With a population comprising 36% foreigners, Singapore is undoubtedly Asia’s foremost business and work destination for people from many nations. The country, populated by 5.9 million people, only ranks next to Silicon Valley on KMPG’s 2020 List of Technological Innovation Hubs. The World Bank, at different times, has also designated Singapore as one of the best countries in the world to set up a business. No wonder the Southeast Asian country continues to attract the best talents globally.
Nevertheless, foreign personnel intending to set up a business or to work in Singapore must first understand the differences between Employment Pass (EP) and Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass). Unarguably the most common work visa types in Singapore, both share some features, although they are different in function. They are among the legitimate routes for foreign business executives and entrepreneurs to achieve their goal of relocation for work or business.
Given that many visa-seeking applicants often confuse these two work permits, it would be best to start with their definitions before itemising their differences.
What is Singapore’s Employment Pass (EP)?
EP is a special permit that individuals seeking to work in a company in Singapore or who already have a job offer from a company in Singapore must obtain to actualise their dreams. The employer is the one who should apply for this visa on behalf of the prospective employee.
The Singapore authorities require that employers first advertise any vacant position in their companies for locals to apply. Only when employers can demonstrate that there are no suitable candidates locally can they seek an alternative abroad. This requirement means that eligible candidates are usually highly sought-after professionals with enviable academic qualifications.
This pass or visa allows its beneficiaries to come with their immediate family, who can do so through the Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) or Dependant Pass (DP) route. EP is valid for two years for first-time candidates and three years upon subsequent renewals. One primary requirement for this visa is that candidates must secure a job paying at least S$4,500 monthly.
What Is Singapore’s EntrePass?
Singapore’s Entrepreneur Pass, aka EntrePass, is a permit issued to business tycoons, investors, or innovators who wish to relocate and establish businesses in Singapore. Like the EP, the visa permits its beneficiaries to come with their immediate family through established routes.
Candidates seeking an EP must present an innovative business plan if they are innovators or a third-party-funded business, detailing how the company will help citizens and residents alike. Eligible candidates have to hold a minimum of 30% share in the company they intend to establish in the country.
Similarities Between Employment Pass And Entrepass
- Both work permits or visas overlap in their requirements and functions in the following ways:
- Both permits are temporary but provide a valid route to permanent residency.
- The validity period for both permits is similar – between 1 & 2 years, depending on the applicants’ situation.
- Applications for both permits must undergo eligibility review by relevant Singapore authorities before approval.
- Holders of both permits must pay Personal Income Tax to the Singaporean government annually.
- Family members of the holders of both permits can accompany them through the DP or LTVP routes.
Differences Between Employment Pass And EntrePass
Here are some areas where the two permits differ:
EP places a lot of significance on applicants’ educational degrees, and the standard is a university degree from a top-rated university or professional body. EntrePass is less demanding of applicants’ academic standing so long as they have the required funding and a brilliant business idea.
EP does not require that applicants submit a business plan or previous investment records. Once they secure a job in the country and have the requisite qualifications, an EP applicant is ready for the next step. However, EntrePass requires business plans of not less than ten pages and a record of business incubation by a nationally-recognised body as part of its mandatory requirements.
EntrePass applicants seeking a renewal have to show a business spending of between $100,000 and $400,000 in the preceding year. This is not a requirement for EP.
Entrepreneurs or investors have up to six months before or after their company’s incorporation to apply for EntrePass. This leeway ensures business owners can be in Singapore to monitor the incorporation process. However, once they get the EntrePass, they must incorporate their business within thirty days.
For an Employment Pass, the applying company must first be incorporated before it can make an application. If the business owner wishes to relocate to Singapore six months after the business’s incorporation, they must apply for an EP.
Foreign nationals who are company directors, high-ranking professionals, or managers are eligible for EP. They need to first get a job offer from a company in Singapore or where they own a company; they must be one of its employees.
EntrePass, on the other hand, is for foreign investors, business tycoons, and innovators who plan to live and establish businesses in Singapore. To qualify, they must have a track record of establishing companies or investing in their home country or elsewhere.
The table below shows how, in a nutshell, these two passes differ:
|Business executives and staff
|Business founders with at least a 30% share in the company
|Official investment amount
|Official salary requirement
|At least S$4,500 monthly
|Main evaluation considerations
|Company’s stand and applicant’s educational profile
|Applicant’s investment precedents and how innovative their business plans are
|Applicants can apply anytime so long as their company is already incorporated
|The application must be submitted six months before or after incorporation.
|Processing timeline after submission
|Three to eight weeks
|Within eight weeks
|Initial issuance duration
|Between one & two years, depending on the reviewer’s discretion
The Employment and Entrepreneur Passes can both be suitable for any one business person or professional, but they differ in what each offers. Business founders will find EntrePass more practical, while high-ranking executives or staff are the main targets of EP.
If you consider getting any of the two, you may want to speak with an immigration agent for better guidance. Depending on your profile, they can help you determine which is the most suitable.