Hiring foreign workers in Singapore is subject to government employment guidelines. These guidelines have been adjusted over time as Singapore’s reliance on foreign manpower changes. In Budget 2020, the government announced an increase in qualifying salaries for S Passes and Employment Pass holders. S Pass quota will also be progressively reduced in various sectors such as manufacturing, construction and services.
In Singapore, the 3 main employment passes for foreign workers are the Work Permit, S Pass and Employment Pass. This article will focus specifically on the S Pass.
About S Pass
The S Pass permits mid-level skilled staff of all nationalities with relevant qualifications and work experience to work in Singapore. An S Pass lasts for 2 years and will need to be renewed upon expiry.
The S Pass application must be done by an employer or appointed employment agent on behalf of the applicant. If the pass holder changes jobs, the new employer has to apply for a new pass.
On top of that, it is important to know that the hiring of S Pass employees is subject to a quota and fee payments (i.e. levy and medical insurance).
Employers Must Adhere To The Tripartite Guidelines
Firstly, all employers need to adhere to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices and consider candidates fairly for job opportunities. This means that before hiring a foreign worker, they must advertise on MyCareersFuture with the proper job requirements and salary. This is to encourage employers to hire locals first before considering hiring foreign manpower.
The advertisement also has to be open for at least 14 consecutive days before the earliest date of S Pass application as shown below:
S Pass Is Subject To Foreign Worker Quota And Levy
An employer is subjected to a quota and payment of the monthly foreign worker levy for each S Pass holder employed. As of 1 Jan 2023, the S Pass quota will be:
- 10% for the services sector
- 15% for manufacturing sector
- 15% for construction, process and marine shipyard sector
As for the levy rates, employers generally have to pay $450 monthly for the basic tier 1 (Up to 10% of the total workforce). The levy rates will increase to $650 Tier 2. For more details on the quota and levy rates, you can refer here.
S Pass Eligibility Criteria
For a start, employers should be aware of the S Pass eligibility criteria:
- Have a job offer in Singapore.
- Earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,000 (all except financial services).
- Provide details of education qualifications from accredited institutions.
- Have relevant work experience.
However, there are also 2 important things to take note of.
Firstly, the salary should commensurate with the worker’s work experience. This means that older, more experienced applicants will require higher salaries to qualify for the S Pass criteria.
Secondly, when it comes to the criteria for qualifications, they must be derived from accredited institutions and should require at least 1 year of full-time study.
Just meeting the criteria doesn’t mean that the S Pass application will be a success once the criteria is met. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) evaluates each application on its own merit, based on various factors such as the candidate’s salary, relevancy of work experience and global rankings of educational institutions.
How to apply for S Pass
The S Pass application can be done online by an employer or appointed employment agent (EA) and are broadly broken down into 5 major steps. The MOM website has provided a good table summarizing the steps and results as seen below.
With that, here are the 5 main steps of the S Pass application process.
Step #1 Submit an application
After getting a written consent from the candidate, log in to myMOM Portal to fill out the application and upload the necessary documents. The whole process usually takes around 3 weeks and you need to pay a $105 fee for each application.
Once the application is approved, you can log in to EP Online and print the in-principle approval (IPA) letter. Remember to send the pass holder’s copy of the IPA to the candidate as it has a pre-approved single-entry visa for the candidate to enter Singapore.
In addition, the IPA offers a 60 days period for you to bring the candidate to Singapore and states whether he/she needs to go for a medical examination after arrival in Singapore.
Step #2 Prepare for candidates’ arrival
There are a couple of things to prepare for the candidates’ arrival in Singapore.
- Submit entry applications for them to enter Singapore.
- Buy medical insurance and work injury compensation insurance (if applicable) for them as per highlighted here.
- Upon arrival of the candidate, send them for a medical examination by a Singapore-registered doctor, if applicable.
Step #3 Issue the pass
Once the candidate is in Singapore, the employer has to log in to myMOM Portal and provide the required information and documents below:
- Candidate’s passport details
- Candidate’s Singapore contact details
- Candidate’s medical insurance details
- Candidate’s completed medical examination form. If certified fit to work, buy the Primary Care Plan for those for require to have it
- Candidate’s work injury compensation insurance details
- Candidate’s current Short-Term Visit Pass (STVP) or immigration pass details
- Candidate’s Singapore residential address, which must meet the housing requirements for you to get the pass issued.
- Singapore residential or office address to receive the candidate’s card
- Details of up to 3 authorised recipients to receive the card (their mobile number, email address and NRIC number / FIN / passport number)
PDF copies of these documents may also need to be uploaded:
- Candidate’s passport page showing the date of arrival in Singapore
- Completed medical examination form or medical declaration form
- Completed declaration form (attached to the candidate’s in-principle approval letter). The employer’s declaration of the form should be signed by an authorised human resource personnel, or an employee holding at least a managerial position.
After which, employers need to pay a $100 fee for issuance of each pass. Once completed, both the employer and candidate will receive the notification letter by email.
The notification letter acts as a ‘temporary S Pass’ because it allows the candidate to start work and travel in and out of Singapore while waiting for the pass card. It is valid for only 1 month from the date of issue.
Step #4 Registration of Fingerprint and Photo
Next, employers need to also check the notification letter if the candidate needs to register his fingerprints and photo. This must be done within 1 week after the pass is issued by making a visit to the MOM Services Centre – Hall C.
The candidate should bring along these documents for the appointment:
- Original passport
- Appointment letter
- Notification letter
Step #5 Receipt of S Pass card
The candidate is likely to receive within 5 working days after registration or document verification. Authorised recipients will also get an SMS or email with the delivery details at least 1 working day before the delivery.
This article was originally written on 14 December 2021 and has been updated with the latest information.
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