|
|*** A diverse mix of nationalities enriches firms with new ideas and networks, and contributes to a more inclusive and resilient workforce.|
COMPASS awards more points to applications where the candidate’s nationality forms a small share of the firm’s PMET employees. No points are earned if your firm is applying to bring in a candidate whose nationality currently forms a significant share of its PMET employees.
|**** COMPASS recognises firms that make efforts to create opportunities for the local workforce and build complementary teams comprising both local and foreign professionals.|
Your application earns more points if your firm has a relatively higher share of locals among PMET employees, compared to your peers in the same subsector.
Tips to Ease the Transition to COMPASS
Strategic Workforce Alignment & Investment:
Holistic Approach to Workforce Diversity & Empowerment:
Seek Professional Expertise for Seamless Navigation:
The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is implemented as a standard requirement to ensure that all employers in Singapore consider candidates fairly for job opportunities without showing any discrimination based on non-job-related elements like gender, age, nationality or race.
Employers must now advertise their job under the national job portal, jobsbank, for at least 28 days before they can proceed with the application for an employment pass or S-Pass.
** Under the WTO GATS, the overseas employee must have worked in an overseas related company for at least 1 year and they must hold certain roles to be eligible for ICT.
Only companies with less than 10 employees or when the offered salary is higher than 20,000 SGD is exempted.
Beside the above documents, you may have to provide supplementary documents as proof of business activities or detail explanation on why you need the applicant.
To submit an Employment Pass application, you can either:
We would strongly recommend Online application as manual application can lead to delays to your application and further complication when submitting additional documents.
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Typically, you can expect to get an update from MOM within 2 weeks upon your first submission of your E pass application status (except manual application). At this point of time, you may obtain a favourable outcome or MOM may send a request for additional support documents required further assess your case (In certain case, you may be rejected first). You will either receive an SMS or email notification on your application status depending on what you had declared to MOM on the mode of communication.
In case you do not receive your Singapore employment pass status within 3 weeks after submission, you may check your SG work pass status here.
MOM additional documents request typically happens when your company is new or does not have enough financial in their records to proof that you have the revenue to sponsor a work pass holder. However, there can also be other reasons that are linked to the applicant’s credential like the applicant does not have the experience or qualification required for the work.
The first step is to analyse carefully on the list of documents that MOM are requesting for you to furnish. The documents provide to MOM must be strong enough to justify the hiring of foreigner to work in the company.
At this stage, you had probably submitted an application or an appeal for your employment pass application but your application is still rejected. There can be many reasons of rejection for an EP application but you should not be worry if you have a strong case. You can always appeal against a rejection if you have a strong reason on why the application should not be rejected.
You can submit your appeal on the EPOL portal via the employer or authorised third party agency like One Visa. You must submit your appeal within 3 months from the date of rejection. Therefore, you are given more than enough time to review the rejection reason(s) or seeking someone professional for advice before you submit all your required documents or justification letters. Do remember that you are only given 2 chances to appeal for a rejection so without the understanding of what the MOM officer wants, there is not point to waste your chance on an appeal. Always seek professional help if you are unsure of how to proceed with your appeal.
As an employment pass holder, you are only allowed to sponsor your spouse, children and parents. Additionally, you must earn a monthly income of at least 6,000 SGD per month to be able to sponsor your dependents. Additional income requirements to sponsor your parents.
|Family Member Category||Type of Pass to apply for
|Married Spouse & Unmarried Children (including those that are legally adopted)||Dependant's Pass|
|Common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children above 21 year-old & unmarried step-children below 21 year-old||Long Term Visit Pass
(Employment Pass holders must earn a minimum income of 12,000 SGD per month)
|Long Term Visit Pass
|Check ltvp status or DP||MOM Non Login portal|
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Overseas sponsorship Employment Pass is suitable for those overseas companies (with no local presence) who are planning to send their employee as a consultant for a 1-2 years project to be attached to a local client company in Singapore. The salary will still be remunerated from the overseas company but the client company is responsible for sponsoring the employment pass. You must clearly define the relationship between your overseas company and the local company as well as the nature of work for the overseas consultant.
For this type of employment pass, you are only allowed to apply for epass manually and it will take at least 8 – 12 weeks. So you must prepare well in advance if you are looking to apply for this type of employment pass.
When you Employment Pass is approved, you will receive a notification from MOM and you can download your EP In Principle Approval (IPA) Letter online.
When you refer to the IPA letter, you are usually given 3 – 6 months to complete the E Pass collection process.
Your company or agent must arrange should advise you on all the documentation required for the collection process like getting all the declaration forms signed and doing your medical checkup (when necessary). Thereafter, you are required to make an appointment with the MOM for you to complete the formality of issuing your work pass.
Typically, Employment Passes are granted to those who are salaried employees. However, for those business owners, directors, or shareholders who do not meet the innovative requirements of Entrepass, they can apply for Employment Pass instead. See below for a detailed comparison between Employment Pass and Entrepass.
|Entrepass||Employment Pass (EP)|
|Company Requirements||Must be new company setup < 6 months||No requirement for how long the company has been established|
|Business Activities||A business plan is enough as proof of business||Need concrete business activities as proof of ongoing business|
|Salary Requirement||No salary required||Need to be paid a minimum monthly salary|
|Main Evaluation Criteria||Innovative business idea and the applicant’s business track record. A 10-page business plan is required. Check out our full list of Entrepass criteria.||Company sponsors business activities and applicant’s credentials (education, relevant working experience etc.). Check out our full list of criteria.|
|Renewal criteria||Need to meet certain business milestones for your renewal to be granted.||Your company must show proof of business activities for your renewal to be granted.|
|Processing Time||8 – 12 weeks||3 – 8 weeks|
|Dependant Pass Eligibility||Must achieve the business milestones set by MOM before you can apply for Dependant Passes for your family.||Must be making a minimum salary of 6,000 SGD per month before you can apply for Dependant Passes for your family. Check out our full list of Dependant's Pass Criteria.|
|Pass Validity||Issued for 12 months and can be renewed on a 12 month basis||Issued for 12 – 24 months and can be renewed for 24 to 36 months.|
Typically, your employment pass is granted for 12 – 24 months and you are allowed to process your employment pass renewal 6 months prior to the expiry of your current work pass. However, the renewal of the EP is not guaranteed. The company sponsor will still be scrutinised on whether they have enough business activities to hire the existing EP holder. Therefore, it is always better to plan in advance on documentation required before you proceed with the renewal.
There are certain changes that you should notify MOM. See below for details all the changes that you are required to update MOM:
The employer is given 7 days from the last day of work to cancel the employment pass of an EP holder when he/she is no longer working in the company. In the situation when the EP expires, you are given 1 days to cancel the pass. Only the employer or an employment agency can assist in the cancellation online.
For any cancellation of employment pass, the work pass holder will be given 30 days short term visit pass to arrange for his/her departure. Before the departure, it is the responsibility of the applicant to seek tax clearance from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The employer must also settle all outstanding salary owed to EP holder.
As an EP holder, you are eligible to apply for the Singapore PR but the Singapore Permanent Residency follows a different set of criteria. PR is assessed based on your contribution to Singapore as an individual, your family profile, and your ability to integrate into the Singapore culture. There is no fixed number of years that you have to stay to be eligible for SPR. If you are interested, you can view our Singapore PR Service.
From September 2022, there will be some minor changes to the Employment Pass criteria. These changes are mainly focusing on the raising qualifying salary of the Employment Pass Application. Read more about the Employment Pass changes for 2022.
From September 2023, there will be a major revamp of the Employment Pass criteria. This is when the new Employment Pass Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) kicks in. All applications will have to score 40 points to be eligible for the application for Employment Pass. Check out our Beginner’s guide to the New COMPASS Requirements here.
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The employment pass usually takes 3 weeks to process upon submission. In certain cases like MOM additional document request or appeal submission, you need additional 3 – 5 weeks upon submission of the additional documents or appeal. For manual application, it can take up to 8 weeks to process.
From September 2022, the minimum salary for the new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will be raised from the current $4,500 to $5,000. As for those in the financial services sector, the minimum salary bar will be increased from $5,000 to $5,500.
Typically, you are only allowed to be the director of the company that sponsor your Employment Pass. If you want to a director of other company, you need to seek approval from the MOM and obtain a letter of consent.
Employment Pass is for salaried employee to work for a company while the entrepass is for business owner or entrepreneurs to run their business lawfully in Singapore..
Yes, you can apply for an Employment Pass only when your company is more than 6 month old. For newly incorporated company, you will need to apply for Singapore entrepass. Learn more about entrepass