Understanding immigration laws and their excesses are crucial to living and working legally in a country as a foreigner. The same is true for foreigners working or looking to work in Singapore.
As a growing immigration destination in Southeast Asia, Singapore and its government have realized that foreign workers in the country, be they on an Employment Pass or S Pass, may need to establish a family life and reconnect with their spouses and/or children. This has led to the creation of the Dependant’s Pass (DP).
DP holders are able to live legally in the country but to be eligible to also work legally in Singapore, they used to only need a Letter of Consent (LOC) from an employer. Other than a confirmed job offer, employers must also in their letter state the DP holder’s job description and duration. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would give its approval when all these requirements are met.
However, on May 1st, 2021, all of this changed!
Different Work Visa Options For Dependant’s Pass Holders
To harmonize the employment process for all foreigners working in Singapore, MOM announced that from May 1st, 2021, a LOC alone would not be sufficient for Dependant’s Pass holders to work in the country legally. Apart from an exception made for DP holders who are business owners, DP holders with a LOC that was yet to expire were allowed to make use of it until the expiry date. All other DP holders must apply for a new work permit to remain eligible to work in Singapore.
As of today, unless you are a foreign business owner with a DP, you can apply for any of these three work visa options — Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit.
Employment Pass is reserved for the highest or most experienced expatriates in Singapore. Think in terms of the highest skilled professionals in any sector. Dependant’s Pass holders who fall under this category are advised to apply for this work visa option.
An Employment Pass has an initial validity period of two years. If granted, foreigners would have to renew the Employment Pass weeks before the expiration of the work visa. Upon renewal after the initial expiration, an Employment Pass will have its validity period increased to three years.
To be eligible to apply for an Employment Pass, a foreigner must satisfy all three requirements:
- A valid job offer is needed from a Singapore employer. The job’s salary must meet the minimum monthly rate of at least S$4,500. Applicants with more experience would need to earn higher than the minimum monthly salary requirement.
- The job offer must be in an executive, managerial, or specialized role/position. The applicant must prove beyond all doubt that he/she has the necessary skills to function in this position.
- The applicant must have obtained an academic degree from any Ministry of Manpower accredited institution.
The S Pass is another common work visa option for foreigners in Singapore. Unlike the Employment Pass, the S Pass is reserved for mid-level skilled foreign professionals. Applicants who are skilled but do not work in an executive or managerial role are eligible to apply for this work visa option. The S Pass also comes with a 2-year validity period. To remain eligible to continue working in Singapore, holders are always encouraged to apply for renewal before the expiration date.
To be eligible to apply for an S Pass, a foreigner must satisfy all of these three requirements:
- A valid job offer is needed from a Singapore employer. The job’s salary must meet the minimum monthly rate of at least S$2,500.
- Subsequently, applicants with higher experience need to earn higher than the minimum monthly salary.
- The applicant’s job experience must relate to the job position they are applying for or working for.
- Applicants should hold a diploma or a degree from any MOM-accredited institution. Technical certificates are also valid, as long as they require at least a single year of full-time study.
A Work Permit is the most basic work visa option for foreigners in Singapore. Applicants would ideally possess entry-level or basic professional skills. Like other work visa options, it also has a validity period of 2 years. However, a major perk of this visa option is that it doesn’t have any minimum monthly salary requirement.
However, according to the official MOM website, only applicants from certain source countries qualify for this work visa option. Unlike other options, there are no fixed requirements to obtain a Work Permit. Instead, applicants would have to first select the sector they intend to work in to find out about the specific requirements.
Irrespective of the chosen work visa option, Dependant’s Pass holders would not be granted automatic approval by MOM. Instead, since only a limited number of permits are issued yearly, MOM would evaluate all applicants fairly and give approval only to the best qualified.
Letter of Consent (LOC)
According to the Ministry of Manpower, only DP holders who are business owners can continue to work and operate their business in Singapore with a Letter of Consent. While this may seem like a relief, MOM does also impose certain eligibility requirements for business owners to qualify for the work pass. Failure to meet all requirements would mean the Dependant’s Pass holders would have to apply through other work visa options to work in Singapore legally.
These are the three eligibility requirements that business owners with DP must satisfy to continue working with a LOC.
- The business owner must be entitled to or own a minimum of 30% of the company’s shares.
- The business must employ at least one citizen or permanent resident of Singapore. This employee must earn at least S$1,400 as a monthly salary.
- The business owner should have contributed to this employee’s Central Provident Fund account for a minimum of three months.
Staying updated with the immigration laws of any country will help put a foreigner in the right standing with the country’s authorities. Singapore is committed to bringing in the best professionals to participate in and help build its economy. To create a level playing field when it comes to foreigners’ work visas, DP holders must now choose between any three work visa options to legally work in Singapore, except if they are business owners. Dependant’s Pass holders who own and run a business must be able to satisfy the eligibility requirements to continue using a Letter of Consent to operate in Singapore.