Singapore immigration guide.

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Singapore immigration guide

This is a complete guide to relocating and living legally in Singapore.

Singapore offers a variety of passes and permits that allow foreign employees, entrepreneurs, and their family members to live and work in Singapore. Each immigration option comes with certain benefits and requirements that a candidate and their employer must meet to be allowed to stay legally in Singapore.

Also, all foreign workers who intend to work in Singapore must have a valid pass before they start work. If you are engaging foreigners to work in Singapore, you must ensure that they hold a valid pass.

This immigration guide provides an overview of the most frequently used passes and permits in Singapore, and are divided into four main categories: professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers, family members, and residency.

Passes for professionals

1. Employment pass

Employment pass (EP) is a pass issued to professionals, managerial personnel, executives or specialists who wish to live and work in Singapore for more than six months.

Who it is forFor foreign professionals, managers and executives who:

  • Have a job offer in Singapore
  • Work in a managerial, executive or specialised job
  • Earn at least $3,900 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries)
  • Have acceptable qualifications, usually a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialised skills
Who can applyAn employer or appointed employment agent needs to apply on your behalf.
Length of application procedureApproximately three weeks.
What is the durationFirst-time candidates: up to two years
Renewals: up to three years
Is it renewableYes.
Passes for familyIf you hold an EP and earn at least S$6,000 per month you can apply for a dependant’s pass for the following family members:

  • Legally married spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21, including those legally adopted

If you hold an EP and earn at least S$6,000 per month you can apply for a Long Term Visit Pass for the following family members:

  • Common-law spouse
  • Unmarried disabled children above 21
  • Unmarried stepchildren under 21
  • Parents (only if you are earning at least S$12,000 a month)

2. EntrePass

The EntrePass allows eligible foreigners to start and operate a new business in Singapore. Find out what businesses are eligible, how to apply, and how to obtain your EntrePass in a fast and easy way.

Who it is forFor foreign entrepreneurs, innovators or investors wanting to start and operate a new business in Singapore and meet the eligibility criteria.
Who can applyYou can apply directly.
Length of application procedureApproximately eight weeks
What is the durationNew pass or first renewal: one year
Subsequent renewals: two years
Is it renewableYes.
Passes for family
  • To bring your spouse (common-law or legally married) and children, your total annual business spending must be at least $100,000, and you must employ three LQS (full-time employees who are Singaporeans and permanent residents and earn a monthly salary of at least S$1,300 and receive CPF contributions for at least three months) or one local PME (professional, manager or executive).
  • To bring your parents, your total annual business spending must be at least $200,000 and you must employ six LQS (full-time employees who are Singaporeans and permanent residents who earn a monthly salary of at least $1,300 and receive CPF contributions for at least three months) or two local PME (professional, manager or executive).

3. Personalised employment pass (PEP)

The Personalised Employment Pass is specifically designed for high-earning Employment Pass holders and overseas foreign professionals. It is not tied to an employer and offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass.

Who it is forFor overseas foreign professionals with a monthly salary overseas of at least S$18,000 or an Employment Pass holder earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$12,000 who meet the eligibility criteria.
Who can applyYou can apply directly.
Length of application procedureApproximately eight weeks
What is the durationUp to three years.
Is it renewableNo. The PEP is issued only once.
Passes for familyDependant’s Pass for your:

  • Spouse (legally married)
  • Children under 21 years of age

Long Term Visit Pass for your:

  • Common-law spouse
  • Unmarried disabled children above 21 years old
  • Unmarried stepchildren under 21 years old
  • Parents

Passes and work permits for skilled and semi-skilled workers

1. S pass

The S Pass allows mid-level skilled staff to work in Singapore. Candidates need to earn at least S$2,400 a month and have the relevant qualifications and work experience.

Who it is forMid-skilled technical staff who earn at least S$ 2,400 a month, have a degree or diploma, and relevant work experience.
Who can applyAn employer or appointed employment agent must apply on your behalf.
Length of application procedureApproximately one week
What is the durationUp to two years.
Is it renewableYes.
Passes for familyPass holders who have a fixed monthly salary of at least S$6,000, are eligible for a Dependant’s Pass for their spouse and children.
Quota or levyYes. Employers are subject to a quota and levy for S Pass employees.

2. Work permit for foreign worker

The work permit allows semi-skilled foreign workers from several countries to work in certain sectors.

Who it is forForeign workers coming from approved countries working in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process or services sector.
Who can applyThe employer or appointed employment agent needs to submit the application for the foreign worker.
Qualifying salaryNo.
Length of application procedureApproximately one week
What is the durationUp to two years, depending on the validity of the worker’s passport, security bond and employment period.
Is it renewableYes.
Passes for familyNot available.
Quota and levyYes. Employers are limited by a quota for their industry and must pay a monthly levy for each worker.

3. Work permit for foreign domestic worker

You need to apply for a work permit if you are hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW) to work in Singapore. Find out the requirements, how to apply and what to do during her employment.

Who it is forFemale foreigners employed as domestic helpers in Singapore. The FDW must be between 23 and 50 years old. If aged above 50, the FDW must renew their work permit until they reach 60 years old. The FDW must be of one of the following nationalities: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand.
Who can applyAn employer or appointed employment agent needs to submit the application for FDW.
Length of application procedureApproximately one week
Qualifying salaryNo minimum required.
What is the durationUp to two years, depending on the validity of the security bond.
Is it renewableYes.
Foreign worker levyYes. Employers must pay a monthly levy.

Passes for family members

1. Dependant’s pass

Where an employee of a company has been granted an Employment Pass, EntrePass or S Pass, she/he will often be accompanied to Singapore by a spouse and children. All accompanying family members need a pass to stay in Singapore.

Who it is forLegally married spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of Employment Pass or S Pass holders.
Who can applyAn employer or appointed employment agent must apply on your behalf.
Length of application procedureApproximately eight weeks
What is the durationUp to two years, tied to the validity of the Employment Pass/S Pass.
Is it renewableYes.
Work in SingaporeYes. Dependants of Employment Pass holders, EntrePass or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) holder can get a Letter of Consent to work in Singapore if they find a job.

Dependants of S Pass holders will need to apply for a work permit, S Pass or Employment Pass instead.

2. Long term visit pass

The Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) is for a common-law spouse, stepchild or disabled child of an Employment Pass or S Pass holder. Pass holders earning over $12,000 can also get a pass for parents. Find out about the pass and how Acclime can help you apply and obtain an LTVP.

Who it is forCommon-law spouse, stepchild or disabled child of Employment Pass or S Pass holders. Those earning over $12,000 can also bring in their parents.
Who can applyAn employer or appointed employment agent must apply on your behalf.
Length of application procedureApproximately three weeks.
What is the durationUp to two years, tied to the validity of the Employment Pass/S Pass.
Is it renewableYes.
Work in SingaporeYes. You first need to receive a job offer then your prospective employer will need to apply for an Employment Pass, S Pass or work permit for you.

Residency

 Permanent residency (PR)

Permanent residence (PR) application can be applied for by the whole family, i.e. the applicant himself plus the spouse and unmarried children under 21.

Who it is for
  • Spouse of a Singapore citizen (SC) or Singapore permanent resident (PR)
  • Unmarried child aged below 21 born within the context of a legal marriage to, or have been legally adopted by, a SC or PR
  • Aged parent of an SC
  • Holder of an Employment Pass or S Pass
  • Student studying in Singapore
  • Foreign investor in Singapore.
Who can applyYou.
Length of application procedureApproximately 4 to 6 months
What is the durationPR is valid with the re-entry permit (REP) for five years.
Is it renewableYes, you are required to renew your REP before the expiration date every five years.
Work in SingaporeYes. You first need to receive a job offer then your prospective employer will need to apply for an Employment Pass, S Pass or work permit for you.

Conclusion

Singapore’s quality of life ranks among the highest in the world. Some of the factors that contribute to the high quality of life in Singapore include the low crime rates, relative lack of corruption, high level of political stability, and strong economy.

The large number of people who choose to migrate to Singapore proves that the country is certainly an appealing destination for migrants. The city-state has thus adapted its regulations and policies to welcome but also regulate the rising immigrant and expat community. It is of utmost importance that immigration regulations are always thus followed to avoid high sanctions and deportations.

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