Who needs a Visa?

Many nationals do not require a Visa to enter Singapore. 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 on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website.

Business Visa

Foreigners do not apply for a Business Visa, as such.  Visitors to Singapore may undertake some business visitor activities that are limited in nature and duration. These include meetings, discussions, fact finding missions and attendance at seminars.

Type of Visa

Upon arrival into Singapore all visitors will obtain a Short Term Visit Pass (STVP).

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.

Application Process

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.

Processing time

For certain nationals, holding passports issued by “Level 1” countries, the average processing time is 3 working days, and for “Level 2” countries, the average processing time is 2 weeks.  For details of “Level 1” and “Level 2 “countries, please speak with Magrath Global


The Short Term Visit Pass (STVP) which will grant a stay of between 30 and 90 days, is based on the immigration officer’s discretion.   Extensions are possible.

Work Authorisation

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, and work experience and job type.  A fixed monthly salary of at least SGD3,000 is required along with acceptable qualifications and/or work experience.

Type of Visa

In addition to the Employment Pass, which is a favoured category, further immigration options include:

  • Singapore Permanent Residence – This status is available to certain foreign nationals to include higher level EP holders and investors.  Applications are made to the ICA.
  • Personalised Employment Pass – A limited number of professionals who satisfy the minimum income level may be eligible to apply for the PEP.  This pass is not tied to one employer, enabling the holder to transfer jobs without having to reapply for an EP. The holder can also remain in Singapore for up to 6 months between jobs.
  • Entre Pass – This option is for foreign entrepreneurs who are seeking to start their own business in Singapore.
  • Work Pass Exempt Activities – The Ministry of Manpower (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 foreign national undertaking training in certain professional positions may be eligible for this pass.
  • S Pass – This option is aimed at mid-level skilled foreign nationals.  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 foreign nationals 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.

Application Process

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will assess all applications for an Employment Pass.  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 Employment Pass 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) to complete formalities including biometrics fingerprinting.

Fees apply at the point of application and issue.

Processing time

An Employment Pass application is typically processed within one week for an online submission, or up to 5 weeks if submitted manually.


Once issued, most Employment Passes 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 less than 21 years of age will be eligible to apply for a Dependant’s Pass. Certain categories of Employment Pass 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.

Penalties for Non Compliance

Non-compliance with the immigration regulations, the false declaration of information, or submission of forged documents during the application process are an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.  Penalties may include a fine and/or imprisonment for the applicant and/or employing company.

Points to Note

  • An applicant will need to show proof of an adequate education.  Job specific educational qualifications should exist.
  • Lack of suitable qualifications are likely to adversely affect an application.
  • For certain applications the Ministry of Manpower may consider worker ratios.
  • Minimum salary requirements apply.


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 commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.