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S Pass Application in Singapore: Requirements and Procedures

  • Published: 6 June 2024
  • 13 min read
  • Starting a Company
S Pass Application in Singapore: Requirements and Procedures
  • Author Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

    Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

    Business Writer

    Gabi's passionate about creating content that inspires. Her work history lies in writing compelling website copy and content, and now specialises in product marketing copy. When writing content, Gabi's priority is ensuring that the words impact the readers. As the voice of Osome's products and features, Gabi makes complex business finance and accounting topics easy to understand for small business owners.

Learn the essentials about the S Pass application in Singapore, including individual eligibilities, required documents, application process, and employer requirements, as well as ways to navigate through the process if your application hits a snag.

Key Takeaways

  • S Pass is a work pass issued by the Singapore government to mid-level skilled foreign workers and comes with eligibility criteria such as a minimum qualifying salary, which starts at S$2,300 and varies by sector and qualifications.
  • Applying for an S Pass requires an employer or appointed employment agent to initiate the application online, submit necessary educational and professional documentation, and understand the quota and levy system, which limits the number of S Pass holders a company can employ.
  • S Pass holders have financial obligations and rights such as meeting minimum salary requirements, providing medical insurance, renewing or cancelling the pass as needed, and applying for a dependent’s pass for families or considering transitioning to permanent residency.
  • Singapore's three most popular work passes are S Pass, Employment Pass, and Work Permit.

Understanding the S Pass in Singapore

At its core, the S Pass is a work visa intended for mid-level skilled foreign employees in important industries, such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, aerospace engineering, and electronics.

However, the S Pass is more than a mere work permit; it is a gateway to career progression and international work exposure. Whether you’re an aerospace engineering expert looking to immerse yourself in cutting-edge technological developments, a healthcare professional eager to make a global impact, or a manufacturing specialist keen on innovative practices, the S Pass can be your stepping stone.

Tip

Additionally, if you're considering a broader range of employment opportunities, Osome offers comprehensive Employment Pass application services to help you secure the right permit for your professional needs. Contact us today!

Understanding the S Pass in Singapore

With the S Pass, you’re not just a worker in Singapore – you’re a contributor to its economic success. The Singaporean government recognises the value of foreign talent in driving growth, and the S Pass is a testament to its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce.

S Pass Eligibility Requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify for an S Pass in Singapore:

  • A valid job offer in Singapore that offers the required fixed monthly salary.
  • Educational qualifications.
  • Relevant work experience.

The minimum qualifying salary for S Pass applicants typically starts at $3,000 per month but varies based on the applicant’s qualifications and experience. While this is not a high salary, it is also marked up progressively according to your age and experience.

Different sectors also have different qualifying salaries. For example, the financial sector's qualifying salary starts at SGD $3,500, whereas other sectors require a starting salary of $3,000.

If you don't qualify for a S Pass, don't worry. You may qualify for other work passes offered by Singapore.

Key Differences Between S Pass and Other Work Passes

S Pass vs. Employment Pass (E Pass)

S Pass is often compared to another popular work pass option in Singapore: the Employment Pass.

The Employment Pass is designed for professionals with advanced expertise who are often in managerial or specialised roles. It is often used by companies wishing to set up a representative office in Singapore.

To qualify for an Employment Pass, pass holders must make at least the Employment Pass qualifying salary, which is benchmarked to the top 1/3 of local PMET salaries and progressively increased by age. The current qualifying salary, starting at age 23, is $5,000 for any non-financial sector and $5,500 for the financial service sector.

To qualify for the Employment Pass, a candidate must score at least 40 points in the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). The framework is a self assessment tool designed to ensure workforce quality and diversity within a company. The candidate must also provide additional documents to vouch for their advanced expertise in the employed field.

S Pass vs. Work Permit

Work Permit is the most basic form of work visa issued by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MoM). MOM issues work permits to lowly or semi-skilled workers. Hence, work permits have the lowest eligibility standards that are fairly easy to meet. A work permit is often used in labour-intensive construction, service, marine shipyard, and manufacturing industries.

Note that only Malaysian workers can reside in Singapore during the work permit application period.

The biggest concern with the Work Permit is that each sector has a separate quota. A new policy launched on September 1, 2023, allowed employers to employ migrant workers using the Work Permit from Non-Traditional Sources (NTS) for positions listed in the NTS Occupation List. This means a large workforce will compete for the work permit against limited opportunities.

Initiating Your S Pass Application

After establishing your eligibility for an S Pass, you can commence the application process. But who can initiate the application, and what are the necessary steps? Let’s explore this in the following subsections.

Employer or Employment Agent: Who Can Apply?

Employers or appointed employment agents are often responsible for initiating pass applications. Whether you’re an employer looking to hire foreign talent or a third-party agency working for a company, you can apply for the S Pass online.

But your role doesn’t end with just application submission. If required, the authority to cancel an S Pass also lies with the employers and employment agents. Therefore, comprehending the entire process, from application to cancellation, is key to a seamless experience for both the employer and the foreign worker.

Required documents

The cornerstone of these is your educational certificates, as they validate your qualifications for the job offer in Singapore. So, be prepared to furnish proof of your educational credentials when applying for the S Pass.

Another crucial document is the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter. This letter signals the preliminary approval of your application, subject to the submission of the required documents. Essentially, the IPA letter is your confirmation that your application is on the right track, bringing you one step closer to your dream job in Singapore.

The application process for an S Pass isn’t just about meeting eligibility requirements and submitting the documents required. You also need to take the S Pass quota and levy system into consideration. This system sets a limit on the number of foreign workers a company can employ, ensuring a balanced workforce.

The specifics of the quota and levy system will be further explored in the following subsections.

Navigating the quota and levy system

Understanding the S Pass quota limits

The S Pass quota system ensures the balance between foreign and domestic workers employed in Singapore. It is how many S Pass holders a company can employ based on its total workforce. For instance, the service sector S Pass quota is up to 10% of the company’s workforce to be S Pass workers. Meanwhile, other sectors may have an S pass quota of up to 15%.

Levy rates and payment obligations

As an employer of S Pass holders, you’re also obligated to pay a monthly levy for each S Pass holder from issuance until its cancellation or expiration. The levy rates and payment obligations can differ depending on the industry sector and the percentage of foreign workers in your workforce.

For instance, if you’re an employer in the service sector, the monthly levy rate for S Pass holders is SGD $550 for each S Pass holder when they do not exceed 10% of the total workforce. A Tier 2 levy rate applies if the 10% quota of S Pass holders is temporarily exceeded in the service sector.

Other sectors also have different monthly levy rates. Grasping these rates and obligations is pivotal to maintaining compliance and evading penalties.

Financial Commitments for Employers

Being an employer of S Pass holders comes with a set of financial commitments. From meeting minimum salary requirements to providing medical insurance and paying the monthly levy, it’s crucial to understand these costs to ensure a smooth hiring process.

The following subsections will delve more into these financial commitments.

Meeting the minimum salary requirements

As an employer, one of your primary obligations is to ensure that your S Pass holders receive at least the minimum salary as stipulated by the prevailing regulations. As of September 2023, new applicants must meet minimum salary requirements of $3,150 for a non-financial industry sector and $3,650 for the financial services sector.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regularly update the fixed salary requirements. Therefore, keep an eye out for these changes to ensure compliance. Remember, your ability to offer a competitive salary influences not just your S Pass approval chances but also the retention and motivation of your foreign workers.

Providing medical insurance coverage

Another key obligation for employers of S Pass holders is providing medical insurance coverage. As per the Ministry of Manpower’s regulations, employers are required to provide medical insurance coverage for their foreign employees. This insurance coverage must include inpatient care and day surgery, with a minimum coverage worth at least $15,000 per year.

This requirement ensures that S Pass holders can access necessary healthcare services without financial burden while working in Singapore. So, as an employer, it’s crucial to secure a suitable medical insurance plan for your S Pass holders to ensure their well-being and job satisfaction.

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Application Status: Approval, Rejection, Appeals

You've submitted your application form. What now? The outcome can be an approval, rejection, or need for an appeal. To ensure a smooth process, complete the pass application form accurately and provide all necessary documents.

The subsequent subsections will discuss these three possible outcomes.

Celebrating In-Principle Approval (IPA)

The moment you receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter, it’s time to celebrate. This letter signifies the preliminary approval of your application, subject to the submission of the required documents. You will also receive a single entry visa along with the IPA, which allows you to enter Singapore for up to 6 months and get your pass card issued.

Upon receiving the IPA, you should:

  1. Print the letter and carry it with you when entering Singapore.
  2. Upon your arrival, you’ll go through immigration clearance, receiving a 30-day pass with an ‘IPA’ mark stamped on your passport.
  3. Typically, the immigration officer retains the IPA document as part of the entry processing time.
  4. You're ready to receive your final work visa!

Rejections

Usually, your S Pass was rejected because you didn't provide enough proof of your specialist skills, your salary was insufficient, or your employer information was outdated.

Once you’ve identified the reasons, address them before proceeding to appeal. This could involve providing documents required to prove professional qualifications. Remember that understanding the advised processing time for an appeal or reassessment is crucial to set realistic expectations and plan accordingly.

Rejection appeals

Seek rejection advisory if you believe you should have been granted an S Pass. Osome's work pass advisors can help you review your original pass application form and initiate the appeal process. Feel free to reach out. Generally speaking, the appealing efforts can include the following aspects:

  • Gather additional documents to support your case
  • Including updated company information
  • Offering a revised salary if your initial salary was too close to the fixed salary requirement
  • Providing new applicant details

Appeals are processed on a case-by-case basis, typically within three weeks, and the employer is informed of either the final rejection or the approval with in-principle consent.

Renewing, Changing, or Canceling an S Pass

As an S Pass holder, you have the flexibility to renew, change, or cancel your pass. However, note that a new pass application is required for a new job.

The following subsections will further delve into these processes.

Renewing, changing, or canceling an S Pass

How to renew an existing S Pass

An existing S Pass can be renewed beginning six months prior to its expiry date. It’s crucial not to miss the renewal deadline because you'll need to file a whole new application if your S Pass has expired. The renewal process typically takes up to 10 business days and is not affected by applying early. The new pass’s duration starts after the expiry of the current one and can be valid for up to three years, depending on the pass holder’s passport validity, which must have at least seven months remaining.

Renewing an S Pass incurs a fee of $100 per renewal. Moreover, the renewal requires continued compliance with the initial eligibility conditions, such as meeting ongoing employment and salary requirements. So, it’s crucial to ensure that you continue to meet these requirements to renew your S Pass successfully.

Switching employers or job positions as an S Pass holder

As an S Pass holder, you can change employers within Singapore. But remember, new pass applications are required for new jobs, and your new employer will need to apply for the S Pass on your behalf.

This mandatory application requirement restricts your career mobility, especially since you must remain above the monthly salary requirement. Therefore, plan your career moves wisely to ensure a smooth transition and avoid unnecessary administrative hassles.

The correct way to cancel an S Pass

Notify your employer or their appointed agent regarding the cancellation. They will submit a cancellation request to the Singaporean government on your behalf. You can also apply for a short-term visit pass within 30 days of cancellation to remain in Singapore and wrap up your affairs before leaving the country. Never initiate a cancellation yourself!

Additional Considerations for S Pass Applicants

Beyond the application process, there are additional considerations for new applicants. These include family member’s eligibility for a Dependent’s Pass and possibly transitioning to permanent residency.

Legally married spouses and unmarried or legally adopted children under 21 are considered eligible dependents. However, don't start the application form for any dependent until your S Pass is approved so you don't waste time and the application fee.

Transitioning to permanent residency

As an S Pass holder, you might also consider transitioning to permanent residency in Singapore. If you contribute to the economy, comply with regulations, and integrate into the community, you may improve your likelihood of obtaining a Singapore Permanent Residency. Your dependents can also transition to permanent residency through the main pass holder’s application for their family members.

Summary

Navigating the S Pass journey in Singapore can seem daunting, but with the right understanding and preparation, it can open doors to a promising career in one of the world’s most vibrant economies. From understanding what the S Pass is, its eligibility requirements, and the application process to navigating the quota and levy system and understanding the obligations as an employer, it’s crucial to grasp each aspect to ensure a successful application.

So, whether you’re an employer looking to hire foreign talent or a mid-level skilled professional eyeing a career in Singapore, the S Pass could be your ticket to exciting opportunities.

Author Gabi Bellairs-Lombard
Gabi Bellairs-LombardBusiness Writer

Gabi's passionate about creating content that inspires. Her work history lies in writing compelling website copy and content, and now specialises in product marketing copy. When writing content, Gabi's priority is ensuring that the words impact the readers. As the voice of Osome's products and features, Gabi makes complex business finance and accounting topics easy to understand for small business owners.

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FAQ

  • What is an S Pass in Singapore?

    An S Pass in Singapore is a working visa for mid-level skilled foreign workers in different industries. Applicants for an S Pass must have a valid job offer in Singapore, meet specific educational qualifications, and have relevant work experience. Meeting these criteria makes an individual eligible for an S Pass.

  • How much does it cost to apply for S Pass?

    The application fee is $100 per pass and can be paid using Visa or Master Card. Meanwhile, your employer needs to pay all other necessary fees to ensure your S Pass remains valid and eligible, including a monthly levy.

  • How can I renew my S Pass?

    You can renew your S Pass six months before its expiry date. Remember to pay the $100 renewal fee and ensure you still meet the eligibility criteria, including the high salary requirement.

  • Can my family join me in Singapore if I have an S Pass?

    Yes, if your monthly salary is at least $6,000, you can apply for a Dependent's Pass for your family. Note that the Dependent's Pass does not cover your common-law spouse. You need the Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) if you hope to bring a common-law spouse, step-child or handicapped child to Singapore.

  • Are S Pass, Employment Pass, and Work Permit the same?

    While all three are common work passes issued by MoM, they are significantly different from each other. S Pass is the most common work pass/working visa for skilled foreign professionals, whereas Employment Pass is designed for managerial talents with stronger qualifications and more advanced skills. Each follows a different set of eligibility criteria. A work permit is issued for any worker without skill level requirements.

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