What Is Work Permit in Singapore?

The Work Permit is an official name of the working pass given to unskilled foreign manpower that seeks for employment in various niches of Singaporean economy (construction, babysitting, services, housekeeping, marine and so on).

Only employees from approved sources are eligible for this working permit provided that they meet certain criteria while their employers are ready to pay a levy and the security bond, meet the quota criterion, and provide the worker with a healthcare insurance.

Benefits and Features of Working Permit

This work pass doesn’t have a salary requirement; though basically, the salary of work pass holders is usually lower than 2,200 SGD.
Only an employer or an authorised agency can initiate processing of this work pass.
The working permit is usually issued for a period of up to 2 years; however, this term depends on the passport validity of the working permit holder, term of employment, security bond, and other details.
This working pass is renewable under certain conditions.
No passes for families are available for such work pass holders.
The working permit is subject to quota which means that only specific percentage of manpower can be hired by one employer under the working permit.
This working visa is subject to levies (an amount of money an employer must pay monthly for his/her every working permit holder).
Employers are obliged to buy a healthcare insurance for their every working pass holder.
The procedure of obtaining the work visa depends on the country of origin. The nationality also defines whether the security bond must be paid by the employer:
A special work visa for the Malaysians. An employer who wants to hire a Malaysian has to process a separate work pass even if this worker already has a valid work pass (WP). Once the employer receives a letter that the new WP is ready, the previous WP must be cancelled by the past employer prior to or on the same day a new work pass is collected. For the Malaysian workers, the employer isn’t obliged to pay a security bond of 5,000 SGD.

A security bond of 5,000 SGD must be paid for employees from the following “sources”:
1) North Asian countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau;
2) “Non-Traditional” countries such as India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines, and The Republic of the Union of Myanmar;
3) People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Advantages of Work Visa

This work pass gives semi-skilled foreign manpower an opportunity to be employed by Singapore-based well-established companies and households and be protected by the Singaporean advanced employee-employer legislation. Holders of the working pass are provided with the health insurance that covers their needs in healthcare and working traumas.
This working pass is renewable so the employees can stay employed as long as they fit the employer.

Disadvantages or Work Visa

This working permit is subject to levies (mandatory monthly payment), quotas (percentage of foreigners that can be hired under this working visa) and security bonds that restrict the employer and make hiring a foreigner under this work pass undesirable for him. Holders of this work pass aren’t allowed to take their families along to Singapore. Working pass holders aren’t allowed to get married with the Singaporeans and the Singaporean permanent residents unless they get a special approval from the government. Having children is allowed only within such “approved” marriages. Permanent Recidence isn’t provided for Working Permit holders.

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements of the Work Permit

Working permit conditions for the foreigner:
Every foreigner pursuing a working visa has to be aged at least 18. The age limit for the Malaysians is 58 years while for non-Malaysians it is only 50.
The foreigner must have a valid passport.
Foreigners are allowed to work only within the work scope specified in their working permits. Working for another employer or starting their own businesses is illegal.

Working pass obligations for the employer:
Paying the declared salary to the worker.
Paying for the medical care.
Purchasing and maintaining medical insurance for the overseas worker worth at least 15,000 SGD that covers the worker’s day surgery and inpatient treatment during his/her residing in Singapore.
Following all terms determined in the employment act.
Ensuring that the foreign worker doesn’t get involved in any other employment except the one this working pass was issued for.
Providing compensation insurance in case the worker gets injured at work.
Providing the working pass holder with an acceptable housing.
Paying the security bond of 5,000 SGD before the worker’s arrival.
Meeting the overseas worker’s recreational and social needs.
Bearing the costs of repatriation of the working visa holder after the work is over.

What to Do if Working Permit Gets Rejected?

Working visa rejection is a common thing as the variety of requirements and conditions give enough space for mistakes. As foreigners who qualify for the work pass face fewer demands, most often the reasons for rejection come from the employer’s side. Common reasons for the rejection are:
the salary doesn’t correspond with the worker’s qualification;
the employer doesn’t meet the quota criterion;
the employer’s business isn’t well-established or it was spotted in the violation of the employment rights of the Singaporeans;
the foreigner has an insufficient educational qualification;
the employee comes from an unapproved source (country).

The rejected pass can be appealed by the employer who is willing to hire the foreigner. The hiring company can appeal the rejected working pass successfully only if all of the problems the MOM points to in the rejection letter can be addressed. If you aren’t sure that you understand the reasons for rejection or that you would be able to address all of the issues carefully, it is better to involve the professional accredited visa agency that has a good track record in getting approvals for this kind of the work visa. Usually, 3 months are given for preparing for the appeal, and this time must be used efficiently to fix the problems, strengthen the weak points of the application and prepare the solid documentation.

How to Apply: the Best Working Pass Scheme

It is crucial to analyse the situation and prepare the high-quality application and supportive documentation that represents both the employer and the employee from the best sides. If this is the first time the employer applies for a working pass, the MOM must be informed about the company’s activity. If the employer isn’t certain he would manage the online application process and achieve a winning representation of his/her business, it’s it better to entrust the case to an accredited visa agency. The benefit of involving an agency is in the full package service. You not only get your case assessed professionally and the potential weak points detected but also get your paperwork done, your business represented and the application prepared. The submission of the work pass application and documentation must be done online using the service WP Online. The consideration is quick and usually takes only 1 working day. It can be more if the MOM is unsatisfied with the quality of the documents you provide. The duration of the approved working visa is usually 2 years. However, if the work visa holder’s passport (or the employer’s security bond) expires earlier than in 2 years, the work visa’s duration will be defined either as the passport’s validity minus 1 month or the security bond’s validity minus 2 months. The security bond and the medical insurance must be bought (paid) before the foreigner arrives to start working.

Work Pass Renewal Process

When the first run of the working visa comes to an end, the working visa can be extended provided that the holder’s passport has enough validity. For example, the maximum renewal validity can be achieved if the passport’s validity is at least 25 months. An employer or an accredited visa agency can make the renewal procedure 6-8 weeks before the work pass’ expiry date using the service WP Online. This is a quick procedure, and the result can be found out immediately. Sometimes it happens that the employer cannot make the renewal in time because the foreigner’s passport is in the processing. In such cases, the employer can ask for an extension. A new security bond must be bought and the healthcare insurance must be extended for the term of the renewal. Once the renewal procedure is successful, the printed notification letter allows the foreigner to come to the country and wait for his/her work visa card.

Why Use Professional Agents/Consultants to Get Work Visa?

Due to a large quantity of requirements to both an employer and an employee, it is important to ensure that a business gets a decent representation at the MOM and all the requirements can be met. Free assessment service a visa agency offers can be very helpful as you can get your situation estimated according to the MOM latest criteria before moving on to doing any paperwork. The visa agents are aware of the MOM public and undercover principles that may impact your case. It is even more crucial for a business to enlist a professional visa agency if this is the first time a working pass for a foreign staff is needed. The MOM seeks having sufficient information about every business that hires foreign manpower to track its hiring policy and avoid any employment discrimination concerning the local manpower. Therefore, for a company it is important to get all documents done according to the MOM standards. The visa consultant would check all the details and prepare a winning application that has a strong chance for approval.


"I am confident that with time you will become leaders among business professionals, and, perhaps, return to the academy to share your knowledge and experience with new doctoral students.."

Our Newsletter


  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  +65 3108 0534
  +65 3108 0534
  178 Joo Chiat Road,
Singapore 427449

Keep in Touch