Depending on nationality, certain foreigners won’t need to apply for a visa for Singapore if they intend to stay in the city-state for less than either 30 or 90 days. People from non-visa-exempt countries have to apply in advance, either online or at their nearest Singaporean embassy.

Any foreigner, regardless of nationality, looking to work in Singapore will need to obtain an Employment Pass. 

Citizens of visa-exempt countries will generally only need a passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry, proof of onward/return travel and proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the stay in Singapore. Some foreign nationals from non-visa-exempt countries may be able to apply online while others will have to apply in person at an embassy.

Tourist visas are granted for a period of 30 to 90 days depending on nationality. They can be extended from within Singapore.

Foreigners with a family member who is a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore may apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP). Expat spouses who have a child in Singapore or have been living in the city-state for more than three years may be eligible for the LTVP+, which allows the holder longer periods of residency as well as other healthcare and employment benefits.

Foreigners wanting to take up employment in Singapore will need to obtain a work permit. There are three types of work permit available. The type of permit an expat applies for will depend largely on their field of work. The Employment Pass is for qualified professionals, the S Pass is for mid-level candidates and the Work Permit is for semi-skilled workers in fields like construction.

To qualify for any of these permits, expats will first need to secure a job offer in Singapore.

Employment Passes for Singapore

Employment Pass (EP) applicants need to have an offer for a specialised or management-level job in the country.

To be granted an EP, foreign employees will need to hold a job offer which guarantees them a certain salary which is above that set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Usually, the employer either handles the application for an EP or appoints a qualified agent to do the job.

An EP is generally granted for up to two years for first-time applicants. It can be renewed for up to three years.

EP holders who meet financial requirements can have their employer apply for a Dependent’s Pass for their spouse and dependent children under the age of 21. Separate applications will need to be made for each family member.


S Passes for Singapore

As is the case with an EP, S Pass candidates in Singapore need to have a job offer that pays above a set amount a month but also reflects their level of experience – so more senior applicants would need to be paid more.

Qualifying S Pass salary amounts are lower than those set for EP applications because the S Pass is for mid-skilled technical workers rather than specialist positions. Again, the MOM sets the required salaries for S Pass applications.

Applicants also need to have relevant work experience and have earned a degree, diploma or technical certificate that includes at least one year of full-time study. The employer in Singapore has to apply on behalf of the candidate before they arrive in Singapore. They also have to provide the candidate with medical cover. S Passes are valid for two years and can be renewed for up to three years at a time.

As is the case with EP holder, expats in possession of an S pass can sponsor a spouse and dependent children in their applications for Dependant Passes.


Work Permits in Singapore

Work Permits are aimed at semi-skilled workers in fields like construction, manufacturing and services. There is no set minimum salary, but employers are bound to pay the salary they declare on the application presented to the MOM. Employers are also required to provide medical cover for their applicant.

Each of the fields covered by the work permit has its own requirements. Being granted this kind of work permit for Singapore has become more difficult in recent years. The government has tightened quotas and many businesses have started focusing on retaining existing staff. Expats in the country on this type of permit aren’t eligible to sponsor any family members to join them.

The work permit is valid for up to two years, depending on the expat’s contract.