Singapore’s population may have shrunk over the last year, but there are still a number of professionals looking to relocate to and find work in this exciting country.
Singapore is a popular relocation destination for professionals of all kinds, but especially those who work in the tech sector. Singapore has even been described as the Silicon Valley of Asia, with giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook all setting up shop within its borders in recent years.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a job in tech or another industry. You’ll still need a work permit before you can get hired and start your career here.
There are multiple types of work visas in Singapore, but one of the most popular options is known as the S Pass. Read on to learn all about it.
What Is the S Pass Work Permit in Singapore?
The S Pass is a common type of work permit Singapore offers to foreign workers. This short-term work permit typically lasts between 1 and 3 years (although it can be renewed), and it allows foreigners to be legally employed in Singapore.
The intent behind the S Pass (as well as other types of employment passes) is to make it possible for Singaporean businesses to hire talented individuals from all over the globe. At the same time, though, with its strict eligibility requirements (more on those in the following section), it’s also set up to encourage foreign companies to employ local Singaporean people and give them priority over foreign workers whenever possible.
The S Pass is specifically geared toward less skilled and non-technical workers who earn a minimum of $2,500 per month in a junior position. Examples of workers who might apply for an S Pass include technicians, accountants, and journalists.
Employers also need to verify that their employees’ salaries match up with their experience, qualifications, and skills before they can apply for an S Pass.
S Pass Work Permit Requirements and Eligibility
As with other types of work passes and permits, the S Pass comes with a set of specific criteria that you must meet before you can qualify. To be eligible for this particular Singapore job visa, you must check the following boxes before applying:
As was mentioned above, you must earn at least $2,500 per month to be eligible for the S Pass. Remember, though, that this limit is specifically set for younger workers in junior positions.
If you are an older worker looking to get hired for a higher-up position, your monthly earning requirements will be higher because you also have more work experience and more skills.
In addition to earning requirements, there are also education requirements to consider.
Applicants for the S Pass must have a degree or diploma before they can qualify. They must have earned it after spending at least 1 year studying full-time, too.
You must also have work experience that is relevant to the job for which you’re applying.
Remember, one of the main purposes of the S Pass is to bring skilled workers to help build up Singaporean businesses. If you’ve never worked in the industry of the company looking to hire you, the Singaporean government will likely be less inclined to grant you a work pass. They’d rather that job went to a local who has relevant experience, or to a more skilled and experienced foreign worker.
S Pass Self-Assessment Tool
Some people may read through the criteria listed above and know automatically that they are a good fit for the S Pass. Others, though, might be on the fence about whether or not they should apply for this type of work permit.
If you fall into the latter group, you may want to consider using the S Pass Self-Assessment Tool, which is available through the Ministry of Manpower. This tool is easy to use, is available 24-7, and helps you to determine your eligibility before you (and your potential employer) go through the process of applying for an S Pass.
The S Pass Self-Assessment Tool is a great option for those who are unsure of which pass is right for them. At the same time, though, it’s important to remember that this tool does not guarantee anything for you. You will still need to go through other checks, as will your employer, before you can be granted an S Pass or any other type of work visa.
This tool is simply meant to point you in the right direction, which can be a timesaver for both you, your potential employer, and the Singaporean government.
How It Works: Applying for the S Pass
Now, let’s get down to business and address what everyone wants to know when they’re learning about work visas Singapore has to offer: How do you apply for an S Pass?
If you’ve decided that the S Pass work permit in Singapore is the right option for you, here are the steps you and your employer will need to go through to help you get approved:
Get a Job Offer
Before we dive into the specific steps of the application process, keep in mind that only an employer or an appointed employment agent can apply for an S pass.
Because of this, you will need to receive a job offer from a potential employer before you can consider applying for this type of work permit. Then, you’ll work with that company to get approved as soon as possible.
If you haven’t received a job offer from a company in Singapore yet, take a few steps back and start searching for businesses that are hiring workers like you. The GrabJobs Singapore Jobs page is a great place to kick off your search. It allows you to narrow down your options based on skills requirements, salary, location, and more.
When searching for Singapore jobs, make sure that every company you consider applying to also has their job listed on the MyCareersFuture website. The government requires this step because it ensures the position is open to both foreign workers and Singaporean workers.
For more help on finding a job in Singapore, check out some of our other guides, too. Our GrabJobs Salary Guide Article, Salary Guide Tool for Singapore, and list of the Most In-Demand Jobs in Singapore are all excellent resources.
Use these tools to find the right job for you, submit an impressive application, and nail the interview process. Once you’ve received a job offer, your potential employer will go through the following steps (updating you and asking for information along the way) to help you get the proper permit so you can start working.
Submit an Application
To submit an application for an S Pass, your potential employer will need to get written consent from you giving them permission to apply on your behalf. They may also ask for information related to your education or work history to help them fill out the application correctly.
After they’ve filled out the online form, the business will need to pay a $105 application fee. If the application is approved, they will receive a printable document known as an in-principle approval (or IPA) letter. They’ll send a copy to you, which includes a pre-approved, single-entry visa for you to travel to Singapore.
Prepare for Arrival
Within 60 days of the application being approved, you will need to travel to Singapore and undergo a medical exam.
To help you prepare for this, your employer will need to submit an entry application, purchase medical insurance and work injury compensation insurance. They must also make you aware of the country’s current requirements for foreign visitors.
Requirements for foreign visitors include compliance with Stay-Home Notices and mandatory COVID-19 tests. Of course, you will then need to follow through with all of these requirements to avoid jeopardizing your ability to stay in the country (and start working here).
Get S Pass Issued
Once you’ve arrived in Singapore, your employer will need to log in to the Ministry of Manpower portal and pay a $100 fee for your S Pass. Once it’s issued, you and your employer will receive a notification letter via email.
This letter allows you to start working and travelling in and out of Singapore while you wait for your official S Pass card. It will also indicate whether or not you need to have your fingerprints and photo taken for your pass.
To get the pass issued, your employer will need to provide the following details:
- Your passport details
- Your Singapore contact details
- Your medical insurance details
- Your work injury compensation insurance details
- Your Short-Term Visit Pass (STVP) or immigration pass details
- Your Singapore residential address and office address
Your employer may also need to upload PDF copies of the following documents:
- Your passport page to show your arrival date in Singapore
- Your completed medical examination form
- Your completed declaration form, which should be attached to your IPA letter
Register Fingerprints and Photo
Within 1 week of receiving your pass, if fingerprints and a photo are required, you will need to get these things registered.
Your notification letter will let you know whether or not fingerprints and a photo are needed. If they are, you’ll make an appointment to visit the Ministry of Manpower Services Centre (Hall C, specifically). Bring the following documents to your appointment:
- Your original passport
- Your appointment letter
- Your notification letter
Receive the S Pass
Within 4 working days of registering or verifying your document, your S Pass will be delivered to the address listed on the forms. You will receive an email or SMS message with specific delivery details at least 1 working day before the delivery is scheduled.
If the delivery is unsuccessful after two attempts, you’ll need to go to Hall C at the Ministry of Manpower Services Centre to pick it up in person.
You can do this 3 days after the second delivery attempt, and you do not need an appointment. You will, however, need to bring the following documents:
- Your original passport
- Your notification letter
Someone else can also be sent to pick up the pass, but they must have an authorization letter from your employer.
S Pass Frequently Asked Questions
Are you still feeling a little confused about the S Pass? If so, the answers to these frequently asked questions may shed more light on this particular work pass and help you feel more confident:
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved?
On average, it takes about 3 weeks for the S Pass application to be either approved or denied. Some cases do take longer than this, but most people hear back within the 3 week period.
After you’ve received your approval letter, you also have 60 days to travel to Singapore and continue with the steps required to finalize the process. From here, things move fairly quickly, and you’ll likely be able to start work within a few weeks.
What About My Dependents if I Have an S Pass?
If you are approved for an S Pass, your dependents can qualify for a Dependent Pass in Singapore to travel here with you. The Dependent Pass Singapore is available to the dependents (spouses, children, etc.) of those who meet the following criteria:
- Hold an S Pass or Employment Pass
- Earn a monthly salary of at least $6,000 (individually, not combined household income)
- Are sponsored by an established and Singapore-registered company
What Is the Difference between an S Pass and Employment Pass in Singapore?
Along with the S Pass, a Singapore Employment Pass is another common work permit.
The Singapore Employment Pass is similar to the S Pass, but it’s geared toward foreign professionals in specialized, managerial, and executive roles. Candidates must earn at least $4,500 per month in junior positions ($5,000 for applicants in the financial sector), and they must have received qualifications from accredited institutions.
Can I Get Health Insurance with an S Pass?
By law, employers are required to buy and maintain health insurance for you for as long as you work for them. This coverage must total at least $15,000 per year, and it must cover day surgery and inpatient care.
When Do I Need to Renew My S Pass?
After you’ve received your S Pass, you can keep it for up to 2 years before you need to renew.
How Often Can I Renew My S Pass?
Your S Pass can be renewed indefinitely for as long as work for a particular Singapore-based and registered company.
It’s worth noting, though, that no renewal is guaranteed. The Singaporean government reserves the right to deny a renewal request for any reason (and reasons are typically not provided).
Remember, this information isn’t meant to scare you away from seeking employment, but rather to make you aware of the realities of working in this country. If you plan to work here long-term, you may eventually want to look into other, more permanent work permit options.
Final Thoughts on the S Pass Work Permit
Are you feeling more prepared to apply for an S Pass work permit in Singapore? If this is the right work pass for you, follow the steps outlined above and you’ll be well on your way to getting hired and starting your new career here.
Before you apply for any Singapore job visa, do you need more help finding job openings? If so, our career resources page is full of helpful information, from job-seeking tips and to guides for nailing job interviews. Check it out today to learn more.