So you’ve nailed the interview and the last hurdle is for your Employment Pass (EP) to be approved. Here’s what you need to know about obtaining an EP pass in Singapore.
What is an Employment Pass (EP)?
All foreign workers need the correct working visa to live and work in Singapore. The EP is issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to foreign professionals, specialists, managers and company directors.
Your first EP will be valid for two years, and is the first step to applying for Permanent Residence (PR) status later down the line.
EP holders can also apply for a Dependant Pass (DP) or Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) for family members to enter Singapore, as long as your salary is above $6000 per month.
Do I qualify for an EP?
Getting an EP has become more difficult, and MOM has raised the eligibility bar for approvals. That being said, you are eligible to apply for an EP if you can meet the following criteria:
- You must have a concrete job offer in Singapore
- Your position must be of a senior-level managerial or specialist role (meaning one that requires the company to hire an expat instead of someone from the local talent pool within Singapore).
- You must be earning at least S$3,900 per month as a fixed salary. This applies to new graduates (ideally from MOM’s list of recognised universities). The more experience you have, the higher the salary requirement is for an EP approval.
- MOM will be looking for your professional qualifications and specialist skills, to be from a reputable university. You can view the list of acceptable institutions via the MOM website here (exceptions may apply).
In true Singapore style, MOM has made it easy for you to check your eligibility via an online Self Assessment Tool. This handy tools gives you an idea on how you fare against MOM’s criteria.
What if the Self Assessment Tool states I’m not eligible?
MOM does still approve certain applications as exceptional cases, where niche, high-value skills can be demonstrated. In such cases, you or your employer will need to demonstrate the following:
- Your solid career track record.
- How your specialist skills will contribute towards the Singapore economy.
- If you don’t have qualifications you can still be approved for an EP, if other criteria such as your work experience and skills can add value to the Singapore economy.
- If your salary is high enough it may help offset shortfalls in other criteria.
Who will apply for my EP?
Your new employer or their appointed employment agency will make your application on your behalf.
All applications are made online via the EP Online portal.
What documents do I need to provide?
You will need to prepare clear copies of the following documents in English:
- Your passport (photo and personal particulars page).
- Any educational certificates and other membership certifications.
- Your resume containing a detailed description of your experience, job duties, employment dates and previous salary.
- Your written consent to give your company/employment agency permission to apply for your EP.
- Testimonials/references from past employers may be requested and can help strengthen your application.
- You may be asked for a recent passport-size photograph of yourself.
- Passport details for any family members you wish to include as your dependants.
In addition to the above, your hiring company will need to provide their latest business profile.
MOM may request additional documents and verifications, such as payslips.
What other considerations are there?
MOM will also review your employer as a business. They may assess your new company in terms of:
- Staffing ratios between expats and locals
- Proportion of local Singaporeans in the workforce V’s the industry average
- Contributions to the Singapore economy and society
- Stability of the business to hire expats
- Proof of attempts to fill the position using local talent pools
What is the processing time?
It can take a few days to weeks for your EP to be approved. The length of time depends on the assessment time needed to review your company’s background, as well as vetting your qualifications and assessing your supporting documents.
How will I know if I’m approved?
MOM sends an In-Principle-Approval (IPA) letter to your hiring company, which is valid for six months from date of issue.
Once you arrive in Singapore, you will need to present your passport, IPA letter, and any other supporting documents stipulated in your IPA letter at immigration. You will then be issued with a one-time entry visa, so you can enter Singapore and complete your EP formalities.
A medical test may be required before you can collect your EP. Such requirements will be stated in your IPA letter.
You can collect DP/LTVP passes for your family (if you applied) at the same time as collecting your EP pass.
If my EP gets rejected, is it possible to appeal?
MOM may be able to provide reasons for their rejections, in which case you may be able to appeal their decision, if you can provide further documents to support your application.
Appeals can take a few weeks to process. Once MOM is satisfied with the additional documentary proof, an approval can be granted.
Can I renew my EP?
Your employer or their employment agency can apply for your EP renewal, three months before your existing EP expires.
If your renewal application is approved, your employer will receive an approval letter, stating further directions (if any).
You can find out more about obtaining an Employment Pass via the MOM website.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section.