Singapore Expats

Singapore Employment Pass - Difficulties and Challenges

The Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a work visa that allows foreign professionals with an opportunity to work in Singapore in certain specialized, managerial or executive positions. Generally speaking, it is one of the 3 types of professional work passes where employers are not required to hire any local staff before the Singapore Employment Pass visa can be approved.

Due to this concession, the Ministry of Manpower has instead imposed strict yet subjective criteria in terms of the quality of the candidate and the background of the employer hiring them.

The other 2 passes are the  Personalised Employment Pass (PEP),  and Entrepreneurial Pass (EntrePass) which have an even more stringent requirements than the Singapore Employment Pass.

Recently Introduced criterions for Singapore Employment Pass (EP)

In recent years, the application process for Singapore Employment Pass has been made stricter by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).  Nevertheless, well qualified foreigners in terms of academic qualification with specialized skills and experience are still able to qualify for the Singapore Employment Pass (EP) work visa. The minimum qualifying monthly salary for Singapore Employment Pass applications has been raised to SGD3,600 from SGD3,300 for fresh university graduates.  Previously, the applicants were only assessed on the basis of their academic qualifications, professional skills and expertise and their salary. However, now foreigners applying for the Singapore Employment Pass are also assessed on the basis of social and economic impact they will have on Singapore and its citizens.

It is not only the candidate who is assessed. The hiring companies are also evaluated in terms of their local headcount and nature of business activities. The Singapore authorities will scrutinize whether the company have hired any Singapore citizens or plans to hire Singaporeans in their business operations. Companies with a disproportionately large numbers of foreigners may get their EP applications declined or delayed as this could be deemed as not showing commitment to hiring or giving opportunities to locals.

Companies may also be evaluated in terms of their capital structure and ability to pay the salaries of EP holders. Documentary evidence such as payslips and income tax statements may be required for verification during the approval process. In situation where there are doubts, the employment pass if approved, it may be for a shorter term period then applied for.

On the other hand, companies with a healthy ratio of Singaporean employees will find their application process smoother. The goal of the recent policy changes is to encourage companies to hire more locals, provide training opportunities and develop them for the roles within the companies.  

There are no restrictions on the nationality of applicants for Singapore Employment Pass as Singapore is opened to accepting high level talents from anywhere around the world. The key factor is whether such talent are available locally and the justification provided when applying to hire foreigners for a particular role.

Alternative Work Passes to Singapore Employment Pass


In situation where a foreign applicant is not eligible for Singapore Employment Pass work visa, he or she can explore other forms of work passes to work in Singapore.

For example, foreigners may be able to qualify for S Pass work visa which requires lower salary, academic qualification and skills criterions.

The S-Pass work visa is for mid-level skilled foreign employees from any country. Candidates need to earn at least SGD2,200 a month and meet the assessment criteria. The hiring companies are subjected to a quota of how many S-Pass work visa they can apply for depending on their local head count numbers. Salary offered should reflect length of work experience and academic qualification, higher salary requirements for candidates with more years relevant work experience than fresh graduates or junior employees. Other than diplomas, technical certificates, such as courses for qualified technicians or specialists can be considered in the assessment for eligibility process. These certifications should preferably include at least 1 year of full-time study. The relevance of applicant’s work experience is also taken into account in the evaluation process as this is a skilled work pass.

Work Permits (WP) are work passes for foreign workers from approved source countries working in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or services sector. The Work Permit visa is generally meant for lower skill or unskilled labor but can also be used for professionals as a form of work visa to work in Singapore.

For more information, please visit:

Singapore Employment Pass

Employment and Work Pass Application

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07 Jul 2017
JobPlus