Who needs an Entry Visa?
Many nationals do not require a visa to enter Singapore. Other foreigners holding passports issued by ‘Assessment Level I’ and ‘Assessment Level II’ countries will require a visa in advance of travel. A full list of which countries fall within these categories can be found via the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website.
Foreigners requiring an Entry Visa in advance of travel have 2 options. Firstly the application can be made online via Submission of Application for Visa Electronically (SAVE) through a Singapore contact with a SingPass account. Alternatively an application can be submitted at an overseas Singapore Mission. The respective Mission’s website will provide details regarding the application process.
Short Term Visit Pass
Upon arrival into Singapore all visitors will obtain a Short Term Visit Pass (STVP) which will grant a stay of between 30 and 90 days, based on the immigration officer’s discretion. Extensions are possible. A Long Term Visit Pass is also available for certain categories of individuals. Visitors to Singapore should ensure that their passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day of arrival.
Foreigners do not apply for a Business Visa, as such. Visitors to Singapore may partake in certain business visitor activities that are limited in nature and duration. Allowable activities include meetings, discussions, fact finding missions and attendance at seminars.
An Employment Pass (EP) is required for all non-residents prior to commencing work in Singapore. The category of EP granted will be determined by factors including salary, qualifications, work experience and job type. A fixed monthly salary of at least SGD3,000 is required along with acceptable qualifications and/or work experience.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will assess all applications for an EP. The employer or agent must submit the application which must be sponsored by a Singapore registered company.
Applications can be made manually or via the MOM’s EP Online system. Supporting documents include a copy of the passport bio-data page, photo and higher educational qualification certificates. For documents not in English, the original copy must be submitted along with an official English translation by a certified translator, High Commission/Embassy or notary public.
Once the pass has been issued, the applicant is required to attend the MOM’s Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC) for certain formalities to include biometrics fingerprinting.
Fees apply at the point of application and issuance.
An EP application is typically processed within one week for an online submission or up to 5 weeks if submitted manually.
Once issued, most EPs are valid for a period of 2 years, subject to the MOM’s discretion. A renewal application can be made in advance of expiry. Prior to leaving Singapore or leaving employment with the Singapore company, the employer is obliged to cancel the pass.
Immediate family members to include a legally married spouse and children under 21 years of age will be eligible to apply for a Dependant’s Pass. Certain categories of EP holder may be entitled to apply for a Long Term Visit Pass for a common-law spouse, step-children under 21 years of age or handicapped children above 21 and parents.
Further immigration options
- Singapore Permanent Residence – This status is available to certain foreigners to include higher level EP holders and investors. Applications are made to the ICA.
- Personalised Employment Pass – A limited number of professionals who have a certain income level may be eligible to apply for the PEP. This pass is not tied to an employer, enabling the holder to transfer jobs without having to reapply for an EP. They can also remain in Singapore for up to 6 months between jobs.
- Entre Pass – This option is for foreign entrepreneurs who are seeking to commence their own business in Singapore.
- Work Pass Exempt Activities – The MOM website lists certain activities which can be undertaken in Singapore for a short duration without the requirement for a work pass. Conditions apply.
- Training Employment Pass – A foreigner undertaking training in certain professional positions may be eligible for this pass.
- S Pass – This option is aimed at mid-level skilled foreigners. Applications are assessed using a points system to include criteria such as salary, qualifications, job type and work experience.
- Miscellaneous Work Pass – This is available for foreigners working in specific activities on short term assignments.
- Work Holiday Programme – Students and graduates from certain high ranking universities may have the opportunity to reside and work in Singapore under this scheme.
Penalties for Non Compliance
Non-compliance with the immigration regulations, the false declaration of information or submission of forged documents during the application process will be an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Penalties may include a fine and/or imprisonment for the applicant and/or company.
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The contents of this article are for information purposes only. The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice. Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice. You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances. No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or omissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.