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Employment Pass in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide to Application and Criteria

Navigating the Employment Pass Process in Singapore

Embark on a journey through the intricate world of the Singapore Employment Pass (EP), a pivotal instrument for global talent seeking to engage in the thriving business ecosystem of Singapore. This guide is crafted to serve as your navigational tool in understanding and leveraging the EP for your professional aspirations.

Key Highlights of Our Employment Pass Guide:

What is an Employment Pass?

An Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore is a type of work visa specifically designed for foreign professionals who wish to work in Singapore. It's issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and is primarily aimed at skilled foreign professionals, managers, executives, and specialists looking to contribute to Singapore's dynamic economy. Here's what you need to know:

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Key Features of Employment Pass (EP)

Eligibility Criteria for an Employment Pass in Singapore?

As of September 1, 2023, new EP applicants must meet the Employment Pass Qualifying Salary and pass the COMPASS assessment framework. This framework enhances clarity about EP eligibility criteria and aims to improve the quality of EP candidates in Singapore.

COMPASS EMPLOYMENT PASS

Employment Pass (EP) Qualifying Salary (Stage 1)

Applicants must first meet the minimum Qualifying Salary for Employment Pass. The Minimum Qualifying Salary is benchmarked based on the applicant’s sector and age. Those who are older and in the high-paying industry will have to meet higher qualifying salaries. 

COMPASS (Stage 2)

The COMPASS system uses a point-driven approach to assess EP applicants based on criteria such as salary, qualifications, diversity, and support for local employment. Applicants need to score a total of 40 points within the Foundational Criteria to pass this stage.

*C1. Salary
(Individual)
Fixed monthly salary compared to local PMET salaries in sector by age
Points**C2. Qualification
(Individual)
Based on candidate's qualifications
Points
≥ 90th percentile20Top-tier institution
20
65th to < 90th percentile
10Degree-equivalent qualification
10
< 65th percentile
0No 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%
1020th 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.

Foundational Criteria:

This is the primary set of criteria that applicants and companies must meet. It consists of two subcategories:

A. Applicant Criteria:

  • C1 – Salary
  • C2 – Qualification

Points can be scored ranging from 0 to 20 for each criterion.

B. Company Criteria:

  • C3: Diversity
  • C4. Support for Local Employment

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:

  • If applicants don’t reach the required 40 points in the Foundational Criteria, they can earn additional points through the Bonus Criteria.
  • Applicants can score between 10 to 30 additional points in this category.


Exemptions from COMPASS
:

Applicants can be exempted from COMPASS is they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Earn a fixed salary of 22,500 SGD per month;
  • Apply Employment Pass as an Overseas intra-corporate transferee
  • Period of employment in Singapore is less than 1 month.

** Exemptions from COMPASS: Some applicants may be exempted from COMPASS based on specific conditions.

Tips for Navigating COMPASS

    • Align your workforce with COMPASS standards

 

    • Promote diversity and support local talent.

 

    • Seek professional guidance for a smooth COMPASS journey.

 

Don’t leave your COMPASS journey to chance; leverage the expertise of professionals to navigate confidently and achieve your objectives. Get More Employment Pass COMPASS Tips.

The FCF aims to ensure fair hiring practices in Singapore, promoting equal opportunities regardless of gender, age, nationality, or race. Employers must advertise job openings on the national job portal, jobsbank, for at least 28 days before applying for an EP or S-Pass.

Employers must now advertise their job under the national job portal, jobsbank, for at least 28 days before they can proceed with the application process for an employment pass or S-Pass.

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Who are exempted from Advertising

All locally registered companies in Singapore must practice fair hiring unless they are exempted from the requirements. You are exempted from advertising on MyCareersFuture if your company fulfills any of the following criteria:

** 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.

What are the documents I need for the application of an Employment Pass in Singapore?

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. 

Singapore Employment Pass Application & Processing time

You can submit your EP application online or manually. Online applications typically take 3 weeks, while manual applications take 8 weeks. We recommend online applications to avoid delays.

We would strongly recommend Online application as manual application can lead to delays to your application and further complication when submitting additional documents.

Employment Pass Status

Employment Pass Status You’ll receive an update from MOM within 2 weeks after your first submission. If necessary, you may be asked for additional documents to assess your case.

 

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

MOM additional documents request typically happens when your company is new or does not have enough financial in its records to prove that you have the revenue to sponsor a work visa holder. However, there can also be other reasons that are linked to the applicant’s credentials 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.

Appeal for Employment Pass (EP) Rejection

At this stage, you had probably submitted an EP application or an appeal for your employment pass application but your EP application is still rejected. There can be many reasons for rejection for an EP application but you should not be worried if you have a strong case. You can always appeal against a rejection if you have a strong reason why the EP  application should not be rejected.

You can submit your appeal on the Employment Pass Online portal via the employer or authorised third-party Employment Agencies 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 seek 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 no point in wasting your chance on an appeal. Always seek a professional Employment Agent’s help if you are unsure of how to proceed with your appeal.

Passes for the family members of Employment Pass holder

As employment pass holders, you are only allowed to sponsor your direct family members such as 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 on a long term visit pass.

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

Parents
(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

Overseas Sponsorship case for Employment Pass in Singapore

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 in Singapore, 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. 

Issuance and Collection of EP

When your Employment Pass in Singapore 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 In Principle Approval letter, you are usually given 3 – 6 months to complete the Employment Pass  collection process. If your In Principle Approval letter is going to expire, you can request for a one-time extension with the MOM.

Your company or Employment 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 at the Employment Pass Service Centre for you to complete the formality of issuing your work pass. 

Employment Pass Vs. Entrepass

Under the Singapore Work Visa scheme,  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 can apply for Employment Pass instead. See below for a detailed comparison between Employment Pass and Entrepass.

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EntrepassEmployment Pass (EP)
Company RequirementsMust be new company setup < 6 monthsNo requirement for how long the company has been established
Business ActivitiesA business plan is enough as proof of businessNeed concrete business activities as proof of ongoing business
Salary RequirementNo salary requiredNeed to be paid a minimum monthly salary
Main Evaluation CriteriaInnovative 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 criteriaNeed 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 Time8 – 12 weeks3 – 8 weeks
Dependant Pass EligibilityMust 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 ValidityIssued for 12 months and can be renewed on a 12 month basisIssued for 12 – 24 months and can be renewed for 24 to 36 months.

Employment Pass Renewal

EPs are typically granted for 12 – 24 months and can be renewed for up to 36 months. To renew your EP, follow these steps:

Important changes to notify MOM

There are certain changes that you should notify MOM. See below for details all the changes that you are required to update MOM:

Cancellation of Employment Pass

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.

Pathway to Singapore Permanent Residency

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.

Key Updates for Employment Pass 2022 / 2023

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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frequently asked questions

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.

No, quota only applies to S-Pass or Work Permit but you are required to justify substantially why there is a need for the applicant.
For new application, you are granted 12 – 24 months. For renewals, 12 – 36 months.
There is no official figure for the rejection rate but as long as you have a valid reason for hiring the applicant with fair hiring practice, you should be able to get approval.

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.

The EP is assessed based on a wide range of criteria. As long as your company has financial ability and genuine reason to hire the applicant and the applicant has the right credential, you are able to obtain the approval for an EP with the right set of documents the strengthen your case. However, when Foreign Manpower policies keep changing, it is always important to seek someone professional for you . Contact us today for free assessment.

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

Am I Eligible for an Employment Pass?

Under the New COMPASS Framework, you need to score 40 points to pass the EP requirement.
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