Singapore has a highly developed free-market economy and the Global Competitiveness Report in 2015 named it as the world’s second most prospering economy.

With high salaries, great job opportunities, and a great tax system, Singapore attracts a substantial number of foreigners who apply for a Singapore work visa.

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), there were over 1.3 million foreign workers in Singapore’s workforce in 2018 – that’s over 20% of the country’s overall population (5.6 million).

In order to work in Singapore as a foreign worker, you will need to obtain a Singapore work visa. A Singapore work visa is known as a Pass. Everyone, regardless of whether or not they are subject to a Singapore Visa, has to obtain a work Pass to be allowed to work in Singapore.

Depending on the type of work you will do and your skill level, there are different types of Singapore visas you can apply for.

Types of Singapore Work Visas

The Singapore work visas are divided into:

  • Singapore work visas for professionals.
  • Singapore work visas for skilled and semi-skilled workers.
  • Singapore work visas for trainees and students.
  • Short-term work passes.

Singapore Work Visas for Professionals

The types of Singapore work Pass (work visa) you can get if you are a professional worker are:

  • Employment Pass – available to foreign managers, executives, and professionals. You will have to make at least S$3,600 a month.
  • Personalized Employment Pass – available if you are a high-earning foreigner or current Employment Pass holder. The PEP offers more flexibility than other work Passes.
  • EntrePass – available to investors or entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Singapore.

No foreign worker quotas and levy apply to any of the aforementioned Passes.

Singapore work visas for skilled and semi-skilled workers

If you are a skilled or semi-skilled worker, you can apply for one of the following Singapore work visas:

  • S Pass – available to mid-level skilled workers who will receive a monthly salary of at least S$2,300. Foreign worker quotas and levy apply.
  • Work Permit for Foreign Workers – this is available only to foreign workers from certain countries and allows work only in certain sectors (construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector.) Foreign worker quotas and levy apply.
  • Work Permit for Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) – available only to workers between the ages of 23 and 50 from certain countries, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia etc.
  • Work Permit for confinement nanny – available to Malaysian nannies who can work in Singapore for 16 weeks, beginning from the time a baby is born. The employer has to pay a foreign worker Levy.
  • Work Permit for performing artists – available to performing artists who will be working in eligible public entertainment outlets, like bars, nightclubs, or hotels. Foreign worker quotas and levy apply.

Singapore work visas for trainees and students

The Singapore work visas that are available for foreign students or trainees are:

  • Training Employment Pass – available to foreign nationals who want to undergo training in Singapore that does not exceed three months. There’s no foreign worker levy or quota.
  • Work Holiday Pass – available to foreign nationals who are under the Working Holiday Programme with Singapore (Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States). It is available only to nationals aged 18-25 (18-30 for Australians) and valid for up to six months (1 year for Australians). It is non-renewable and the holder can only receive it once.
  • Training Work Permit – available to unskilled or semi-skilled foreign students/trainees who will undergo a practical training in Singapore that only lasts up to six months.

Short-term work passes for Singapore

Foreign workers who as on a short-term Visit Pass to Singapore usually cannot take up any work related activities. However, in certain cases (such as in the case of journalists or speakers at public events), the holder can apply for a Miscellaneous Work Pass. it allows the holder to work for a period not exceeding 60 days.

Foreign students who are studying in Singapore with a Study Visa can also work if they meet specific requirements, such as being enrolled at an approved educational institution.

How to Apply for a Singapore Work Visa?

You will first need to find a job in Singapore before you can apply for a work visa. That’s because it is your employer (or an Employment Agency) who is in charge of handling your Singapore work visa application.

Your employer or an Employment Agency can apply to get your Singapore work visa issued via EP Online, the online application service found on the website of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The application process for a work visa for Singapore is as follows:

  1. Find a job in Singapore.
  2. While you are still in your home country, your employer or an Employment Agency (EA) will submit a work visa application via EP Online. They will have to pay a processing fee.
    • If the application is accepted, your employer will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter, which you can use to enter Singapore.
    • If the application is rejected, your employer will receive an In-Principle Rejection letter instead. You won’t receive a work visa.
  3. Using your IPA letter, you can travel to Singapore.
  4. Once you are there, your employer or an EA applies via EP Online to get your Singapore work visa issued. Again, they will have to pay another fee, this time for the work Pass itself.
  5. If your work Pass is issued, you will receive a notification letter. This letter holds information about whether you need to get your photo and fingerprints taken. It also allows you to start working and leave and enter Singapore until you get your Employment Card.
  6. Within two weeks after your Pass is issued, you must register at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC).
  7. After registering, you will get your Pass Card – usually within 4 working days.

Can You Bring Your Family Members With You With a Singapore Work Visa?

Yes, certain professional and skilled workers are allowed to bring close family members (married spouses and children under 21) to Singapore with them through the Dependent’s Pass.

Family members who do not qualify for the Dependent’s Pass can come live with their family members who are working in Singapore through the Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP).