Lucrative salaries, world-class infrastructure, safe cities, and multicultural society – these are just a few benefits of working in Singapore. The country is one of the four “Tiger” economies in Asia, known for its rapid economic growth in the past decades.

Singapore is home to over 7000 multinational companies, but employers are finding a shortage of skills. So if you’re looking to start a career somewhere stable, you’ll find plenty of opportunities in Singapore.

If you want to get a work visa in Singapore, here’s how to get started:

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Do I need a work visa in Singapore?

All foreign nationals must have a valid pass (in place of a work visa) to be able to work in Singapore. You’ll only be exempted from a valid pass for any of the following activities:

  • Eligible activities within a 90-day period
  • Short-term work assignments, such as seminars and journalism
  • Foreign students in approved institutions
  • Holders of Long Term Visit Passes (LTVP)

What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in Singapore?

Singapore’s equivalent of a work visa is often called a valid pass or work pass. You can apply through your employer or employment agent (EA).

Here are the basic requirements:

  • Work Permit Application Form
  • Signed Employment Contract (or similar agreement or consent)
  • Valid passport
  • Photocopy of passport’s personal information page
  • Medical records and insurance
  • Proof of academic qualifications (verified by a global verification agency)
  • Proof of professional or work experience

Aside from these, you need to have the proper documentation proving your eligibility for a specific type of work pass. The following are the common immigration schemes:

Professionals

  • Employment Pass for managers, executives, and professionals
    • Job offer/contract in managerial, executive, or similar
    • Proof of acceptable professional qualification
  • EntrePass for entrepreneurs
    • Proof of registration, funding, entrepreneurial or investment track record, or intellectual property, whichever is applicable
  • Personalized Employment Pass for high-earning existing EP holders
    • Proof of continuous employment
    • Proof of salary of at least $144,000 annually

Skilled and semi-skilled workers

  • S Pass for mid-level skilled staff
    • Proof of technical expertise
  • Work Permit for semi-skilled migrants in construction, manufacturing, and service sectors, domestic workers, confinement nannies, and performing artists
    • Proof of successful National Skills Evaluation Test (SET) or Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ)
    • Proof of safety courses completion (construction and process)
    • Proof of Level 4 Workplace Literacy and Numeracy (hotel and retail)

Other immigration schemes include Training Employment Pass, Work Holiday Pass, and Dependent’s Pass – each with their own requirements, as well.

In other words, you need to complete the basic requirements, plus exclusive documents for your specific work pass. If you’re unsure which category suits you, you can check with Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower.

Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in Singapore

Applying for a work visa or work pass in Singapore is a straightforward process. It starts with an approval letter to work, continuing the application process once in Singapore, and finally receiving a work pass. However, your employer or authorizing agent will initiate the application on your behalf.

You can review the following steps:

1. Submit an application

Your application begins when your employer logs in to WP Online, Singapore’s electronic work pass application platform. They will fill out a form and submit the required documents. They will present their most recent business profile and other national compliances.

From your end, you have to send them the requirements listed above depending on the type of work pass for your skill or profession.

2. Pay application fee

Every application comes with a $35 processing fee that your employer can pay through GIRO, MasterCard, VISA, or eNets debit. Once payment is made, you can expect the average processing time to be one to three weeks, although some cases may take more time.

You can check the status of the application at WP Online.

3. Receive an approval letter

If your application is successful, you and your employer will receive an In-principle Approval (IPA) letter, which is mandatory for you to move forward. An IPA is not yet a work pass but is a valid document to bring migrants to Singapore.

Its validity is mentioned in the letter, which is usually six months to travel to the country and process your work pass (or sixty days if applying for an S pass). It is extendable for one month.

4. Prepare for arrival in Singapore

Your employer will prepare a few more documents before you arrive in Singapore and within the applicable timeframe.

They will submit entry applications to relevant government agencies, which will grant you entry approval to the country. If applicable to your occupation, they will buy medical insurance, work injury compensation insurance, and security bond (for Malaysian workers).

An entry approval form also lists necessary health protocols such as a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) and COVID-19 tests you have to follow upon arrival.

Within two weeks of arrival in the country (and after completing SHN), your employer will assist you to a medical examination by a registered doctor in Singapore. You will need this result together with a residential address and a Singaporean mobile number to register for a work permit.

5. Register for a work pass/permit

Once your medical result is available and your address and phone number secured, your employer returns to WP Online to request your Singapore work pass or permit.

There will be another $35 fee per application to be paid electronically by your employer. Once the request is made, your employer will receive a temporary notification letter for you to use while waiting for the official work pass card.

6. Register biometric data

For some occupations, there are instructions in the notification letter about additional requirements. Check if you need an appointment at the MOM Services Centre – Hall C to register your fingerprints and photograph/s.

If needed, your employer will set an appointment for you. You should bring your original passport, notification letter, and appointment letter on the day.

7. Receive work permit card

You will receive your official work permit card for Singapore four working days after your request (step 5). It will be delivered to the registered address and you will receive an email or SMS a day before.

In case of unsuccessful delivery, you can collect your card at the MOM Service Centre – Hall C service desk instead. Make sure to bring documents to prove your request and identification.