All About Work Permits and Passes in Singapore

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Managing the Global Workforce in Singapore

 

The idea of the globalized workforce is no longer new. Throughout the world, many urban centres have become hotspots for international talent seeking employment with multi-national organizations in local, regional, or global roles. 

Singapore is among the most coveted destinations, not just for Asian workers, but people from all over the world. Professionals and skilled workers alike across industries are drawn by Singapore’s modern facilities, desirable work conditions, cultural diversity, and overall high standard of living.

However, Singapore is a geographically small city-state. The SG government must address the unique challenge of giving local Singaporeans as much employment opportunity as possible, while also meeting the needs of organizations that require foreign talent. Every company has a Foreign Worker Quota, or ceiling for the number of foreign workers they can employ. To help companies ensure they hire only the best talent within their quota, the SG government has in place strict yet fair regulations to screen non-locals applying for work in Singapore.

Work permits and work passes in Singapore

All Singaporean and Singapore-based companies must secure a legal document for each of their foreign workers most commonly referred to as a “work visa” or “employment visa”. Locally, this document is called a work permit or pass. In the Singaporean context, these two terms refer to different categories of work visas:

Work Permit

The term “permit” applies to skilled and semi-skilled workers. Work Permits allow such foreign workers from a pre-approved list of countries to work in certain industries in Singapore, including construction, manufacturing, services, processing, and shipping.

Work Pass

The term “pass” on the other hand tends to apply to more specialized work. Passes are for skilled workers who meet a particular minimum salary, as well as higher-tier workers such as managers, executives, and professionals. 

These two general categories are further subdivided into more types of permits and passes.

Considerations for Employers Applying for Work Passes and Permits

As an employer, you must take the time to understand the following key considerations, as these will affect your eligibility to hire foreign workers, as well as each worker’s eligibility to come to Singapore: 

Your foreign worker quota

As earlier mentioned, every company has its own foreign worker quota that can be calculated based on their industry. Quotas also have corresponding levies or fines that employers must see to - this helps the SG government regulate the number of workers coming into the country.

The type of pass/permit your talent needs

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) outlines 6 categories of Work Passes, with each having several sub-types depending on specific types of work (including training and study), salary bands, and projected lengths of stay. Foreign workers’ families are also taken into account in these categories. Skip this section and see the "Types of Work Passes and Permits" section below for more.

Application eligibility

In spite of the possibility that your organization has open roles and the space to hire foreign workers in your quota, this does not mean that you will be able to hire just anyone. Each pass or permit applicant must meet minimum requirements set by the Singaporean government. They - through you as their employer - must submit documentary requirements to show that they are indeed qualified for the role they are taking. 

Document verification proof

As an added layer of security, the MOM requires that certain documents submitted must also be verified genuine.

As a specific example, an application for an Employment Pass or E Pass (for professional, managerial, and executive work) requires that the applicant’s educational qualifications are verified by MOM-accredited bodies to ensure that their credentials are authentic, as are the institutions that awarded them.

Veremark is an MOM-approved provider that can help your organization with educational verification

Exemptions

There are also exemptions for certain types of short-term work, such as religious workers, foreign speakers, or journalists. Refer to the Exemptions list here for more details.

Types of Work Passes and Permits

Below is the summary of work passes and permits for various roles:

Professionals

  • Employment Pass (E Pass or EP) - For foreign professionals, managers and executives
  • EntrePass - For foreign entrepreneurs starting a venture-backed or innovation-led business in Singapore
  • Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) - For high-earning Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals; this type offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass
  • Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass - For talent in business, arts and culture, sports, and academia and research

Skilled and semi-skilled workers

  • S Pass - For skilled workers who will earn at least 3,150 Singapore dollars a month.
  • Work Permit for Migrant Worker - For skilled and semi-skilled workers in construction, manufacturing, shipping, processing and service industries
  • Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker - For migrant domestic workers
  • Work Permit for Confinement Nanny - For Malaysian confinement nannies to work in Singapore for up to 16 weeks starting from the birth of the employer's child
  • Work Permit for Performing Artiste - For performers in public entertainment outlets such as bars, hotels, and nightclubs

Trainees and students

  • Training Employment Pass - For foreign professionals undergoing practical training
  • Work Holiday Pass under Work Holiday Programme - For students and graduates aged 18 to 25 who want to work and holiday in Singapore for 6 months
  • Work Holiday pass under Work and Holiday Visa Programme - For Australian students and graduates aged 18 to 30 who want to work and holiday in Singapore for 1 year
  • Training Work Permit - For semi-skilled foreign trainees or students undergoing practical training in Singapore for up to 6 months

There are also Family Member passes and Exemptions - learn more on the SG MOM website

Conclusion

Securing a work permit or pass for your foreign employees to be able to enter in Singapore is a standard process undertaken by many employers. The application is stringent and designed to ensure employers bring in only the best talent into Singapore. Ensure that you understand not just the Work Permit or Work Pass type that your employees need, but also the application requirements and verification proofs needed to ensure a smooth and successful application for your workers. 

Veremark is an accredited partner of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower and can verify your overseas candidate’s educational records. Contact us to learn about how we can assist you with education background checks and other background checks your company may require.

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FAQs

What is an Employment Pass?

An Employment Pass or EP is a type of work visa specifically for foreign professionals, managers, and executives who earn at least $5,000 monthly and have passed the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).

What is an S Pass in Singapore?

An S Pass is a work visa granted by the Ministry of Manpower to foreign skilled workers in Singapore. The eligibility criteria include having a job offer and a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,150.

How can Veremark help with an Employment Pass application?

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has a strict system in place to ensure the authenticity of the applicant’s qualifications. Veremark is a MOM-accredited background screening agency that can provide the verification proofs - such as education verification and institution accreditation checks, needed to apply for Employment Pass.

FAQs

What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

Transform your hiring process

Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

MOM education verification: a guide for all employers

A guide for all employers in Singapore

Singapore’s booming economy entices thousands of overseas professionals to its shores every year. Its role as the financial hub in Asia, and its ability to weather the storms of the global financial crisis and the COVID pandemic has seen its popularity rise.

Regarded as a safe country, with a stable economy and no foreign debt - Singapore is prosperous, peaceful, and innovative. Widely regarded as an attractive place to work, almost half the population of the island are immigrants.

With this influx of talent, the country has had to make adjustments to the way it accepts new workers from abroad. In this guide we’ll explore the rise of Singapore as a desirable place to live and work, the problems it has faced with this rise in interest from international visitors, and new regulations that all employers in Singapore need to know about.

This guide explores:

- Singapore's foreign worker problem and the rise of diploma fraud

- The requirements needed to work in Singapore as a employee from overseas

- The new regulations introduced by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

- Third-party verification on education credentials

- New two-stage eligibility framework (Salary + COMPASS)

- MOM's collaboration with Veremark

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