All You Need to Know About Work Passes in Singapore


One of the perks of living in Singapore is that the government provides many financial incentives to immigrants working there, such as Work Passes (WP). A Work Pass enables you to stay in Singapore for up to 3 years, during which time you can work, study and even start your own business without the need for a visa. The only condition is that you must be earning at least $2,000 per month or more. Whether you’re already working in Singapore or planning to move there in the future, it’s useful to know everything you can about Work Passes and what they entail.

What are the passes?

Work passes allow you to work legally in Singapore. They are also known as Employment Passes or Employment Visas, and they are issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). Once you have successfully applied for a pass, your employer will then be able to sponsor you for an E-Passport. This can take up to four weeks once your application has been approved, so always start the process early. There are six different types of work passes:

  • Employee Work Pass: These are usually granted to professionals from other countries who want to work in Singapore for more than three months.
  • S Pass: If you’re skilled, experienced and gainfully employed in another country but wish to work in Singapore temporarily (between one month and three years), this is the pass for you.
  • General Work Permit: If you’re already working here on a visit visa and would like to stay on permanently, this permit is ideal.
  • Student’s Work Permit: Foreign students enrolled at local schools may apply for this permit if they plan on working part-time while studying.

How can I get a pass?

Foreigners who are working, studying or on a business visit in Singapore and would like to stay here for more than three months, will need a work pass. To apply for a work pass, you must be sponsored by your employer or educational institution. The sponsor will then submit an application form together with supporting documents such as the applicant’s passport and police clearance certificate, copy of employment contract or letter from the educational institution.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) decides whether the person applying for the Work Pass can stay on in Singapore, based on their qualifications and skills. If approved, he/she will be issued a Work Permit that is valid for two years with multiple entries during this period. Work permits may also be renewed before they expire if they have been working continuously in Singapore for six months or more, and have not violated any condition of stay. For applicants on job assignments lasting less than six months, MOM may issue Work Permits only if the nature of work cannot be performed by locals.

Work passes are only given to employees who will work at least 24 hours per week at one location – full-time work passes allow for both single and double entry visa so that the employee does not need to exit Singapore between these periods each day.

Work visas do not permit holders to engage in any other type of employment other than what is stated on the work permit which is why there are many restrictions imposed when it comes to Work Visas.

Who is eligible?

Singapore requires work passes for foreigners who want to work there. There are five types of Work Passes: S-Pass, Employment Pass, Dependent’s Pass, Long Term Visit Pass and Short Term Visit Pass. Eligibility depends on your qualifications and the type of work you will be doing. Those with higher skills such as doctors or engineers will need an Employment Pass which has more requirements such as a degree from a recognised university or working experience with a certain company.

The other four types of Work Passes are simpler to get and may only require proof that you have adequate finances.

S-Passes can only be applied for by skilled professionals (such as bankers) but their spouse and children can apply for Dependent’s Passes if they meet certain criteria.

Long Term Visit Passes are not usually given out unless one is sponsored by an employer while Short Term Visit Passes can typically be applied for online before coming into Singapore with sufficient funds available during stay without work restrictions.

What comes with a pass?

What are work passes? Work passes are documents that employers need to hire foreign workers. These documents can be issued by the Ministry of Manpower or any other competent authority. In order for an employer to apply for these work passes, they must meet the requirements set out under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). There are two types of work passes: a work permit and a work visa. A work permit is given to someone who will stay in Singapore for up to three months while a work visa is given if the person will stay here for more than three months but less than two years. A holder of a work pass may either be employed or self-employed, depending on what type of pass he/she holds and whether he/she needs a licence from MOM to do so. The decision on whether the person needs a licence lies with MOM based on his qualifications and experience as well as his profession’s prevailing wages and employment terms.