Work visa in Singapore
Singapore. Photo: CNBC

Secure a work visa successfully and complete your employment contract

Singapore is a beautiful place to be living and working in. The perk of living in Singapore is immense since it is one of the high-income today’s economies. This is a reason foreigners would want a work visa.

The city-state is one of the most developed countries in the world, and its economy is booming. As a result, there are many opportunities for skilled workers in Singapore, and the cost of living is relatively low compared to the income.

Are you wondering how to get a work permit or how long does it take to get a work permit in Singapore? If so, keep reading this blog.

What is a work visa?

A work visa is a document that allows a foreign national to enter and work in a country for a specific period. Work visas are typically granted for a specific job and employer. If the primary applicant is eligible, they can sponsor their spouse and children to live with them.

Similarly, the Singapore work visa allows foreign nationals to work in Singapore. There are different types of work visas available, depending on the applicant’s qualifications and the type of work they will be doing.

Additionally, the employer or the company in Singapore must provide the foreign employee with a monthly salary, medical insurance, and a security bond.

How do work visas work?

As mentioned earlier, a work visa is a permission granted by a country to allow a foreign national to enter and work in the country for a specific period. To obtain a work visa, the foreign national must have a job offer from a company in the country. In addition, the company must also prove that they were unable to find a qualified candidate for the position from within the country.

However, to obtain a work visa or permit, you must qualify for the job, undergo a recruitment process, and meet the eligibility criteria; only then can you get the work visa. For some work visas, you must meet the rigorous visa requirements. Some of them include but are not limited to:

– Have the required qualifications

– Have the necessary documents

– Have a fixed minimum monthly salary offered to you

– Have an offer in the eligible work fields

– Have experience in the work fields for the required number of years

– You have a valid job contract

– You agree with the work terms and conditions

– Your employer has the correct company documents and registration certificate

– Your employer or hiring company meets the quotas and levies stipulated by the government

– You must not engage in activities that are not allowed under the work visa

– You only work in the specified work field or company in your work permit

– You cannot start up or run your own business on a work visa or permit

Suppose you do not have the necessary documents or do not meet the conditions required to qualify for a work visa. In that case, you cannot continue the application process, or your work visa application can be denied.

Different types of work visas

In Singapore, there are several different types of work passes and permits available. And each work pass, you need to meet specific requirements stipulated by the Singapore Government’s [Ministry of Manpower Website (MOM). You must get the necessary work visa or permit before you start working in Singapore. Some of the work passes are categorised as follows:

– [For Professionals] (#for-professionals)

– [For Skilled and Semi-skilled Workers] (#for-skilled-and-semi-skilled-workers)

– [For Trainees and Students] (#for-trainees-and-students)

– [For Family Members] (#for-family-members)

– [For Short Term] (#for-short-term)

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For professionals

Singapore Employment Pass: This work pass is available to foreign professionals in managerial, executive, or specialised jobs that earn at least SG$4,500 a month. They must also have acceptable qualifications.

Singapore EntrePass: The EntrePass is available for foreign entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators, or experienced investors wishing to start and operate a business in Singapore. They must also meet all the [eligibility requirements].

Singapore Personalised Employment Pass (PEP): Available to foreign professionals with a fixed monthly salary of at least SG$18,000 or an employment pass holder that earns SG$12,000 in fixed monthly earnings.

For skilled and semi-skilled workers

Singapore S Pass: Foreign nationals with relevant work experience and qualification certificates and who can earn a minimum of SG$2,500 are eligible.

Singapore Work Permit for Migrant Workers: Foreign nationals of certain countries are eligible in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, or services sector.

Singapore Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker: Foreign nationals from specific countries meeting the age requirements can apply. The employer must also pay the employee’s relevant security bond and medical insurance. 

Singapore Work Permit for Performing Artiste: This work visa is for foreign performing artists eligible to work in public entertainment outlets such as bars, nightclubs, or hotels.

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For trainees and students

Training Employment Pass: With this pass, foreign professionals can undergo practical training in Singapore should they meet the requirements and earn a minimum of SG$3,000 per month.

Work Holiday Pass (under Work Holiday Programme): Foreign nationals of specific countries are eligible for this pass for ages 18 and 25, valid for only 6 months. A similar programme is also available for Australian students and graduates, valid for 1 year.

Training Work Permit: This training work permit allows unskilled or semi-skilled international students/trainees to undergo practical training for up to 6 months.


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For family members

Dependent’s Pass: Allows the spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of employment or S pass holder to stay in Singapore and work. The employment or S pass holder must earn a minimum fixed monthly salary of SG$6,000.

Long-Term Visit Pass: Allows the spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of employment or S pass holder that earns a minimum of SG$12,00 to stay in Singapore and work.

Pre-approved Letter of Consent: The letter of consent or LOC is for the eligible spouses or children of Singapore citizens or permanent residents. There is other LOC available such as Letter of Consent for ICA-issued LTVP/LTVP+ holders and Letter of Consent for Dependent’s Pass holders who are business owners in Singapore.

For Short Term

Singapore Miscellaneous Work Pass: This work pass is for foreign workers on a short-term Visit Pass to Singapore, such as speakers, religious workers, and journalists. They can carry out short-term work for a maximum period of 60 days.

Documents required for work visa application process

For any visa application, you need to gather the necessary documents. In the case of work visas and permits, the required documents will depend on the work visa or pass you are applying for. In addition, some documents must be provided by the employer or company in Singapore. Therefore, the documents mentioned below do not include all the required documents and are only a general guideline:

 – A valid passport

– Singapore Work Visa application form completed and signed by you

– Resume or CV entailing your work experience in detail

– Two colour passport-size photographs

– Proof of qualifications such as diploma or degree certificate

– Letter of Introduction (LOI), if applicable

– Documents in a language other than English must be translated and certified

– Documentation of the company or business

– Proof of vaccination

– Additional supporting documents required for the pass or permit

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What is the work visa application process?

For most work visas, the employer or the hiring company in Singapore will apply for your work visa or permit. They can directly apply from the [Employment Pass website] or hire an employment agency (EA) to assist them. Let us look at the step that you would need to take to get your work permit possibly:

Find a job in Singapore

The very first towards working in Singapore is for you to get a job. Finding a job can be difficult and could take a while, considering how the Singapore government is pushing for the hire of the locals first. However, it is not impossible because of how many ex-pats are currently employed in Singapore.

Start the work visa application process

You will start your visa application process from the country where you are currently residing in. And as mentioned earlier, your employment agency or employer in Singapore will start the visa application process for you. Additionally, due to the complexity and the difficulty of the work permit application processes applying through an agent is advised.

Your employer will also pay the application fee on your behalf. Some employers or companies cover all the costs related to the work visa application process.

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Visit the country

Once your application is approved, your employer or EA will receive an In-Principal Approval (IPA) letter. This letter will allow you to enter Singapore and continue with the rest of the application process.

You must have a copy of the IPA letter allowing you to enter the country. You can enter the country within 60 days of the IPA letter issuance. If you receive the In-Principal Rejection letter, it will mean that your application was denied, and you cannot move to Singapore.

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Apply for the work pass or permit

Once in Singapore, your employer must submit the documents on the MOM website and pay the relevant fees to get your pass. If your work pass is issued, your employer will receive the notification letter, which provides information on where you can get your biometrics taken.

Register your fingerprints and photos

With the notification letter, you will visit the MOM Services Centre within 1 week to provide your photograph and fingerprints.

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Get the card

The last step is you receive your Pass Card or Permit, which will allow you to live and work in Singapore until your visa expires. It could take about 4 working days to receive your card after the biometrics. With many work passes, you can even renew them. This is not to be confused with the SG Arrival Card which is also needed to enter Singapore. Visit Natvisa for more details. 

How long does it take to get work visa?

Honestly, the work visa process is never straightforward and can be very time-consuming from the employee and employer sides. On top, the Singapore government can be strict, and your visa application will undergo comprehensive review and high scrutiny before it is approved. When an application is submitted online, the processing time is shorter than when applied physically at an application centre.

If your employer has submitted your work permit application online, it could take anywhere from one to three weeks. However, remember that it can take up to 5-7 weeks if it is applied for in person. So, when applying for your work pass or permit, you should expect to wait 1-3 months after your application is submitted.

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What is the validity of work visas?

The work permit duration is typically two years; however, it may be less. The remaining validity of your passport determines how long you can work. One month before the expiration of your passport, your work permit will also expire. It may, however, differ from the Employment term and depend on many other factors. Some of the work passes and permits allow you to renew them.

What is the cost of a Singapore visa?

Before you know of the work permit costs, remember that you do not have to pay these fees and are covered by the employer or company in Singapore. However, the fees for each work pass or permit will differ, and an additional fee for the entry visa must be considered.

Generally, the employer must pay several different visa fees throughout the application process. The application fees range anywhere from SG$35 to SG$105, and the issuance fee ranges from SG$35 to SG$225. For example, an S Pass costs SG$105, and an approval fee of SG$100 is payable upon issuance of the pass. In addition, relevant work pass renewal must be paid when renewing.

That’s all

Applying for a Singapore work visa can be difficult if you do not know where to start. But hopefully, this blog has been informative and has you understood all the different requirements and the application process. You are now ready to start your own work visa application for Singapore. Good luck!


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