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Singapore - Visas

If you are a commonwealth citizen travelling to a third country, have a valid passport and hold onward tickets, you may enter Singapore without a visa.

If you are going to visit Singapore for up to 30 days, and will not be undertaking any work, you will not need a Visa unless you are a national from: Afghanistan; Algeria; Bangladesh; Egypt; India; Iran; Central Asian states and Russia; Iraq; Jordan; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Myanmar; People’s Republic of China; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Somali; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; Yemen.

All visitors must have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into Singapore. When you leave, departure tax has been included in your air fare so no further tax payment is needed.

If you come in via the bus routes from Johor Bharu or Malaysia’s west coast, the buses will wait while the passengers go through immigration and customs checks.

If you wish to extend your trip, you must apply for official permission or you will receive a fine for staying without permission. Applications take at least a day to process, and will cost $40. You can can apply online at www.ica.gov.sq, or in person at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, 10 Kallang Road, 63916100 (near the Lavender Metro).

If you wish to work in Singapore, you must first find employment from abroad and must not enter Singapore to seek work. Employers must pay a foreign worker levy each month they employ someone from abroad, and can only take on staff from abroad under the quota levels for that type of work visa. The Singapore Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) expects employers to prove that they first considered local employees fairly for jobs, based on merit, with firms facing additional scrutiny and having work pass privileges curtailed if discriminatory hiring practices are found. All job vacancies must be open to locals, and the vacancy must be advertised on the jobs board administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for at least 14 days. Only after that process is undertaken can the employer apply for an Employment Pass for foreign nationals, and part of the process for the first application includes scrutiny of the business activities of the company.

Should you find employment, there are many different categories of work visa, and an application must be made, usually by the employer, for the correct one.

1.Visa Passes for Professionals

For professional and managerial work there are three types of Visas available; the Employment Pass, which itself has the three levels of P1, P2 and Q level; the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP); and the Entre-Pass.

Employment Pass (EP): For Professional Staff

This type of Visa has 3 categories, and the circumstances of each applicant must meet the strict criteria.

a.The P1 Visa

• Earns a minimum of S$8,000 per month
• Has academic and professional qualifications for the employment
• They may apply for Visas for their spouse and children, plus Visas for their parents if they earn more than S$10,000 per month, but no other relatives

b) The P2 Visa

• Earns a minimum of S$4,500 per month
• Has academic and professional qualifications for the employment
• They may apply for Visas for their spouse and children, but not their parents or other relatives

c) The Q1 Visa

• Earns a minimum of S$3,300 per month (S$3,600 from January 2017)
• Has academic and professional qualifications for the employment
• Must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $5,000 before they can apply for Visas for their spouse and children

Personalised Employment Pass (PEP): For High Earning Executives

• Last drawn monthly salary must be a minimum of S$18,000, or must previously have held a P1 Employment Pass and earned at least S$12,000 per month
• Once granted, holder must earn a minimum of S$144,000 per annum
• Issued once, for a term of 3 years; cannot be renewed
• The holder can move to a different employer without having to apply for a new pass
• Can stay in Singapore without employment for up to six months
• Not allowed to participate in entrepreneurial activities
• Can apply for Visas for their spouse, children (under 21 years of age) and parents

Entre-Pass: For Entrepreneurs

• For eligible foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start and operate a new business in Singapore
• Minimum share capital requirements
• Annual conditions to be met
• Annual business spend
• Assessed employment of Singapore citizens/Permanent Residents (PR)
• Initially a 2 year Visa, may be renewed
• Applicants must show evidence one of these four conditions have been met:
1) Receives investment from a recognised Venture Capitalist who is accredited by a Singapore Government agency
2) Holds an IP that is registered with a recognised national IP institution
3) Has ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognised by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore
4) Is an incubate at a Singapore Government-supported incubator
• Can apply for Visas for spouse and children if total business spending is at least S$150,00 and at least 4 local jobs have been created
• Can apply for Visas for parents if total business spending is at least S$300,000 and at least 8 local jobs have been created

2. Visa Passes for Skilled and Semi Skilled Staff

There are strict regulations about who can apply for these Visas, and it can be expensive for employers paying the monthly levy.

S Pass: For Skilled Staff

• For mid-level skilled staff
• Open to all nationalities
• Candidates need to earn at least S$2,200 a month
• Requires a degree or diploma
• Assessed on Point System using experience and qualifications
• Older applicants are expected to command higher salaries to qualify
• The number of S Pass holders a company can employ is capped at a Sub-Dependency Ceiling of 15% of the company's total workforce in the Services sector and 20% in the remaining sectors
• Not permitted for workers in hawker centres, coffee shops or food courts, as MOM states such enterprises are small scale and should be run by the owners and their family members
• Must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$4,000 to sponsor the stay of their spouse and children in Singapore

Work Permit for foreign worker

• For semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or services sector.
• Qualifications and certificates needed
• Only applicants from countries listed by MOM can be considered
• Applicants must be over 18; upper age limit depends on country of origin
• There are strict quota limits of foreign workers employed in ratio to local workers
• There are significant monthly levies to be paid by employers who take on staff under this Visa, assessed by country of origin and skill level
• MOM maintains a list of foreign worker dormitories licensed under the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act (FEDA)

Work Permit for foreign domestic worker

• For foreign domestic workers to work in Singapore
• Must be female
• Must be between the ages of 23 and 50 at the time of application
• From a MOM approved country only
• Minimum of 8 years of formal education, with certificates

Work Permit for foreign confinement nanny

• For Confinement nannies to work in Singapore for up to 16 weeks starting from the birth of the employer's child
• The baby must be less than four months old on application
• The nanny must be Malaysian
• The nanny must be between 23-70 years old at the time of application
• The nanny can only work at the employer’s home
• The employer pays an employment levy of S$60 a month for a local nanny but S$265 for a Malaysian nanny
• A medical checkup is advised and medical insurance of at least S$15,000 is recommended

Work permit for performing artiste

• For foreign performers working in entertainment outlets which hold a CAT1 Public Entertainment License such as bars, hotels and nightclubs
• Cannot apply for another work permit of any kind for one year after ceasing work as a performing artiste
• Quota for each employer

3. VISA Passes for Trainees and Students

There are three types of VISA available to trainees and students; the Training Employment Pass, the Work Holiday Programme Pass, and the Training Work Permit.

Training Employment Pass

• For foreign professionals
• Undergoing practical training
• Candidates must earn at least S$3,000 a month

Work Holiday Programme

• For students and graduates aged 18 to 25
• Who want to work and holiday in Singapore
• For up to 6 months

Training Work Permit

• For semi-skilled foreign trainees or students
• Undergoing practical training in Singapore
• For up to 6 months

4. Visa Passes for Family members

The ability of family members to apply for Visas to join their relatives in Singapore will depend upon the residency classification of the person already living in Singapore or given permission to do so, and their relationship to the applicant.

Dependant’s Pass: For spouses and children of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders.
Long Term Visitor Pass: For parents, common-law spouses, step-children or disabled children of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders.
Letter of Consent: For eligible LTVP/LTVP+ holders and Dependant's Pass holders who want to work in Singapore

5. Other Miscellaneous Visa Passes

There are four further categories under which the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will consider application: the Miscellaneous Work Pass, the Work Pass for Exempt Activities, the Work Pass Exemption for Foreign Students, and the Work Passes for holders of Long Term Visit Passes.

Miscellaneous Work Pass

• For foreigners taking on a short-term work assignment of up to 60 days in Singapore
• Examples include speakers at a Seminar, religious workers or journalists
• Must be sponsored by a Singapore based organisation or society

Work Pass Exempt Activities

• For performing eligible short-term activities without a work pass
• Candidates must still notify MOM of their activities
• For 60 days or less, no more than 90 days in one calendar year
• Arbitration, Exhibitions, Journalism, Location Filming, Fashion Shows, Performances, Special Services for new Plant etc, Seminars, Conferences, Sport and Tour Facilitation; they each have individual requirements which determine the activities you are permitted to undertake with this Work Pass

Work Pass Exemption for Foreign Students

• For foreign students studying full-time at a MOM approved school or institution in Singapore
• Must be at least 14 years of age
• Not permitted for exchange students doing study modules in Singapore

Work passes for holders of Long Term Visit Passes issued by ICA

• For foreigners married to a Singaporean or permanent resident
• or parents accompanying a child who is studying in Singapore

Your prospective employer will make the online application for the correct type of work Visa depending of the nature of your employment. They pay a S$30 application fee by GIRO, Visa, Mastercard or NETS. If it is their first work visa application, they must complete the business activity declaration. They must confirm that they have secured medical insurance for you and paid the security bond, then about a day later they will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter upon approval of your card. Your employer will pay a further S$30 for the card to be issued. The IPA letter is valid for six months and is needed to collect your Singapore ID card from MOM at the Employment Pass Service Centre (EPSC) upon your arrival in Singapore, where your fingerprints and photo will be processed.

Your Singapore ID card will show an FIN number and a SingPass eight-digit CPF-PAL PIN password. This enables you to log on to online Government services, for everything from completing your tax returns to reserving a library book.

Your visa will be valid for up to 2 years, unless your passport is not valid for that period; in which case it will expire 1 month before the expiry of your passport. If your security bond is valid for less than 26 months the work visa will expire 2 months before the bond’s expiry date. The card must be returned to MOM when it expires and you leave the country, or with a renewal.

If your employer offers you employment beyond the first two years and you accept, they must apply to renew your work visa about 6-8 weeks before your current visa expires. Your passport must be valid for at least a further 25 months; a scanned copy will be uploaded. They apply for the visa renewal online for a S$30 fee, confirming that they have checked the quota and extended both your security bond and medical insurance. The decision is immediate, and the notification letter should be printed. An address for delivery is supplied by the employer, with the passport numbers, mobile numbers and email addresses of at least three recipients authorised to receive the card 4 working days later. An SMS or email with delivery details will be sent at least one day before delivery, and the details can also be checked online.

If there is a need for delay, such as waiting for the arrival of a renewed passport, an extension must be applied for. If an employee is not eligible for renewal, an appeal can be made to MOM. If your visa is not renewed and it expires, yet you remain in the country, a fine is imposed.

It is difficult to achieve citizenship of Singapore, and dual citizenship is not permitted. Many people apply for Permanent Residence (PR), which gives you the right to live there and to apply for public housing, but not to vote. The native population of Singapore has been unhappy with recent levels of immigration, which has sometimes undermined wages (because low paid immigrants often receive poor packages of pay and conditions) and increased the cost of housing; in response, the Government is making PR harder to achieve.

The ability to speak English is not required, but voluntary work, tax records and many other factors are examined. The only people eligible to apply are:

• The spouse and children (under the age of 21) of a Singapore Citizen or PR
• The aged parents of a Singapore Citizen
• P, Q or S work pass holders working in Singapore
• Investors and Entrepreneurs
• Foreigners who satisfy certain guidelines can apply for PR by submitting applications through SMC Management Consultants Pte Ltd who are based in Singapore

Permanent Residence (PR) allows an individual to reside in Singapore for a period of 5 years, which is then subject to renewal. Any person who is working in Singapore on a Work Pass is eligible to submit an application, but recent tightening of immigration into Singapore has made the PR application process more selective and lengthy. Another route of obtaining PR is through investment in Singapore through the Global Investor Programme, which has two Investment options:

• Option A: Invest at least S$2.5mil in a new business entity or to expand an existing business operation.
• Option B: Invest at least S$2.5mil in a GIP fund that invests in Singapore based companies.

The government maintains a list of pre-approved GIP funds. One of the key conditions is that the investor’s company must have an average turnover of at least $50 million over the last 3 years, which becomes S$200 million if operating in the real estate or construction industry.

Before applying for PR, be aware of all the conditions. For example, all male citizens start a two-year period of National Service at the age of 18, with only 14 days’ leave a year. They are then liable to enlistment in a national emergency until they reach 40 (or 50 as commissioned officers). The male children of those with PR, who are resident in Singapore and are therefore seen by the Government as having received benefit from living there, are also bound by these requirements.

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