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Aarathi Arumugam
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Aarathi Arumugam is a licensed immigration specialist and the co-founder of SES International and The SES Solutions Agency that enables foreign businesses and expats to get set up and settled in Singapore and the Asian market.

SES International

June 19, 2018

The Need to Know - Work Passes for Entrepreneurs and Businesses in Singapore

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If you are looking to start up a business in Singapore; the phrase “work pass” will soon become second nature to you. A work pass is essentially a temporary residency scheme allowing foreigners and their immediate family to relocate to Singapore.

All applications for work passes to operate in Singapore must be submitted to the ministry of Manpower (MOM) and are subject to their approval.

Which pass do I apply for?

How your business is structured will influence which pass is applicable to it.

There are two main passes for business owners or managers in Singapore:

  1. EntrePass
  2. Employment Pass (EP)

Both passes are renewable and usually issued for 1-2 years. The pass holder will have to be paid a salary from the company and they will be liable to pay income tax in Singapore based on annual salary. 

EntrePass

The EntrePass is for those who are founders of a new business (a private limited company). It requires significant investment and a proven track record.

Requirements:

  • Minimum $50,000 paid-up capital
  • Not yet incorporated or less than 6 months old at time of application
  • 30% shareholder
  • No stipulated salary requirement

In addition to the above, ANY of the minimum eligibility criteria for application as either an entrepreneur, innovator or investor must be met (as defined by the MOM):

http://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/entrepass/eligibility

The EntrePass scheme has been designed to encourage the launch of innovative businesses in Singapore. The applicant needs to demonstrate a significant concept/idea and a robust, measurable business model. Clear milestones of success should be included in your business plan document.

Allow 6 - 8 weeks for processing.

Employment Pass (EP)

If the EntrePass criteria is not appropriate for the company, then an Employment Pass (EP) should be considered.

The Employment Pass is a type of work visa issued to foreign professional employees, managers, and owners/directors of Singapore companies. The EP will allow you to work for that company and in the role applied for only.

One main advantage of the EP is that no paid-up capital is required as for the EntrePass; more emphasis is placed on applicants’ educational qualifications. It is about individual and company credentials.

Requirements:

  • Current salary minimum is S$3,600 a month (the salary floor increases in relation to the candidate's experience)
    • The threshold is $5,000 a month to apply for a family visa, known as a dependant's pass (this is deemed spouse and unmarried children)
  • Educational qualifications – tertiary degree or applicable trade qualifications
  • High level of professional experience in their field

If you a shareholder of the company over 30%, MOM may ask you to apply for the EntrePass.

Allow 3 - 8 weeks for processing.

Allow 4 weeks to prepare and submit all documents

Ensure all copies of documents are good quality and legible. Documents may be rejected or requested for resubmission if even simple information is missing or illegible. There is an appeal process if an application is rejected and depending on which pass, can take between 3-8 weeks.

The advice from a registered and licensed agency can help expediate the submission process and reduce the lead time enabling you to concentrate on managing your business.'

Also read: 10 Things to Consider Before Relocating to Singapore

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Aarathi Arumugam is a licensed immigration specialist and the co-founder of SES International and The SES Solutions Agency that enables foreign businesses and expats to get set-up and settled in Singapore and the Asian Market.

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