EP Pass with new Singapore company, UK applicant and no degree

Hi

I incorporated a company in Singapore around 6th months ago.  I am now at the stage that I need to be in Singapore in order to progress the company.  I have submitted some business proposals / tenders and have been in some discussions with major companies but it is difficult to maintain credibility when my clients know that I am not yet based in Singapore.  The company has not yet traded.

I need to start the EP process but have some questions:

Background - I am from the UK and have no degree.  I have more than 10 years experience in my chosen field.

1 - Is the lack of degree a problem?  I earn around the equivalent of S$15k per month in the UK (although this is made up of a small salary and annual dividends, how is this dealt with by MOM?  Do MOM verify previous salary?  If so, how?).
2 - How complex is the EP process with a company that is not known to MOM?  Do they investigate all new companies by default or only some?  How subjective is any review of business plans etc?  If plan shows clear case for employment of Singaporean(s) then is this likely to be accepted or can it depend on the individual officer who is assessing application?
3 - Can you advise of likely timescales for decision on EP after application (is it still around 7 days) and again how long it will take for a decision after submitting any additional appeal documents?

Many thanks in advance.

I am sure others (Beppi) may step in and give you their thoughts about the EP process, but have your explored the paid-up capital that is required to set up a company in Singapore?

Hi

Thanks for reply. 

Company is already incorporated with paid up capital of 50k.

Thanks

Did you read about the EntrePass?

http://www.bycpa.com/html/news/20095/1380.html

http://www.bycpa.com/html/news/20128/1764.html

Hi

Yes, but the requirements are very strict; the venture capitalist or government sponsored institution funding wouldn't work for my type of business.

As I say, the company already exists and has done so for 6 months - there has been business activity - just no sales as yet.

I think you will have to suck it and see because the requirement is for EP holders to have a tertiary degree and receive a respectable(and of course immediately taxable) salary from the company.

You will not get an EP for being employed by a company you are (even partially) owner of.
That would be a circumvention of EntrePass rules and is not tolerated.

But in case you are not shareholder in that company, but a mere employee or director, the company can apply for an EP for you.
1. Without a degree, you need to have a fixed monthly salary of S$12000 or more to be considered for EP. MoM will check whether the company is in the financial situation to be able to pay this over your contract period.
2. The company will have to show a solid business plan (and preferably ongoing or future sales) and convince MoM that having you will ensure economic benefits and local job creation for Singapore. It is also good if they already employ a few locals and not just you as foreigner. All this will be scrutinized thorougly.
3. There is no way this process takes just 7 days. Plan on a month or two!
An appeal will be processed very fast (instant rejection) if it does not include additional relevant information that was missing in the original application.

You are well advised to consult EnterpriseOne and International Enterprise Singapore (both government organisations) and/or commercial company incorporation service providers like Rikvin or Janus.

Hi Beppi

Many thanks for your comments.

I am a little confused though - if you look at Rikvin or Guidemesingapore (previously Janus) they primarily offer 2 options - one is to apply for the EntrePass and the other is to incorporate the company (using their nominee director service) and then apply for EP pass, which once approved then allows you to become Director of Singapore company.

Surely they cannot advertise a service which has no chance of success?  Please can you help me understand what basis you make this comment on:

"You will not get an EP for being employed by a company you are (even partially) owner of.
That would be a circumvention of EntrePass rules and is not tolerated."

Thanks

It smacks of a thinly-veiled attempt to live in Singapore using a company structure which has no investment or guaranteed income street (based on  past performance) to be close to a person (who is the local share holder?). Not very robust.

Gravitas

That isn't correct.  The investment is already 50k.  No company (of any size) has a guaranteed income; I agree that having no trading history is obviously less than ideal, however a company that traded very well last year could make huge losses the next.  I would imagine that if any company can't pay salaries then anyone on an EP is sent home?  I don't understand what that would be different for a new company or otherwise, and 50k paid up capital is substantial no?

From what I understand, there is generally no relationship (other than financial) between a nominee director and the person who wishes to apply for EP.  I fear you are not understanding my situation - my reasons for wishing to work in Singapore are purely financial; I believe I can run a successful business (which will employ Singaporeans).

Nothing is 'thinly-veiled' - indeed this process is clearly advertised on a number of sites - I don't understand how they are all wrong?

I admire your persistence but I don't think the authorities would see it your way. If you have never owned a company before that is also a huge issue. If that company was setting up in Singapore it might look different. But 50k is paid up capital and not investment capital. A salary of 12k per month would put paid to that in 4 months. Your produce must be pretty amazing if you think it justifies a start up the other side of the world....... There are always people looking in and people looking out.

I never said I hadn't owned a company before; indeed I have done so in the UK for many years and the business in Singapore is a progression from this.

I understand that 50/12 isn't very much, but paid up capital is only part of the picture; the company will have income from customers too.

I do agree with you that perspective is everything!

Beppi - I would be grateful if you could share any personal experience / knowledge to help me understand your comments.

Thanks

Remember you need to have premises expenses in your business plan, salary, product import (if required), stock levels, etc. You also need business licence(s). You cannot count the income you think you might earn into the financial support you need for all of the foregoing. I guess you will keep going until you hear the answer you want....... Its a non-starter. It would have been different if you had worked in the industry you want to take part in in Singapore as an employee, sussed it out, found your niche, and attempted to set a company to fill that niche. Which brings me to what is your unique selling point? Are you in a business area that has space for niche companies or are you trying to enter a maxi income stream with a non-existant set up?

" It would have been different if you had worked in the industry you want to take part in in Singapore as an employee, sussed it out, found your niche, and attempted to set a company to fill that niche."

Ok - so there you have it - well almost.  Having spent many years travelling the world with clients [(including spending 6 months (multiple visits over a period of time) in Singapore] I believe there is an opportunity for what I do.  It's not like this is just a random idea i had after a few beers!  No max income stream - i am not trying to jump on a bandwagon here...

I am fully aware that this is no easy task - but I do believe its possible.

virgincinboy wrote:

I never said I hadn't owned a company before; indeed I have done so in the UK for many years and the business in Singapore is a progression from this.

THIS is the main argument in your favor, and you should focus on it in your business plan to submit to the authorities: You are a successfully established and experienced foreign businessman who wants to expand or move the business to Singapore!
However, the S$50k paid-up capital are peanuts for Singapore (not even half a year of average household income!) - you need to invest S$ 2.5 million in a business (and fulfill some other criteria) to apply for an investor visa.

Getting an EP as director of your own company is still theoretically possible, but has been made so onerous in the last few years (precisely because it has been used as back door) that EntrePass is now the easier option. If you cannot fulfill the EntrePass requirements, Singapore simply doesn't want your business. It's their decision, not yours!

Edited to add: I thought getting an EP as director of your own company is still possible, but the MoM website does not mention it any more now - I also couldn't find it on Rikvin and GuideMeSingapore's pages. So I guess that possibility is now finally gone.

So the next step would seem to be getting some investors or business partners to fund the set up and initial working capital required. Think: Dragons Den.

Gravitas is correct: You have much better chances if you have a local partner with experience in the same field.
Please tell us what the field is, so I can think about potential matches in my network.

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