A Quick Guide to Singapore’s Employment Pass

by | Mar 31, 2021

Hundreds to thousands of international companies worldwide eye on Singapore as their head office for Southeast Asia. In fact, you might have heard of tech firms like ByteDance, Zoom, Tencent, Facebook Inc, Twitter, and Alibaba setting up their APAC HQ in Singapore. Other companies may soon follow suit as the country strives to maintain its stellar reputation as a business-friendly location and a flourishing tech and business hub in the region. 


However, notably, the SG government announced tighter restrictions on foreign talent back in 2020. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) changed the qualifying criteria for Employment Pass (EP) holders to regulate the number of passes issued. 

So, what’s there know about the new implementations of Employment Pass? Let’s take a closer look at all the necessary details of the EP application process.


Singapore’s EP Eligibility 

Singapore provides various working visas for foreign nationals. One of which is EP or employment pass. Typically the application process lasts for around 3 to 8 weeks. As an employer or a third-party representative, you can choose between online or manual processing.

This specific work visa applies to the following types of individuals:

  • Professionals who have an offer to work in the country
  • Those working in a managerial, executive, or specialised position
  • Meets the minimum fixed salary requirement
  • Talents who come from a reputable university or has specialised skills or professional qualifications

To check for a candidate’s eligibility for an SG employment pass, employers can use MOM’s self-assessment tool.

Changes in EP Eligibility Requirements

As we’ve mentioned earlier, MOM recently imposed new adjustments for the EP application to prioritise local talents. Here are some of the key changes in requirements that companies need to note:

Minimum Salary

  • In accordance to the new MOM guidelines, graduate applicants need to meet the minimum SGD 4,500 to qualify for an EP application.
  • Experienced applicants will now have to meet the SGD 9,000 minimum salary requirement from the existing SGD 7,800 benchmark.
  • As for financial talents, the requirement rose from SGD 4,500 to 5,000 for graduate applicants and SGD 9,000 to 10,000 for experienced professionals.

Fair Consideration Framework Job Ads

Under the Fair Consideration Framework or FCF, MOM presently requires companies to post their job advertisement for new vacancies on MyCareersFuture.sg. Initially, the job ad only had to be posted for a minimum of 2 weeks. However, the recent changes require at least 28 days.

Companies that also repeatedly discriminate against locals or fails to meet the requirements may get included in the famed FCF watchlist. Today the watchlist consists of more than 1,200 employers as MOM keeps a watchful eye.

Inclusion in the list can result in closed scrutinization of EP pass applications. Additionally, the worst cases of uncooperative companies also face a 12-month work passes debarment. Companies penalized by the MOM get debarred from applying for work pass renewals and new passes.



Tips for Posting Job Ads

With the recent changes applied by MOM, many employers have met difficulties in posting job ads. To help you avoid going through the same problems, here are some useful tips when posting job ads on MyCareersFuture.sg:

  • Provide enough details that focus on the qualifications, experience, and skills needed
  • Avoid using demographics like race, marital status, and disability as a job requirement
  • Avoid adding specific attribute such as a requirement unless it is a must for the position
  • Ensure that the details provided in the EP application and job ad listing match
  • Provide clear, consistent, and specific details on the salary offer
  • If you make any changes to the job ad, note that you must extend the posting for another 28-day period before sending the employment pass application.
  • Never use expired or out-dated ads for EP applications

Note that a company may get exempted for EP application based on the following criteria:

  • The organization has no more than 10 employees
  • The average monthly salary reaches more than $20,000
  • The role needed is only for a short-term period
  • If the applicant enters SG via the overseas intra-corporate transferee process

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Getting Help from Datasearch Consulting 

The debate on rebalancing the local and foreign workforce in Singapore continues. While the Ministry of Manpower has fully implemented the new regulations for the Employment Pass applications, a lot of things can potentially change over time.

For starters, the recent parliament meeting talks about imposing a levy for EP holders. Arguably, this could severely impact Singapore’s image among foreign companies. But, since the talks are still ongoing, all we can do is sit back and watch how things will unfold. Make sure to get the latest updates on possible foreign labour changes only here at Datasearch Consulting.

Also, you can keep in touch with our team if you have any difficulties with the EP application process or if you need to hire new talents for your team.

Don’t forget to join our newsletter to know more about fintech, tech, and data recruitment in APAC! Feel free to contact us for any other HR and talent recruitment concerns for fintech, data, cyber, and tech.

Puvin is an Associate Director at Datasearch Consulting, a leading executive recruitment firm specialising in the Technology & Data sectors.

You can download their FREE comprehensive guide on “The Complete Guide to Hiring Fintech & Data Talent – 5 Proven Steps to Secure the Best Candidates Possible” here Alternatively you can view the Datasearch Consulting website or contact them directly on info@datasearchconsulting.com for a more detailed discussion

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