HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Satish Bakhda

10 things to keep in mind for a successful Singapore Employment Pass application


Recently, in Parliament, ministries discussed strategies to keep Singapore abundant with opportunities for all Singaporeans. These include implementing the Fair Consideration Framework and come 1 August 2014. In light of these, and the tougher eligibility criteria, businesses must be smart about applying for Singapore Employment Passes.

Here are 10 factors to keep in mind when applying for an Employment Pass.

Experience and education of the candidate – One of the criteria for securing an Employment Pass is having acceptable qualifications e.g. good degrees or professional qualifications. While the chances are better if the candidate has a degree, even a person without the right degree, but with extensive experience, can present a convincing case. A degree from a Singapore tertiary institution carries a lot of weight.

Uniqueness of the candidate – Be prepared to demonstrate to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) the unique value the company will derive from this candidate as well as why it cannot be obtained from the local talent pool.

Salary – A candidate commanding a higher salary indicates that he adds substantial value to the employer and may therefore stand a higher chance of approval. However, an Employment Pass application is never processed based only on the salary. Furthermore, an application with a very high salary but lacks sufficient experience and educational qualifications is likely to be rejected.

Industry – Singapore welcomes candidates in the various sunrise sectors the Government is trying to develop at the moment or those that do not have enough trained local candidates. The Strategic and Skills-in-Demand list can be found on the Ministry of Manpower website. Similarly, it is difficult to obtain an Employment Pass for a foreign candidate in an industry where there is a large pool of local talent.

Nationality – The nationality of the candidate often plays a part. It is easier to obtain Employment Passes for qualified candidates from countries that have strong economic and bilateral relationships with Singapore.

Business plan of the company – It is important for the company to show that it is able to generate enough revenue to support the salaries and expenses in the near future. While a new company may not have existing clients, it should be able to show sound projections based on its experience in other countries, track record of the senior management, or ability of the shareholders to sustain the company through the initial revenue non-generating phase.

Local recruitment by the company – While the Singapore government maintains an open door policy on foreign workers, subject only to few restrictions, it also expects that the businesses will generate local jobs at various levels, including the PMET level. It gets increasingly difficult for companies to obtain passes if they are not generating good local jobs.

Keep it brief – MOM receives a large number of applications every single day. To ensure that the MOM officer is able to evaluate your application properly and easily, all key information should be presented clearly and within 2 pages. This will give the officer a bird’s eye view of the application, the quality of the candidate, and the position of the company.

Schedule your application - Given the current market conditions and the high number of rejections and subsequent appeal process, it is best to start the Employment Pass application process well in advance of your intended travel dates or at the start of your children’s academic year. It takes at least two months for the entire process to be completed.

Back up plan – Despite best efforts, MOM may still reject an application due to a combination of factors. If the applicant is a key member of your team, have a backup plan for such eventualities. You can continue to service the clients by employing local staff. After a year or so, when your company has built up a track record, you may reapply with a stronger case.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Satish Bakhda

Satish Bakhda

Satish Bakhda is the Chief Operating Officer at Rikvin. He brings with him over 15 years of experience in the corporate services industry and is a regular speaker at marketing events around the world. He is also a consultant on matters relating to incorporation, relocation, accounting and taxation in Singapore.

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