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Everything You Need To Know About Singapore Work Permit

Singapore is an economic hub of the world as it provides excellent opportunities for foreigners to relocate and start working or set up a business. Singapore offers several different work visas and permits that allow individuals of different backgrounds and experiences opportunities to start working in the city-state. One such work pass is a work permit in Singapore. Read on further to find out everything you need to know about the Singapore work permit, its eligibility requirements, the required documents, and the process of applying.

What Exactly Is A Work Permit in Singapore?

A work permit is a type of work pass specific to foreign unskilled labour working in Singapore. The work permit is offered for emerging industries such as construction, manufacturing, marine, services, and processes. Only the labour force from approved Asian countries is allowed to work in these industries with a work permit. The approved Asian countries include China, Thailand, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

A work permit allows foreign unskilled labour to seek employment opportunities in Singapore. However, there are a few restrictions for the work permit holder, such as quotas, levies, employment bonds, and appropriate health coverage.

Eligibility Criteria For Applicants

The candidates for which a work permit is being sought must meet the following work permit requirements in Singapore:

  • Candidates must belong to the list of approved Asian countries as listed above. For the construction and marine sector, applicants can belong to other countries as well.
  • Candidates must be at least 18 years old when applying.
  • At the time of applying for a work permit, the applicant must be below 58 years of age for Malaysian workers, while for all other non-Malaysian workers, the applicant must be below 50 years.
  • Non-Malaysian work permit holders must sign security bonds.
  • The permit holder has to have medical insurance of minimum coverage.
  • The foreign applicant for a work permit must be able to pass the concerned medical check to ensure medical fitness.
  • The applicant may need to take certain safety courses for some industries and sectors.

Eligibility Criteria For Higher-Skilled Worker

For higher-skilled workers who are applying for a work permit, the eligibility criteria include the following requirements:

  • A Malaysian Certificate of Education — Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) for Malaysian workers.
  • High school certificates for North Asian countries’ workers.
  • Diplomas for foreign higher-skilled workers from China.
  • Applicants must pass the Skills Evaluation Test (SET) SET Level 1 or National ITE Certificate (Nitec) conducted by ITE.
  • Applicants must have specific higher certificates in the landscape and growing nursery products industry.
  • The applicant must earn a fixed salary of at least $1,600 and must have worked in Singapore as a work permit holder for at least 4 years.

Required Documents

To apply for a work permit in Singapore, candidates must prepare the following documentation:

  • Scanned copy of the passport bio-data
  • Education qualification documents (if applicable)
  • A written application from the applicant

How To Apply For Work Permit In Singapore

It is advised to engage a corporate service provider and immigration services to apply for a work permit. The permit is applied online through the Work Permit Online (WPOL) platform, for which you need access to its account. The process of submitting an application for a work permit involves the following steps:

  • The first step involves obtaining written consent from the applicant and then logging on to the WPOL portal.
  • Fill out the online application and upload all necessary documents.
  • Then, pay the application fee.
  • The applicant can check the status of the application after a week.
  • If the application is approved, the applicant can apply on WPOL for issuance of the pass and pay its necessary fee.
  • The applicant will then have to ensure that all documents related to insurance, medical check-ups, and bonds are ready.
  • The next step is to visit the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) card collection centre with all the necessary documents and attend the face-to-face appointment, after which they will be issued the work permit.

How to Renew Work Permit In Singapore

If your work permit is about to expire, you can apply for work permit renewal 6-8 weeks prior to the expiration date. Renewal of work permit is subject to the following conditions:

  • Your employing company has the required quota to renew the work permit.
  • Your security bond and medical insurance have been extended for the period of renewal.
  • Your medical check-up is still current, otherwise you will have to undergo a new medical check-up according to the requirements.
  • You will have to submit a scanned copy of your passport bio-data. The passport should have at least a 2-year validity.
  • You will also have to provide the details for delivery of the work permit. These details include an address, name, NRIC, passport number, and contact details of the person who will receive the card.

Work Permit Restriction For Employers

Employers who wish to hire WP holders must adhere to a dependency ratio ceiling, DRC and are subject to levy. Different levy rates and quotas are applicable depending on the industry sector and the created tiers. Employers can calculate their quotas on MOM’s website.


To apply for a WP, appeal against rejection, or for renewal of work permits; it is advised to engage the services of qualified corporate service providers who can guide you through the process and ensure compliance. Startup Biz Consultants is Singapore’s premium business consultant service provider that can help you with your work permit application. Contact Startup Biz Consultants for queries and assistance regarding work permits in Singapore.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a work permit to be approved?

After a WP application has been submitted, it can typically take one week for it to be approved. However, if the applicant needs to submit any additional documents to WPOL as part of the application after it was submitted, it may take up to three to four weeks for the WP application to be approved.

What happens if my work permit gets rejected?

If your work permit gets rejected, you have the option to appeal against it. Usually, a WP application may get rejected for one of two reasons: The employing company may not have the necessary quota or you may not be eligible for a WP. It is advisable to seek the services of a professional immigration service to guide you through the process and submit the appeal on your behalf. You will need to prepare all the supporting documents to support your case and then submit the appeal after logging in to the WPOL portal.  The decision for an appeal against a work permit rejection may take up to three weeks to come.

Also, note that your WP may get rejected if you have been working in the construction sector for the last 14 years with a basic skilled work permit. In such a scenario, you must upgrade your basic-skilled permit to a higher-skilled work permit if you want to continue working in Singapore.

How many days can I stay in Singapore after the cancellation of work permit?

After your work permit has been cancelled, you can stay in the country for between 7 and 30 days provided that your Special / STVP pass remains valid during this period.

What is the minimum salary requirement for a work permit in Singapore?

A work permit is generally issued for a period of 2 years in Singapore, after which the permit holder has to apply for renewal. Since the work permit is issued to unskilled or semi-skilled labour, there may be different salary requirements for the worker depending on the industry and sector. For example, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the minimum fixed monthly salary requirement for a work permit holder in Singapore in the services sector is $1,600.

How many years can a work permit holder stay in Singapore?

The work permit validity period is typically 2 years, provided that his passport, security bond, and worker employment period have a validity of at least 2 years. During this time, the WP holder can stay in Singapore. However, if the validity of his passport, security bond, or worker employment contract is less than 2 years, the work permit will also be issued for the shorter validity duration.

Can I apply for PR if I hold a Singapore work permit?

Unfortunately, a work permit holder does not meet the criteria for applying for permanent residence in Singapore. He/she can still, however, opt for a different route to apply for PR, for example, through a sponsor in Singapore who is a spouse or parents having PRs.