Work permits in Singapore

Work visas for Singapore
Updated 2022-06-01 09:29

As an expat, you must have a job to pay for your rent, bills, and leisure activities. But you can't just move to Singapore and get a job right away. Instead, all foreigners must have a valid work pass (work visa or work permit) before they start their jobs.

There are four types of work passes available: professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers, trainees and students, and family members of work pass holders.

Professional Work Passes

Many foreigners seek work opportunities in Singapore. However, as you might've already guessed, there's a wide range of industries and positions, which means there are different professional work passes you can apply for.

Employment Pass

The Employment Pass is intended for foreign professionals, as well as managers and executives. Seeing as these are high-level positions, the work pass requires that candidates earn at least S$4,500 a month (S$5,000 in the financial services sector; this amount is also higher if you're older) and also have considerable qualifications, such as a degree from a reputable university or specialized skills.

In addition, before they're able to hire a foreigner, employers must show that they've exhausted all their local options through MyCareerseFuture. Only then can they sponsor a foreigner for an Employment Pass; the employer or an appointed employment agent needs to apply for you.

If you're a first-time candidate, this work pass is valid for up to two years. You can renew it for up to three years. There's also no foreign work levy or quota.


The EntrePass is for foreign entrepreneurs who are eligible. They must be willing to start a Singaporean business that's venture-backed. Or you can have innovative technologies that'll benefit the country. Either way, your business must be registered with ACRA. If you've already registered, the company must be less than six months old.

There are some entrepreneur, innovator, and innovative investor criteria you should meet. While they're not all required to get an EntrePass, the more you have, the better for your application.

You can apply directly for the EntrePass, and there's no minimum salary required, seeing as you're an entrepreneur.

The EntrePass is good for one year and you can renew for two years at a time. Like with the Employment Pass, there's no foreign work levy or quota.

Personalized Employment Pass

This work pass is similar to the Employment Pass but is for those who already have that pass and are high earners. You can also be an overseas foreign professional. You must earn at least S$12,000 a month as a current EP holder or at least S$18,000 a month as an overseas foreign professional (last drawn fixed monthly salary must be within six months before your application).

You can apply for the Personalized Employment Pass yourself, and it's good for up to three years and isn't renewable. No foreign worker levy or quota is required here either.

Do note that you can't have been unemployed in Singapore for more than six months at a time while holding the work pass. You'll need to also earn a fixed salary of at least S$144,000 per year.

Skilled and Semi-Skilled Workers Passes

Not every foreigner will be a C-level executive or manager. So most expats will be interested in the skilled and semi-skilled workers passes.

Below are the options available to you.

S Pass

The S Pass is like the EP, but for mid-level skilled staff. You must earn at least S$2,500 a month (more if you're older) and have a degree or diploma. In some cases, the government will allow technical certificates. If this applies, it should have at least one year of full-time study. In addition, you must have relevant work experience.

Your employer or an appointed employment agent has to apply for the S Pass on your behalf. And if you change jobs, you'll need your new employer to apply for a new S Pass. Otherwise, this work pass is good for up to two years. Your employer can renew it for up to three years.

Here, employers are subject to a quota and levy for S Pass holders.

Work Permit for Migrant Worker

This work pass is for migrant workers in the industries of manufacturing, construction, marine shipyard, process, or services. Your employer or appointed employment agent must apply for the permit for you.

There's no minimum salary required to get this work permit. Once approved, it's good for up to two years, depending on your passport, employment period, and security bond. It can also usually be renewed for two years.

There's a quota dependent on the employer's industry. They also have to pay a monthly levy for each worker.

Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker

If you wish to work as a domestic helper, then this is the work pass you should get. You'll need either an employer, sponsor, or authorized employment agent to apply on your behalf.

To qualify, you must be female and be between the ages of 23 to 50 during the application. If you're over the age of 50, you can only keep renewing your work pass until you're 60. You'll also need at least eight years of formal education with a Singapore-recognized certificate. You can't work for someone you're related to, and you must work at an NRIC-registered address.

In addition, you must be from the following approved countries/regions: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand.

There's no qualifying salary associated with the Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker. It's valid for up to two years, and you can renew for up to two years.

Work Permit for Confinement Nanny

This work permit is only for Malaysians. It's a short-term permit that only allows you to stay up to 16 weeks (starting from the birth of the child). Your employer or appointed employment agent needs to apply for this permit for you.

To be eligible, you must be a Malaysian who's between the ages of 23 and 70. The employer must be at least 21 years, have a baby under four months old, and pay a monthly levy.

There's no minimum salary for you to receive a confinement nanny work permit.

Considering that this is a short-term work pass, it's not renewable.

Work Permit for Performing Artist

If you're seeking employment at an eligible public entertainment outlet, then your employer or appointed employment agent can apply for a performing artiste work permit. There's no minimum qualifying salary for this work pass. However, the employer must have a CAT 1 Public Entertainment Licence and be open for at least 6 hours a day. The business must be a bar, lounge, nightclub, discotheque, pub, private club, hotel, or restaurant. You must be at least 18 years old.

The work permit is good for up to six months. It's not renewable, and in addition, you can't get any other work pass until one year has passed after this one's expired. Also, employers are subject to a quota and levy.

Trainees and students' Work Passes

Perhaps you're going to Singapore to study or train in an industry. Earning some money on the side can be a great way to support yourself while building life skills and enjoying what Singapore has to offer.

Explore your options below.

Training Employment Pass

This work pass is intended for professionals who are going through practical training. You need to earn at least S$3,000 a month if you're a trainee and be sponsored by an established Singapore-registered company. Otherwise, if you're a student, you need to be studying at an accepted institution or earn the same minimum income as a trainee. You also need to be sponsored by an established Singapore-registered company.

The Training Employment Pass is good for up to three months and isn't renewable. There's no foreign worker levy or quota.

Work Holiday Pass

The Work Holiday Pass is available under the Work Holiday Program for all foreign students and graduates aged 18 to 25, as well as the Work and Holiday Visa Program for Australian students and graduates aged 18 to 30.

For the former group, they're allowed to work and vacation in Singapore for six months. You can apply for it yourself, and it's not renewable. There's a quota of 2,000 places at any given time, so you might have to get lucky to get a Work Holiday Pass.

For the latter group, they're allowed to work and vacation in Singapore for one year. You can also apply for the work pass yourself, and there's no renewal available. There's a quota of 500 places at any given time.

Training Work Permit

The Training Work Permit is for unskilled or semi-skilled foreign workers who need to go through practical training in Singapore. An employer needs to apply on your behalf, but there's no minimum salary required.

This work pass is good for up to six months and is not renewable. In addition, you can't get another Training Work Permit until your last one is expired or canceled for at least six months. If you're a foreign student, you can only get a TWP once.

Employers are subject to quota and levy for this work pass.

Family Member Work Passes

While many expats choose to move abroad on their own, many others bring their family members. If you're in this category, then you might be wondering about what it'll take to have your family members work legally. Here are some of the options.

Dependant's Pass

If you have an Employment Pass or S Pass, you can bring over your legally married spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old, and they can legally work in Singapore. They can then get the Dependant's Pass, which your employer or appointed employment agent must apply for.

Not only do you need to be an Employment Pass or S Pass holder, but you must earn a minimum salary of S$6,000 per month on your own. You must also be sponsored by an established Singapore-registered company. In some cases, you can bring dependants over on an EntrePass. Your total annual business spending must be at least S$100,000, and you must employ at least 3 full-time employees or 1 local professional, manager, or executive.

This pass is good for up to two years; its validity is tied to your work pass. If you have an EP, your dependant can renew up to three months. If you have an S Pass, then your dependant can renew up to two months.

Long-Term Visit Pass

If you have an EP or S Pass, you can use this work pass to bring over your common-law spouse, step-child, or handicapped child to Singapore, and they can work legally. Your employer or appointed employment agent must apply on your behalf.

The Long-Term Visit Pass is valid for up to 2 years and is tied to the validity of your work pass. EP dependants can renew for up to three months, and S Pass dependants can renew for up to two months.

Pre-Approved Letter of Consent

The pre-approved letter of consent (PLOC) is for the spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of Singaporeans and permanent residents. They must be eligible for a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) and desire to work in Singapore.

The PLOC's validity is as long as the LTVP/LTVP validity. This pass is renewable; you just have to ask for another when renewing for a LTVP/LTVP .

Letter of Consent for ICA-Issued LTVP/LTVP Holders

This pass is for LTVP/LTVP holders who want to work in the country. They must be the spouse or unmarried children (under 21) of a Singaporean or permanent resident. Also, the LTVP/LTVP must be valid for at least 3 months and you must have a job offer from a Singaporean employer.

The validity of your LOC will depend on when your LTVP/LTVP expires. It's renewable if you find a new employer.

Letter of Consent for Dependant's Pass Holders Who Are Business Owners

If you're on a Dependant's Pass (DP) and you want to operate a business, you can apply for this LOC. You need to either be a sole proprietor, partner, or a company director of at least 30% shareholding of an ACRA-registered business.

This LOC is valid for one year or upon the expiration of your Dependant's Pass. If you want to renew a LOC, you need to hire at least one Singaporean or permanent resident. Once renewed, it's good until your DP expires.

Exemptions for Working on a Visit Pass

While we previously said that all foreigners must hold a work pass to be able to work, that's not completely true. Here are some exemptions:

  • Miscellaneous Work Pass
  • Work Pass Exempt Activities
  • Work Pass exemption for foreign students
  • Work Passes for Holders of Long-Term Visit Passes issued by ICA

Check with the Ministry of Manpower for more information on these exemptions.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.