How long will my work pass (EP, S-Pass, WP) application take

There have been numerous discussions and questions recently about the time needed to process a work pass application.
For the benefit of those inquirers - and to avoid multiple threads about the same topic - I would like to explain the process in detail here:

First, let me say that MoM does not disclose their actual internal processes, so the following is based on circumstantial evidence and observations by some users here (mainly Surya and me), plus what other users post about their own application process and results - so please come back here and post yours, to improve the information available on this site.

Furthermore, MoM is a law unto itself - and has the right to do whatever they want, including deviating from their own rules and publications. It is their game, their court and their ball. If you don't like this, don't apply!

That said, the following are guidelines that apply in most (but not all) cases. In addition, it is the status as of now (Apr.2018) and things can and do change.

1. A Singapore work pass can only be applied for by a Singapore-registered employer willing to hire you. They must submit the offer letter (accepted by you) and full job and salary details. They cannot apply before this is settled.

2. The employer has to cover all work pass application fees (and if they engage an agent to help with the formalities, also the agent's fees - Please note that an agent alone CANNOT apply for a Singapore work pass!). They are not allowed to charge the job seeker for it. Thus all Singapore work passes are free of charge for the job seeker!

3. On submission of an application, MoM first performs a rough check if the application can be entered into the process. The submission will be rejected if
- the application is not complete (e.g. missing documents or information), or
- the job seeker already has another work pass application running

4. If this check is positive, the application is entered into the system. This means a FIN number is issued (and the employer informed of this) or an existing FIN of the job seeker re-used and the application entered into the EPOnline system with status "pending". It may take a week or so until this is done.

5. Next, the officer in charge will check whether the employer is allowed and able to hire foreigners:
- Is the industry strategically allowed to hire foreigners (e.g. due to a lack of local workforce)?
- Is the company banned or had problems with foreign employees in the past?
- Do they have a viable business model and can pay the offered salary?
- Does the employer have space for you in their foreigner quota (S-Pass and WP only)?
- Was the job posted on the jobs bank for two weeks, with no suitable local applying?
During this stage, MoM may ask for additional documents from the company, and process will resume only on their submission. If MoM then decides negatively, the application is rejected without further checks. This stage may take 1 - 3 weeks, depending on the workload of the officer in charge.

6. After this, your personal credentials are checked:
- Are your submitted certificates recognised and correct? MoM may (at their discretion) engage external agencies (e.g. in your home country and elsewhere) for the verifications, which by itself takes 2 - 12 weeks (the timing is out of MoM's control) and can be seen by your EPOnline status changed to "pending input from vetting agencies".
- Is your background (education and work experience) suitable for the job offered? (Note: It is basically impossible to get a work pass without experience in a similar job.)
- Is there a strategic interest (and benefits) for Singapore to have you working here?
- And, last but not least, is the offered salary within the market norms for this job in Singapore? You will be rejected if you earn too little or too much!
Again, additional documents and information may be requested during this stage (e.g. a justification why the employer wants to hire you and no other candidate). If not, this may take 1 - 3 weeks.

7. If all these checks are positive, MoM will approve your application, inform the employer of this and send an IPA (In Principle Approval) letter to them. The IPA is your visa to enter Singapore, so you should travel within its validity (usually a month). In exceptional circumstances, the IPA validity can be extended by up to a month (the employer must apply for this). If the IPA expires and you didn't travel yet, you lost your chance to work on this job!

8. After your arrival, a health check is required in most cases. This is mentioned in the IPA.

9. Then MoM will issue the actual work pass (usually on the spot or within a day) and you can start work.

From submission to start of work, you should realistically plan for at least two months, but this can be shorter or longer depending on many factors nobody can foresee.

Some additional notes:
- MoM rarely discloses any rejection reasons, but sometimes the wording in the rejection letter gives a hint. E.g. "This candidate is not eligible for a work pass, please look for another candidate" means you have no chance of getting any work pass at all, often due to misconduct in the past (MoM has a very long memory and good databases!).
- A rejection can be appealed against by the employer. For this to be successful, additional information must be included that alleviate the rejection reason. If the reason is not known, it may help for the employer to arrange a personal meeting with the officer in charge. You may come along to such a meeting.
- If the appeal also has been rejected, the decision is final and you cannot work on this job in Singapore.
- An appeal process can take as long or longer than the original application.
- In some, rare cases where the employer has very strong reasons for you to start work before the application process is completed, they can request a temporary work pass from MoM.
- In all other cases, there is nothing you can do to accelerate the process. MoM takes as long as Mom takes - and all you can do is wait. There is no point asking on this forum how long it will take, or complaining about it!
- You or the employer can, however, at any time cancel the application for any reason. This of course ends your attempt to workj in Singapore.

Good luck! (Yes, al lot depends on this, too!)

how to know if youre certificates are recognized by MOM? is it in the SAT that when this ask for which  univesity or college you graduate the options will come and you just click your school?

New topic