As a country founded on the hard work and graft of its population, Singapore had always welcomed foreign talents to land and take up roots in Singapore.  Studies have shown that while immigration into Singapore is not new – peoples of various races have since migrated to Singapore to seek their livelihoods and fortunes since its founding by the East India Company in 1819 – the emphasis on the type of talent required has constantly evolved to fit the needs of the nation.

Over the next few weeks, I will explain the types of passes that you will require for working, living or playing in Singapore.  But first, allow me to share with you the underlying principles which are key to understanding Singapore’s immigration policies and law.

The Immigration Act (Cap 133) states that no one may enter Singapore or remain in Singapore without a valid pass unless he or she is a citizen of Singapore. Any contravention of this requirement is a serious offence and may result in fines of up to S$6,000, caning up to 3 strokes and imprisonment of up to 6 months.

The Immigration Act provides a wide discretion to the Minister for prescribing the terms of such passes.  This includes the validity period, criteria, creation of new passes and the administration of these passes and may change from time to time.  Currently, a non-Singaporean may enter and stay in Singapore on the following passes:

Types of passesDurationPurpose
Short Visit Social Visit PassUp to 89 Days, excluding extensionSocial purposes, medical treatment, certain work activities for duration of less than 60 days.
Long Term Social Visit PassMore than 89 Days.If visitor’s spouse, parent or children are Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents;If Visitors are students of Institutions of higher Learning in Singapore and seeking employment after graduationIf visitor is a 陪读妈妈 or grandma to a child/grandchild on Student’s Pass.  If Visitor wishes to deliver Child in Singapore. If Visitor is a common law spouse, step children or handicapped children f a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
Training Work Pass6 monthsSemi-skilled or unskilled employees from related overseas companies to undergo training in Singapore; orForeign students studying in educational institutions in Singapore.
Student’s PassDuration of course/yearFor full time study in an accredited school in Singapore or Private Education Institution
Work PermitAt discretionWork purposes, monthly salary cap at S$2,200 and within prescribed age at time of application
S PassAt discretionWork purposes, minimum monthly salary of S$2,200 and within prescribed age at time of application
Employment Pass/Personalised Employment PassAt discretionWork purposes, minimum monthly salary of S$3,000
EntrePassAt discretionBusiness owners, subject to rules.
Work Holiday Programme pass6 monthsFor internships.
Dependant’s PassAt discretionIf Visitor is a legally married spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of age, including adopted children.

The Ministry of Manpower has set up a “Pass Navigator” site, which helps you to decide the best pass to apply for your needs.  You can find it at http://www.mom.gov.sg/pass-navigator/Pages/pass-navigator.aspx.  The site is available only in English, the main official and work language in Singapore.

For assistance regarding employment matters, do contact us to make an appointment.

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Pei Fang Lim

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