Updated: Oct 9, 2019
There is a lot of demand for jobs in Singapore from applicants outside of the country and over the last few years, regulations on applying for an Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore have been getting stricter, making this a tough time to land your first job here!
How does the Visa Process work?
Firstly, companies are required to have assessed whether there are any Singaporean applicants who are suitable for the role, and only if there are not can they decide to employ a foreigner and apply for an Employment Pass (EP)*.
Then the salary they are paying you needs to match the required level for your experience. While the figures they use aren’t publicly available, it’s worth knowing the minimum salary for an EP from Jan 1st 2017 onward is $3600. This has changed frequently over the years so check for updates at the time of your own job search. You can use the Ministry of Manpower self-assessment tool to work out what your own minimum salary requirements would be, using trial and error.
Once those requirements are met the visa process is pretty straightforward, usually taking around 3 weeks from the point of application, but can be up to 3 months or more in rare cases.
How do you find a company that can meet those requirements and land your dream job in Singapore?
If you have firmly decided on Singapore as your next career move, our best advice would be to spend as much time here as possible.
Your experience may be great but what will really set you aside from your peers is actually being here! Face-time is very valuable in this market so it is a huge benefit to be on the ground as much as possible. Most visitors from other countries are entitled to between 30-90 days on a tourist visa, which gives you plenty of time to meet with as many people as you can. Singapore has lots of networking events, and most people are very open to meeting for a networking coffee.
The average process time we see for hiring in Singapore is usually around 2-3 months, so be patient if you find that you aren’t getting interviews straightaway. You may need to plan one or two trips, or even better, stay for a month or more. Accommodation in Singapore can be expensive, so if you’re coming for a longer period of time, make sure you plan ahead financially.
Of course, as there’s no guarantee that you will manage to set up interviews during a visit, you should connect with relevant recruiters and hiring managers a couple of months before you arrive/plan your trip. This is a great way to understand the market, whether your experience and skills are in-demand, and to get advice for making yourself more marketable to Singaporean companies.
While you’re planning your move, bear in mind that living costs in Singapore can vary hugely. Although Singapore is often stated as one of the most expensive places to live in the world, that is partly because the price of owning a car and buying property are very high compared to bigger countries with more room. If you don’t do either of those things (public transport and taxis are very efficient and very cheap, and affordable rental property is readily available), it’s a very livable city. You can find more information on living costs here.
*EPs are the most common visa for our own candidates, based on the type of roles we work on, but you can check out details of other visas on the MOM website, such as the Dependent's Pass (DP) if you’re moving here with a spouse who already has an EP, or an SPass which is open to lower wage roles, based on individual company quota.