Employment Pass

Foreigners who would like to set up or work for a Singapore company, and be based in Singapore, will need to apply for a Singapore work pass visa. For entrepreneurs and skilled professionals, this will be an Employment Pass.

“Need to Knows” : The Singapore Employment Pass

Am I likely to qualify?

To encourage internal promotion and skills upgrading of local staff, and to attract only the most dynamic foreign talents, the eligibility criteria for a Singapore Employment Pass can be tough to satisfy. However, if you can meet the following criteria, you’re someone that Singapore wants:

Not sure that you meet the criteria for an EP but have a business idea burning inside you? There are other work passes that might be more suitable for you. Never say die! Contact us for a consultation on how best to realize your business dream in Singapore.

What documents and information do I need to apply for an EP?

If you work with a registered employment agency (like us), you will be asked to provide the following documents and information for an EP application to be drafted and submitted to the MOM:

In the course of processing your EP application, depending on the stage of business development, the MOM may ask the employer to provide additional documents relating to the physical presence of the company, including tenancy agreements, CPF/payroll records, business plan, photos, and so on. The key reason for this is to establish business continuity, specifically, the employer’s ability to pay the EP candidate’s full monthly salary regularly.

If you’d like a professional team to handle your application – for smooth processing and the avoidance of errors, contact us for a quote.

As an Employment Pass (EP) holder, am I allowed to invest in equity, i.e. own shares in a Singapore-incorporated company? I’m worried that the pass might be too restrictive.

Which company, or country no less, is going to refuse investment in a home-grown venture? (...Silence). Yep. Not one.

So, the short answer to this question is: Yes, EP holders are permitted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and ACRA to own shares in a Singapore-incorporated company. This can be the company in which you are employed, or an unrelated venture.

A wee caveat, however: the MOM may, on a case by case basis, restrict the percentage of shares you can own in a company that is not your employing company, if it is a controlling stake. This is because, as a condition of your EP visa, you are not permitted to engage in any enterprise activities/set up new entities, beyond the concerns of your immediate employer.

Also, in cases where your company is a one or two-man outfit whose shareholders are also the directors, the MOM and Singapore tax authority (IRAS) may ask you for proof that your influencing or controlling shareholding stake is not for the purpose of personal gain via tax-free dividends (i.e. to avoid paying personal income tax on salary and directors fees). Rather, it is because you are heavily invested in making your venture succeed, including proof of the hiring of skilled staff, rental of an office space, business development costs, etc.

So, the long answer is yes, as an EP holder you can invest in equity in Singapore-company, but you may be required to provide evidence that your intentions are genuine – and not for tax minimization purposes. If you’re not completely sure that your shareholding stake/intended stake is ‘A-okay’ with the regulators, contact us for a review of your situation.

Can I be a Director of my employing Company?

Firstly, yes, as an EP holder, you can be appointed as a Director of your employing company. No problem. Do make sure, though, that you are aware of the responsibilities that come with this important role. Being on the board carries just as much accountability as it does prestige.

Luckily, we are here to help you manage all your statutory reporting obligations, so you can concentrate on running your day-to-day operations. Ask us for a quote.

What about a Company that is not my employer? Can I also be a Director?

If the company is related to your employing company, yes you can. By related, the MOM means: subsidiary, group-affiliate company, parent company, and in rare cases: client or partner services firm or unrelated company, if being a Director on this company is integral to you performing your role and/or relevant to your primary occupation.

The company (that is not your employer) will first need to apply for a Letter of Consent (LOC) (i.e. obtain permission) from the MOM before you can be appointed to their board of Directors. We can help you to write to the MOM. Contact us or ask us for a quote.

Can I bring my family with me?

EP holders who earn at least SGD$6,000 per month (fixed salary), are able to apply for a ‘Dependant Pass’ long term visit visa issued by the MOM, for their spouse and unmarried children/legally adopted children (under 21 years of age).

If you have a common-law spouse/defacto partner, or stepchildren and handicapped adult children (over 21 years of age), they can still accompany you, but on a Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by the MOM (not the ICA). The LTVP is more restrictive in terms of the holder’s right to work, however, and if they are wish to work in Singapore then they will need to find their own local employer to sponsor them for a work pass.

If you need any help with the dependant's pass applications, do contact us.

You may wish to visit the Ministry of Manpower website for more information.


Contact a Work Pass Specialist

If you are interested in applying for an EP, it is advisable for you to seek professional help or get a free preliminary consultation with our work pass specialist.