Understanding Work Visas in Singapore: A Guide for Expat Employees

Understanding Work Visas in Singapore: A Guide for Expat Employees

With its strategic location and robust economy, Singapore has long been a hub for business, making it a prime destination for expatriates worldwide. But before exploring the city’s rich opportunities, it’s crucial to navigate its work visa landscape and make it a key part of your checklist when planning your move here. After all, every expat aiming to work in the Lion City requires an appropriate work visa or pass. With multiple options tailored for varied professions, skill sets, and familial situations, knowing which is right for you can seem daunting. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown to ease your transition:

Different types of work visas in Singapore

Singapore offers a variety of visas tailored to the unique situations of each expat. While there are numerous work passes and permits available, we will spotlight the most relevant ones to help you navigate your move to this dynamic city-state. 

Employment Pass (EP)

The Employment Pass, often referred to as the E Pass, is a work pass tailored for professionals, managers, and executives. To be eligible, candidates should possess a job offer in Singapore. The E Pass salary criterion starts at a minimum of S$5,000 monthly, and individuals will also have to pass the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).


Singapore’s EntrePass is tailored for foreign entrepreneurs, especially those steering innovative or venture-backed businesses. Open to all nationalities, it’s designed for those who have initiated or plan to establish a private limited company registered with ACRA. If already registered, the company should be under six months old; if not, registration can follow post-application outcome. This work pass caters to serial entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors, offering an initial one-year visa, extendable in two-year increments. 

Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) 

The Personalised Employment Pass in Singapore caters to high-earning professionals, offering a unique work visa valid for three years and a salary benchmark of S$22,500 monthly. This non-renewable pass allows employment across most sectors, eases job transitions without reapplication, and grants a six-month grace period for job searches, underscoring its unparalleled flexibility and exclusivity.

Skilled Pass (SP) 

The Skilled Pass is designed for mid-tier skilled workers. The starting salary benchmark is S$3,150 monthly. Employers or designated agents handle the application, and a job change necessitates a new application. Notably, qualifying salaries align with the top third of local APT figures, ranging from S$3,150 to S$4,650 by mid-40s.

Dependent Pass

The Dependent Pass serves as an essential bridge for the families of expatriates. Specifically, this pass is designed for legally married spouses and unmarried children (below the age of 21) of individuals holding either an E Pass or an S Pass. Unlike some other passes, the application for this pass must be made by the primary work pass holder’s employer or an appointed employment agent. Its validity is directly intertwined with the principal work pass, with a maximum duration of up to two years.

Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP)

The Long-Term Visit Pass in Singapore is tailored to accommodate a broader range of family relations for professionals working in the country. This pass is specifically intended for the common-law spouses, step-children, or handicapped children of individuals who hold either an E Pass or an S Pass. Additionally, if the main work pass holder earns a salary exceeding S$12,000, they are granted the privilege to bring their parents to Singapore under this pass.

The application process: Challenges & solutions

Navigating the process of securing a work visa in Singapore is generally straightforward, though certain challenges can arise. Accurate documentation is crucial. Once submitted, applications typically take a few weeks for initial feedback, but this can fluctuate. Rejections can also occur for various reasons, such as shifts in Singapore’s foreign worker policies or quota constraints. While this can seem daunting, there are resources and strategies to help streamline the process, including: 

  • Stay updated: The official website of The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is your go-to place for current visa regulations and guidelines in Singapore.
  • Seek expert assistance: Immigration consultants can offer pivotal help, guiding you whether you’re discerning how to apply for an EntrePass or navigating the complexities of E Pass and S Pass applications.
  • Managing delays: Keep an open line of communication with your prospective Singapore employer. Most organisations can adjust joining dates or suggest temporary solutions in the case of visa delays.

Importance of health insurance

Upon sorting your visa, prioritising health insurance is of the essence. Although Singapore’s healthcare is top-notch, without proper insurance, costs can skyrocket. Expat Insurance’s medical insurance is an exemplary fit for expatriates, ensuring you’re well-covered. Our health cover includes protection against outpatient medical costs and inpatient health emergencies. Getting the right types of coverage when moving will mean you’re secured, permitting you to immerse in your new venture with gusto.

If you’re an employer applying for a work visa for your new international hire, exploring our employee benefits solutions and group medical insurance options can be invaluable to ensure a smooth transition for them.

Singapore stands as an enticing hub for global mavens. Grasping its visa structure ensures you embark on your journey seamlessly. Once there, gird yourself with potent insurance, and here’s wishing you an enriching stint in the Lion City.