The Singapore government controls all immigration matters
through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The ICA monitors and
controls the passing of people and goods over Singapore’s borders and is
responsible for various immigration and registration functions including the
issue of immigration passes and permits to foreign nationals as well as the
issue of travel documents and identity cards to Singapore citizens.
Under Singapore’s immigration policy, a visa is required by
foreign nationals from countries such as the Commonwealth of Independent
States, the Middle East states, China and some north African countries. Apart
from India and Bangladesh, residents of the Commonwealth, Europe, the United
States, Canada and South America generally do not require visas to enter
Visitors are generally granted either a 14-day or 30-day
social visit pass on arrival, provided they hold passports with a validity of
at least six months, sufficient funds to cover their stay in Singapore,
confirmed onward/return tickets and entry documentation for any onward
destination. A social visit pass permits short stays, enabling attendance at
job interviews, short business negotiations, discussions or meetings. For
longer stays, see below.
Any person wishing to be employed or to work under a
contract of service or employment (or any similar agreement) for a prolonged
period in Singapore must obtain an employment pass.
A person visiting Singapore for business negotiations or
discussions and who needs to stay longer than the 14 or 30 days permitted under
a social visit pass may apply for an extension of their pass. The company with
whom the business visitor is dealing is required to sponsor the application for
the extension, provide details of the applicant’s business visit and guarantee
the business visitor’s maintenance and repatriation. If an application is
successful, the social visit pass may be extended for up to a further 30 days.
All applications are processed by the Visitors’ Services Centre at the ICA,
usually within two days.
The Singapore government strongly supports new
investors/entrepreneurs in establishing business activities in the country.
Through the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the Global Investor
Programme (GIP) for foreign investors has been developed under which foreigners
are allowed to enter and stay in Singapore through the following means:
- multiple journey visa (MJV)
- long-term visit pass for entrepreneurs (lTVP)
An MJV (which is issued for periods of one, two or five
years) is normally granted to a foreign individual who frequently travels into
Singapore for the purpose of exploring business opportunities or to attend to
business and investment matters. An MJV allows the foreign individual to stay
in Singapore for up to 30 days per visit and can be renewed. A letter of
introduction is required from a Singapore-registered company in support of a
An lTVP enables a foreign individual to stay in Singapore for
six months for the purposes of conducting feasibility studies, exploring
business opportunities or completing negotiations and may be renewed for up to
one year. In order to obtain an lTVP, a letter of support in the prescribed
form must have been issued in support of the application by the EDB.
An EntrePass, with an initial validity period of up to two
years, is targeted at foreign entrepreneurs who:
·are ready to start a new business/company in Singapore and
who will be actively involved in the operation of the business/company
·own a business which must have been registered with the
Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) for a maximum of six
months at the time of submission of the EntrePass application.
All new EntrePass applicants must register their companies
as private limited companies with at least S$50,000 paid-up share capital and
hold at least a 30 per cent shareholding in the company. The Ministry of
Manpower (MOM) and the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board are responsible
for processing applications for EntrePasses.
Employment pass holders are allowed to live and work in
Singapore for periods of up to three years at a time. The employer is required
to sponsor the application for the pass made by the applicant and applications
are usually processed within two weeks by the MOM. The following types of
employment passes are available to foreigners seeking professional, managerial
or executive and specialist jobs:
- P1 pass: for foreigners earning a fixed monthly salary of
more than S$7,000
- P2 pass: for foreigners earning a fixed monthly salary of
more than S$3,500 and up to S$7,000 and who possess recognized qualifications
- Q1 pass: for foreigners earning a fixed monthly salary of
more than S$2,500 and who possess recognized qualifications.
The S pass is available for mid-level skilled foreigners
earning a minimum fixed monthly salary of S$1,800 who possess recognized
Apart from obtaining an employment pass, foreigners can also
apply for dependant passes and/or LTVPs for their immediate family members.
The personalized employment pass (PEP) is available for
employment pass holders who have worked in Singapore for some time or overseas
foreign professionals whose last drawn fixed monthly salary overseas was at
least S$7,000. The PEP allows the holder to remain in Singapore for up to six
months between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities and its validity
is not conditional upon the PEP holder keeping his job with the same employer,
unlike an employment pass.
There are a number of schemes under which permanent
residency can be granted, depending on an applicant’s skills and
qualifications. These include the Professional, Technical Personnel and Skilled
Workers Scheme, the Landed Permanent Residence Scheme, Approval-in-Principle
for Permanent Residence Scheme (for Hong Kong applicants), the Foreign Artistic
Talent Scheme, and the Global Investor Programme.
Permanent residence applications can be lodged either in
Singapore with the ICA or, if the applicant is currently residing overseas, an
application can be submitted to the Singapore mission in the resident country.
Processing usually takes three months.