Singapore Employment Pass

Singapore, known for its good quality of life and very healthy business environment attracts a large number of foreign professionals and international businesses who set their base in Singapore. However, before relocating to the country an individual must be aware of the work passes and visas that are available in Singapore.  This article will discuss the main work pass scheme called Employment Pass that is applicable to foreign professionals who wish to work in a managerial, executive or specialized role in Singapore companies.

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Foreign professionals relocating to work in Singapore require an Employment Pass (EP) which is one of several types of work passes. The Ministry of Manpower, the government agency that manages the labor and employment policies in Singapore has specified eligibility criteria and an application process that foreign professionals must follow.

What is an Employment Pass?

An Employment Pass is a work visa that allows foreign professionals who have a job offer in Singapore to relocate and work in Singapore in a professional, managerial or executive role. The EP is valid for up to 2 years and can be renewed for a period of 3 years. Once a candidate obtains the EP he or she can work, stay and travel freely in and out of Singapore.

Eligibility Criteria

The following are the eligibility criteria for applying for an EP:

  1. The candidate must have a job offer from a Singapore company or firm;
  2. The application for the EP must be for a managerial, executive, professional, or specialized role;
  3. The minimum fixed monthly salary of the candidate must be S$3,600 and
  4. The candidate must have acceptable qualifications as outlined by the MOM. This implies that the candidate must have a good university degree, some special skill or a professional qualification.

Advertising the Vacant Position

Before applying for EP, Singapore companies must advertise the vacant position on Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s Jobs Bank for at least 14 calendar days. This requirement is in line with the Fair Consideration Framework which guarantees fair employment practices in the country.

Employers need not advertise the position in any of the following cases:

  1. If the company has 25 or fewer employees.
  2. The monthly salary for the position is S$12,000 or more.
  3. The job is applicable to intra-corporate transferee (ICTs) such as persons holding a senior position in a company who are highly experienced.
  4. The period of employment does not exceed one month.

Application process

How to Apply?

A candidate (a foreign professional) cannot apply for the EP. The employer hiring the professional or an employment agency has the authority to apply for the pass. The MOM outlines steps for the EP which need to be followed:

  1. Submit the application either manually or online to the MOM along with a written consent from the candidate.
  2. On approval of the application, the MOM will issue an in-principle approval letter.
  3. On receipt of the letter, the candidate must come to Singapore within 6 months.
  4. The EP must be issued within 6 months of the in-principle letter.
  5. Register the candidate’s fingerprint and photo on the issuance of the EP.
  6. After verification, the MOM will deliver the card to the address mentioned in the application.

The application procedure can be completed either online or manually. However, the timeline for processing of the EP differs slightly in the two cases with the later taking 1-2 weeks longer.

Documents required

When applying for the EP the employer or agent must submit copies of the candidate’s following documents:

  1. Personal particulars page of candidate’s passport,
  2. The business profile of the company, and
  3. Academic certificates of the candidate.
A document not available in English must be translated to English.

The Ministry of Manpower requires additional documents for candidates who wish to work as lawyers, football players or coaches, health care professionals, regional representatives of overseas companies, and employees in a food establishment. You can find details of the documents required for these candidates here.

Self-assessment of your application

The MOM has set out a Self Assessment Tool by which a candidate can assess the probability of him or her getting the EP. The result (positive or negative) is a good indication for the candidate to understand the outcome of the application.

Rejection and Renewal of the Pass


If a candidate’s EP is rejected the employer or the agent can appeal the rejection. The appeal must be made within 3 months of an unsuccessful application and only after the reason for rejection is resolved.


The employer or the employment agent can apply for the renewal of the EP. The EP can be renewed for up to a period of 3 years. If the employer applies for renewal:

  1. Through EP online, the application can be submitted 6 months before the EP expires.
  2. Manually, the application can be submitted 3 months before the EP expires.

The MOM must receive the renewal application at least 2 weeks before the expiry of the EP. The MOM will review the application according to the eligibility requirements (as on that date) and issue the EP accordingly.

Notifying Changes to the MOM

The employer (and in certain cases the EP holder) must notify the MOM of any changes to the EP. These include a change in EP holder’s salary, change in company name or address, change in EP holder’s residential address or personal details, etc.

The timeline within which one must inform the MOM differs according to the changes in the EP.

Passes for Family of the EP holder

An EP holder can bring his or her family member to stay in Singapore if the monthly salary of the holder is S$5,000. A family member includes an EP holder’s:

  1. Legally married spouse;
  2. Unmarried children under the age of 21;
  3. Legally adopted children;
  4. Common-law spouse;
  5. Unmarried handicapped children above the age of 21;
  6. Unmarried stepchildren under the age of 21 and
  7. Parents

A family member of the EP holder can either come on the Dependant’s Pass or the Long Term Visit Pass to Singapore.

Final Thoughts


  1. What is an Employment Pass?
  2. Eligibility Criteria
  3. Advertising the Vacant Position
  4. Application process
  5. Rejection and Renewal of the Pass
  6. Notifying Changes to the EP
  7. Passes for Family of the EP holder
  8. Next Steps


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