Before You Apply for a Singapore Visa, Learn More About the One That’s Right for You

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If you want professional success without compromising your work-life balance, moving to Singapore can certainly prove to be a life changing decision. Being a welfare state that truly cares for its residents, Singapore can also offer a wonderful life to your family. It also houses a number of global centres known for academic excellence which means that the level of education is also very good.

Even if you’re not looking to settle down in Singapore, you’ll certainly enjoy your time as a tourist. For a tiny city-state, it offers more recreation and fun than even the biggest urban centres in the world. Also, it is extremely well-connected. You can fly in and out in a completely hassle-free manner.

The Government of Singapore offers different types of visas based on the reason of your visit. Without the right visa, getting entry into Singapore is impossible.

The process can never take off smoothly if you’re not well-versed with all the different visa options available to you. When you know your options, you’ll also be better prepared to handle the approval/validation process and the associated trappings.

Business or Social Visit? Get an Entry Visa

The Immigration & Checkpoint Authority of Singapore (ICA) categorise foreign nationals who need a Singapore entry visa depending on the country to which they belong. If you’re either from a country that falls in the Assessment Level I category or the Assessment Level II category, you’ll need a visa, unless you’re a holder of a special type of passport issued by your country.

Some of these special passports are official passport, service passport, public affairs passport, and diplomatic passport among others. If your documents are in order, your local contact or strategic partner can apply for a visa on behalf of you through the Immigration & Checkpoint (ICA) website or you can apply directly at an overseas mission. A non-refundable fee of S$30 has to be paid as processing fee.

Provided you fulfil the eligibility criteria, you can expect your visa to be approved within a few days. An e-visa can be downloaded by your local contact from the ICA website or you can collect it from an authorised agent if you have applied at an overseas mission.

When Do You Need a Pass?

Say, you’re a chartered accountant from India and you have been offered a new role at the Singapore office of a global audit firm. In addition to getting an entry visa, you’ll also have to secure an employment visa, the exact nature of which, would be determined by the terms of your employment contract.

Now say, you want your dependent spouse and child to settle down with you in Singapore. You can apply for a Dependent’s Pass for each of them. After a while, your parents decide to come and stay with you for a while. If the stay is relatively long, you’ll have to apply for a Long Term Visit Pass, to make it possible. The validity of this pass would depend on the validity of your employment pass.

Now, if your dependent spouse or child wants to get involved in any activity that offers remuneration, you’ll also need to arrange for a letter of consent. Instead of work, say, you’re here for studies. Singapore is also the home to a number of seats of higher learning. If you want to work part-time along with your studies, you may need to obtain a Work Pass Exemption for Foreign Students.

So, depending on your skillset and your reason for visit, you’ll have to obtain a suitable pass.

Which Pass Do You Need?

Are You a Professional? Here Are Your Options:

  1. Employment Pass
  2. If you’re a foreign professional who has been selected for the position of a company executive or a manager, you’ll need this pass before you can start working in Singapore. Your employer or an appointed agent can apply for this pass on your behalf.

    You’ll be eligible only if your monthly salary is at least S$3,600. This particular requirement will grow in proportion to your designation and experience.

    The pass will be valid for up to 2 years if you apply for it for the first time. The validity for subsequent renewals will be up to 3 years. Your employer can decide whether to support you with a medical insurance or not.

  3. EntrePass
  4. If you’re planning to invest in a new business venture in Singapore or expand a business in operation, you’ll need to apply for this pass. If you apply for it or renew it for the first time, your pass will be valid for 1 year. With every subsequent renewal, your pass would become valid for 2 years.

  5. Personalised Employment Pass
  6. This pass is applicable to high-earning foreign nationals and current Employment Pass (EP) holders. You can be eligible for this pass if:

    • You hold an EP and your current monthly salary is at least S$12,000.
    • You’re a foreign national, working overseas, and your last-drawn fixed monthly salary, within 6 months prior to your application, was at least S$18,000.

    You can apply for this pass directly. It will remain valid for up to 3 years and can’t be renewed. Before this pass expires, your employer will have to apply for an EP or S Pass to ensure that you stay employed in Singapore.

Are You a Skilled or Semi-Skilled Worker? You Need One of the Following Passes:

  1. S Pass
  2. If you’re a mid-level skilled employee, your employer or an authorised agent can apply for this pass on your behalf, provided you satisfy the following criteria:

    • You have a fixed monthly salary of at least S$2,200. The requirement may be higher for experienced candidates.
    • You should have a degree or diploma that is relevant to your field of work. The duration of the degree/diploma shouldn’t be less than 1 year.
    • Your relevant work experience will also be considered.

    The pass is normally valid for up to 2 years. However, if you change your job, your new employer or an appointed agent will have to apply for a new pass.

  3. Foreign Worker Work Permit
  4. If you’re a worker from a source country that’s approved under this arrangement and you’re working in services, process, manufacturing, construction or marine shipyard industry, you can be eligible for this pass, provided you satisfy the sector-specific criteria.

    This pass is usually valid for up to 2 years depending on the terms of your employment contract, security bond, and the validity of your passport. Your employer would have to support you with a medical insurance. This pass can be applied for by your employer or an appointed agent.

  5. Foreign Domestic Helpers Work Permit
  6. If you’re a foreigner who joins a Singaporean household as domestic helper, you’ll need this pass. Not just you but your employer too, must satisfy certain preconditions to fulfil the prerequisites of this pass.

    You must meet the following requirements:

    • You’re a female.
    • You have to be aged between 23 and 50 when you apply.
    • You must be from one of the countries approved as a source.
    • You must have completed at least 8 years of formal education from a recognised institute.
    • Check the full list of conditions here.

    Your employer must satisfy the following criteria:

    • He/she must be aged at least 21 years.
    • He/she must have the mental acuity to fully comprehend his/her responsibility as an employer and discharge them without fail.
    • He/she is financially stable and in a position to offer you a job (isn’t an undischarged bankrupt).
    • He/she must attend an Employer Orientation Programme (EOP), if you’re the first foreign worker that they have ever hired for their household.

    Your employer can hire you as a second foreign domestic helper only if he/she has 2 or more children, aged below 18 or has a parent/parent-in-law aged above 60, in their care.

  7. Confinement Nanny Work Permit
  8. Are you planning to join a Singaporean household as a nanny for a child yet to be born or one that has just taken birth? You must satisfy the following conditions:

    • You must be a Malaysian national.
    • You must be aged between 23 and 70 when your employer submits an application on your behalf.
    • You’ll have to work at the residential address mentioned in your government records.

    Your employer will have to satisfy the following conditions:

    • He/she must be at least 21 years old.
    • He/she must have a child aged below 4 months.
    • He/she must be in a position to pay you the government-determined monthly levy.
    • He/she must apply for your nanny pass.

    The validity of the pass can’t extend past 16 weeks from the time the child in question is born. If you arrive after the birth of the child, the validity of your pass will be shorter.

    As a nanny, you’ll get a fixed monthly levy of S$60 per month if the child of your employer is Singaporean and S$265 per month if the child is non-Singaporean.

  9. Performing Artiste Work Permit
  10. Want to start your Singaporean dream as a bartender or a dancer at a nightclub? You and your employer must meet the following criteria before you get a suitable pass. This pass, which is valid for 6 months, can be applied for by your Singaporean employer or an approved agent.

    You should also remember that there is a minimum wait period of 1 year for any work permit from the time this pass expires or is cancelled.

    With this pass, you can work at hotels, bars, and nightclubs that have a valid CAT1 Public Entertainment License. This license is issued by the police force of Singapore. Furthermore, your employer must ensure that:

    • The business outlet is operating for a minimum of 6 hours every day.
    • The business is properly classified and listed under the public entertainment records.
    • The employer must have at least 1 Singaporean full-time worker on their payroll. This employee must be making regular CPF contributions.

    The entertainment outlet can hire between 8 and 12 foreign employees at most, determined on a case-by-basis by the authorities. If your employer has up to 8 foreign performing artistes, he/she will have to offer you a monthly levy of up to S$450. Beyond 8 and up to 12 performers, the establishment will have to offer a monthly levy of S$750. If you’re holding this pass, you must be covered by a health plan, too.

    It doesn’t take more than 1 week for approval unless further information is required. You’ll have to be aged at least 18 to be eligible for this pass.

If You Are a Trainee or a Student, Apply for One of the Following Passes

  1. Training Employment Pass
  2. Are you a foreigner planning to undergo a practical training in Singapore? You will need this pass.

    Your employer can apply for this pass on your behalf. It is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and can’t be renewed. If you’re holding this pass, you can’t apply for a pass to bring your dependent family to Singapore.

    If you’re a foreign student applying for this visa, make sure that:

    • This training is a part of your course.
    • You’re studying at a recognised institute or earning a minimum of S$3,000 per month in Singapore.
    • You’re sponsored by a reputable company registered in Singapore.

    If you’re a trainee from a foreign office of the company or from a subsidiary firm, then you must:

    • Be earning a fixed monthly salary of no less than S$3,000.
    • Make sure that your sponsoring company is registered in Singapore and is well-established.
  3. Work Holiday Programme - Work Holiday Pass
  4. If you’re a foreign student who wants to work and holiday in Singapore for a maximum duration of 6 months, you’ll need this pass. This pass is issued by the government under the Work Holiday Programme. At any time, a maximum of 2,000 candidates can be accommodated under this programme.

    In order to be eligible for this pass, you’ll have to meet the following criteria:

    • You’re aged between 18 and 25.
    • You’re an undergraduate or graduate student from a university of one of the countries recognised under this programme. The countries are:
      • New Zealand
      • UK
      • US
      • Australia
      • Hong Kong
      • France
      • Switzerland
      • Germany
      • Japan
    • The university where you’re currently studying or have studied must be recognised by the government of your country.
    • If you’re an undergraduate student, you must make sure that you’re a resident and full-time student of the university at least 3 months prior to your pass application.
    • If you have already graduated, provide proof that you were studying at this university and have successfully passed out from it.

    While there is no restriction on any field of work or practice, you’ll have to fulfil the registration requirements if you want to engage yourself in certain professions such as law, architecture and dentistry among others.

  5. Work Holiday and Visa Programme – Work Holiday Pass
  6. If you’re an Australian student or a young graduate, you can apply for this pass and have the chance to work and holiday in Singapore for up to 1 year. This pass is non-renewable and you can apply for this pass without intermediaries.

    At any time, a maximum of 500 candidates can be granted admission under this programme.

    To be eligible, you’ll have to fulfil the following criteria in addition to being an Australian national:

    • You must be aged between 18 and 30.
    • You must be a holder of a degree from a recognised university or you must have completed equivalent to 2 years of full-time undergraduate studies.

    Here are some of the additional conditions that you must bear in mind:

    • You can be employed with a company registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
    • You can work as an employee of an organisation which is registered with the Registry of Societies (ROS).
    • You may work as an independent professional as long as you fulfil the registration requirements associated with the profession.
    • You can’t work as a freelancer during the period.
    • You can’t be employed with the same employer for more than 6 months; you can choose to find a new employer for the remaining duration or spend the time holidaying.
    • You can’t study or train, whether as a part of an internship, a part-time/full-time course or a job training, when you’re holding this pass.
  7. Training Work Permit
  8. Are you a semi-skilled foreign trainee or student who plans to undergo practical training in Singapore? Your employer will need to apply for this pass on your behalf. Every Training Work Permit pass is valid for 6 months.

    This pass is non-renewable. After the last pass expires, you’ll have to wait for at least 6 months before you can apply for a new pass. Although, it may or may not be binding on your employer to pay you a levy or a basic wage, you have the right to demand a medical insurance cover.

    If you’re a foreign skilled/unskilled worker from a related overseas organisation, a local employer can offer to train you in Singapore under this pass. Also, if you’re a foreign student at a Singaporean educational institution, you can use this pass to seek training in a company, provided it is related to your curriculum/credit system.

    Foreign workers will be subject to foreign levy. There is no provision in law for minimum guaranteed levy for students. However, your employer can only hire a maximum of 15 trainees with Training Work Permit or 5% of the total workforce of the company, whichever is lower. This is in addition to the foreign worker quota allowed. A sector-specific quota will also apply.

    Also, make sure that your employer has a security bond for you. This is a mandatory requirement under this arrangement.

    At the time of application, an administrative fee of S$30 will have to be paid. The issue of each pass will cost your employer another S$30.

    Usually, a day is needed for the interim approval. The actual processing time would depend on how quickly your employer can gather all the necessary supporting documents and send it to the vetting authority.

Employed in Singapore? To Get Your Dependent Family Members to Singapore, Apply for One of the Following Passes

  1. Dependant’s Pass
  2. Living in a foreign country without your greatest strength/support – your family can be tough. If you’re employed in Singapore under certain categories, you can get your family over to Singapore.

    If you’re currently holding an Employment Pass or an S Pass, your legally married spouse and/or dependent, unmarried children under the age of 21 can join you in Singapore if they have this pass. Your employer or their authorised agent can apply for this pass on your behalf.

    The validity of this pass can’t exceed 2 years. However, the actual validity of this pass will depend on the validity of the pass you hold. This pass is renewable and can be renewed 6 months prior to the time it expires.

    If you’re currently holding an EntrePass or EP, you can start the renewal of the dependent pass of your spouse or child/children 3 months before the expiry of the pass. The renewal form would reach you by post and you’ll have to fill it up and apply at least 2 months before the actual date of expiry.

    Applying for a pass would cost you S$150. A multiple journey visa would cost you S$30. The renewal might take up to 3 months or so, if you’re currently holding an EP or S Pass and it might take up to 8 weeks or so, if you’re currently holding an EntrePass or an EP (sponsorship) and renewing your dependent’s pass by post.

    If you fail to renew your dependent’s pass within the deadline, you’ll have to apply for a new pass.

  3. Long Term Visit Pass
  4. Are you currently on S Pass or Employment Pass? To bring in your dependent, unmarried handicapped child aged below 21, dependent, unmarried stepchild aged below 21 or common-law spouse, make use of this pass.

    If you’re currently earning a minimum monthly salary of S$6,000, you may be eligible for this pass. However, if you want to invite your parents to come over and stay with you in Singapore on a long-term basis, you’ll have to be earning a minimum of S$12,000 per month.

    Your employer or an authorised employment agent can apply for this pass on your behalf. Although the maximum validity of this pass is 2 years, the actual validity of this visit pass would depend on the validity of your employment pass.

    You’ll have to pay S$60 for each Long Term Visit Pass and S$30 for each Multiple Journey visa. If you’re currently holding an S Pass or EP, you can apply for renewal of this pass up to 6 months prior to its expiry.

    However, if you’re holding an EP (sponsorship) or an EntrePass, you’ll first have to receive a renewal form by post at least 3 months prior to the expiry of the pass and then submit it at least 2 months prior to the date of expiry.

    Remember that if you fail to apply for this pass before expiry, you’ll have to apply for an entirely new pass.

  5. Letter of Consent (LOC)
  6. Has your spouse or dependent child expressed a wish to be a part of Singapore’s workforce? You can support them by arranging for this letter. Your employer or an appointed agent will, however, have to step in and submit the application on your behalf.

    Any holder of a Dependent’s Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass can will be eligible for this pass, provided they meet the following criteria:

    • They’re dependent on you - a holder of an employment pass, a personalised employment pass or  an EntrePass.
    • They’re visiting Singapore on a Long Term Visit Pass and is married to you, a Singaporean citizen or PR.
    • He/she is aged below 21, unmarried, visiting Singapore on a long-term pass and is your offspring.
    • Their Dependent’s Pass or Long Term Visit Pass is valid for at least 3 months and they have a proper job offer from a Singaporean employer.

Are You a Foreigner Visiting Singapore? Here Are Some More Work Visa Options for You

  1. Miscellaneous Work Pass
  2. Are you coming to Singapore to deliver your keynote speech at a prestigious symposium or to cover a story for your newspaper or magazine? You’ll have to apply for this pass through your employer or local sponsor. Foreign religious workers can also apply for this pass.

    The pass is valid for a maximum period of 2 months and is non-renewable. Check the exact eligibility criteria before you apply for this pass. However, make sure to obtain a sponsorship from a local organisation first. In order to apply, an administrative fee of S$70 has to be paid. Approval can also take up to 2 months. Hence, apply with time on your hand.

  3. Work Pass Exempt Activities
  4. For certain work assignments in Singapore, you, as a foreigner, won’t require a work pass. However, you’ll still have to notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore after your arrival. You can visit Singapore under this pass only if you stay in Singapore for up to 90 days in a calendar year, on a single stint or multiple stints. However, the actual validity would be determined by the validity of your Short-Term Visit Pass.

    You must also satisfy the following conditions:

    • The activity in which you’re engaged, must be eligible under this pass. Your eligibility will, however, be assessed at an immigration checkpoint just like other visitors.
    • You need a Short-Term Visit Pass that will be valid during your stay.
    • Beware that starting an activity without notifying MOM can be deemed an offence, even if the activity falls under the Work Pass Exempt category.
    • Make sure that you’re compliant with other legal requirements such as professional registration before you arrive in Singapore.

    You won’t have to notify MOM if you’re participating in one of the following activities:

    • You’re here to attend a company meeting, corporate retreat or a meeting with a business partner.
    • You’re here to attend a study tour, workshop, training course or a seminar/conference/symposium as a participant.
    • If you’re just a visitor to a trade fair, you can enjoy this exemption.
  5. Work Pass Exemption for Foreign Students
  6. Has studying in Singapore, even if for a short period, been your dream? What if you also get to work along with your studies? The Government of Singapore has such a provision for foreign students. However, you’ll also need to

    If you’re a foreign student with a Student’s Pass, you’ll not be eligible for a work pass exemption if you’re:

    • Not a bonafide student in one of the institutes approved by MOM.
    • An international exchange student.

    If you’re a foreign student who satisfies the following conditions, you may be eligible for this exemption while working during a vacation if:

    • You’re a registered or full-time matriculated student at one of the institutes approved by MOM.
    • You’re aged 14 years or above.
    • You have a valid Student Pass issued by the ICA.
    • Your job doesn’t require you to work for more than 16 hours a week.
    • It’s a collaborative educational programme, jointly offered by a specific industry and your university or academic institute that directly contributes to your graduation.

    If you’re a foreign student at an approved educational institute who is waiting for his/her final result, you may be able to work in Singapore without a work pass, if the waiting period coincides with your vacation. Once your Student Pass expires, however, you’ll have to obtain a work pass to work in Singapore.

  7. Work Pass for Holders of Long Term Visit Passes Issued by ICA
  8. If your spouse, child, or some other dependent relative fulfils the requirements, decides to work in Singapore, he/she can do so provided he/she gets a work permit. Certain occupations are, however, inadmissible.

    Your dependent spouse can apply for a work pass only if the Long Term Visit Pass held by him/her is valid for a minimum of 4 months from the time of application. Make sure that the employer of your dependent has applied for a Letter of Consent (LOC), too.

    If you’re a Singaporean or PR, your unmarried child, aged below 21 years, can apply for a job, provided they get an LOC. Your parents or parents-in-law will, however, have to obtain a work permit before engaging in a job that offers remuneration and will be considered only under their employer’s overall quota.

    Other family members can start working in Singapore only if they qualify for a Work Permit/S Pass/EP on their own merit.

    If you’re accompanying your child, who is a foreign student in a Singaporean educational institution, you can’t work in the first year of your residence. You can, however, take up a job from the second year onwards, provided you find a local employer who can apply for and get you a work permit/S Pass/EP, depending on your qualifications, suitability for the job, and the terms of your employment contract.

    The Singapore dream looks good from outside. It’s even better on the ground. A Singaporean degree along with work experience makes you a valued catch for most companies around the world. A Singapore job gives you prestige, money, and most importantly security. What’s better? You may even be able to bring your family along and offer them a life that you could have only hoped for in your own country.

    There’s a foreign proverb that says: “A foreign cock can never crow in a foreign country.” Your stay in Singapore will tell you otherwise!

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