The first thing that you need to know when living in Singapore is how to get your own Work Passes Singapore. It’s difficult at first and it can be a bureaucratic process but once you get the hang of it, everything will become clearer. There are several types of work passes, some more desirable than others so find out what is right for you!

There are two things that people should know before they come to Singapore:

1) If there is NO NEED for a special invite letter (i.e. if you are going to work in Singapore for more than a year), then you can make your application for a Work Pass fairly quickly at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) office. If you can wait a few weeks, it’s going to be easier!

2) If you are here on an As-Is Permit, then it is best to get an ITEAT work pass before applying for anything else as it will make your application easier.

3)The Work Permit will be issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). You must go to the ICA office and they will process the paperwork.

The Work Permits are given to foreign workers in the following categories:

1) Student Employment (Most work permit type) – A local educational institution requires at least one student, who is not a Work Passes Singapore citizen, to be sent abroad for part of their course of study for at least 3 months or to get job experience. The Singapore work pass will be issued on the student’s behalf by his/her school.

2) Work Holiday Visa – also known as a Backpacker Visa.

3) Dependent’s Pass – Brought in by the spouse or dependant of a Singapore Citizen (SCs) or a Singapore PR (SPR).

4) Expiring Pass – this is given to study pass holders who are graduating soon and will be offered a new Singapore work pass.

5) Student Work Permit – This is given to full-time students who are granted a temporary work pass.

Choose Yours in Singapore

The easiest way is to apply for an ITEAT Work Permit because they have very early deadlines, will process the application quickly, and have very limited criteria. If you stay in Singapore for more than six months and do not have a job offer, you must apply for a Student Employment Pass as part of your course of study. For more involved students, there are mainly 4 choices of Work Pass based on the country you are from. If you are from a developing country, there are some additional considerations.

If you are a Singapore citizen, you can apply for a:

1) Student Pass (SP1) if you are studying here under a government contract.

2) Private Sector Work Passes Singapore (SP2) if you are a Singapore Citizen and will be working in the private sector. This Singapore Work Pass is only available to Singapore Citizens.

3) S-Pass (SP3) if you are a Singapore Citizen and will be working in the public sector

4) Singapore Permanent Residence (SP4) if you will be staying in Singapore for 5 years or more and will be working in the private sector. You need to apply for a Private Sector Employment Pass before you get your Singapore Pass


If you are a foreigner in Singapore and the company you are working at is not sponsoring your work pass, then you will need to make an application for a Student Employment Pass (EEP). This is the most common type of work pass for students who come to Singapore. The government does not guarantee approval of this permit, but it does give out a lot of them. If you have a job offer before applying, your chances are much better.

There are also several categories of student employment (SEE) work pass available for foreigners.

1) General Employment Pass (EEP) – For Malaysians and foreigners from all countries except Taiwan.

2) S-pass – For foreigners from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Korea. These countries are “Singapore’s Special Economic Partners” so their citizens can get an S-pass after 10 years in Singapore.

3) Exchange Programme Pass (EEP) – For foreigners who are going to study in Singapore for a year. The main differences between the General Employment Pass (EEP) and the S pass is that applicants under the S pass adhere to stricter entry requirements.

4) Work Holiday Pass (EEP) – Theoretically, you can use this work pass from a United Kingdom or New Zealand, but these countries are not bound by work permit regulation. There are also several other pass lists as well, such as the Work Passes Singapore for Overseas Students and the Special Work Permit for Overseas Students.