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Singapore - Work Permits

In order to legally work in Singapore, you will need a “Work Pass.” This is the equivalent of a work visa in other countries. You will find that work passes come in various categories. These categories depend on your qualifications but there are three main ones that are normally used: Employment Pass (P1, P2, Q1), S Pass, and Work Permit. There is also a “semi-approved” work pass called an Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC). The official government body that processes, approves and rejects the work passes is the Ministry of Manpower. You can find the following information, as well as additional information and forms, on their website at

To get a work pass, your employer must apply for one for you. Rather than applying for a work pass and then finding the job, you must first find a job and have the employer apply for the work pass for you on your behalf. They will fill out the application for you and submit it along with the proper documentation, like your passport. It is illegal to hire foreigners without valid work passes and employers who do so can be prosecuted under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

Once the employer files the application, they should hear back in about 2 weeks. If the pass was approved, an “In-Principle Approval Letter” is sent. This isn’t the actual work pass but must be brought, along with original documentation, to the Ministry of Manpower’s office to get the pass. The letter will include your Foreign Identification Number (FIN) which is similar to a local’s NRIC, UK’s national identity number, and the United States’ social security number.

When you visit the Ministry of Manpower’s office, you’ll need to take the proper documentation with you. This includes:

· The original Notification Letter
· The original travel document and the old travel document, if any
· Online Foreign Worker Address System (OFWAS) printout reflecting the updated residential address
· A letter of authorisation signed by the employer, indicating both the foreigner's and representative's particulars (applicable if a representative is coming on the employer’s behalf.) The representative must also bring an official identification document that shows his/her name, NRIC/travel document number and photo-image, for verification at the point of card collection.

Along with the documentation, you’ll also have to have a medical examination. This can be scheduled at most clinics but you’ll need a chest x-ray as part of it.

On your first visit to the office, you will turn in your documents. When you go back, generally in a few days, you’ll pick up your work pass and your passport. At this time, you will also pay your fees. Different work passes have different fees.

Employers should reimburse employees for medical examinations and fees associated with the work pass. It’s therefore important to hang onto your receipts.

There are several different kinds of passes available. These include:

Employment Pass: This pass is available for professionals who will earn at least $3,000 and have the proper qualifications. An employer will apply for the pass and any changes will require a new application.

Personalized Employment Pass: The PEP is for those who already possess an Employment Pass and foreign professional workers. The PEP is based on the employee’s qualifications and is not tied to an employer. An individual who has a PEP may remain in Singapore for as long as 6 months in between positions to look for more work. To qualify for a PEP, you must be an overseas professional whose last salary was at least $18,000 per month or a P1 pass holder who earned a minimum monthly salary of $12,000.

Entre Pass: This pass is for those who wish to enter Singapore and start their own business.

S Pass: For mid-level skilled individuals who earn at least $2,000 per month. The employer must file for this pass for their employee. The applications are assessed based on the employee’s work experience, salary, skills, education, and job type.

Work Permit: These are usually issued to unskilled workers and last for two years. The employee may only work for the employer and the specified occupation. Work permits might be issued to performing artists, nannies, and domestic helpers.

Dependents Pass: Those who hold an Employment Pass and some S Passes can apply for passes for their legally married spouses and their legal children under the age of 21.

Long-Term Visits Pass: An Employment Pass holder can apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass for their step-children, handicapped children over the age of 21, and their common-law spouses. In addition, children with an Employment Pass can apply for a pass for their parents.

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