Singapore's Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)
The Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) is a special type of visa that is granted only to highly qualified individuals. It is more difficult to obtain than an Employment Pass. The PEP is not linked to a specific employer; as a result, the PEP holder can switch jobs in Singapore. However, the PEP holder must not be unemployed for longer than six months at a stretch.
Key PEP Facts
The PEP is a work pass that allows a foreigner to work and live in the country, travel in and out of the country without restrictions, bring family members to live in the country, and change employers without the need for prior approval from the government. The government awards this visa to professionals whose skills enable them to earn a high salary. However, a PEP holder is not allowed to start a business in Singapore, (s)he must be employed. A few salient features of the PEP are:
- The candidate or an agent of the candidate can apply for the PEP.
- The candidate must have earned a fixed monthly salary of at least S$18,000 per month if the candidate is not currently residing in Singapore. This minimum prior salary requirement for a candidate who already holds an Employment Pass is lower at S$12,000 per month.
- The PEP is granted for up to 3 years.
- The PEP is issued only once and it can not be renewed.
- PEP holders can bring certain family members into Singapore on a Dependant Pass or Long Term Visit Pass.
To be approved for a PEP by MOM, candidates must meet the following qualifications:
- All nationalities can apply for an EP.
- The foreign professional must have drawn a salary of at least S$18,000 per month in the last job within the prior 6 months. If the candidate currently holds an Employment Pass, this limit is lowered to S$12,000. Once employed on the PEP, the candidate must earn a salary of $144,000 per calendar year regardless of the number of months worked.
- The position in Singapore must be for a managerial, executive or specialist role. The candidate can not work as a freelancer.
- The PEP holder must not be a sole proprietor or partner in a Singapore entity. (S)he must also not be a director and shareholder in a Singapore company. If you plan to engage in entrepreneurial activity in Singapore, you should apply for the EntrePass.
- The PEP can switch jobs in Singapore but must not be unemployed for longer than 6 months at a stretch.
- MOM evaluates each case based on the track record of the candidate and the special skill set he or she brings to the Singapore economy.
- Candidates without qualifications can still be approved for an PEP. On the other hand, candidates with qualifications are not automatically eligible.
If you already hold an Employment Pass then you will have to provide information about the following documents but you do not have to submit their copies since they were previously submitted with the Employment Pass application.
- The personal particulars page of the candidate’s passport
- The name and address of the employer, if available.
- Details of the offer from the Singapore-based employer.
- Local contact information if already in Singapore
If you currently do not hold an Employment Pass then copies of the following documents will be required:
- The personal particulars page of the candidate’s passport.
- Details of last employment contract.
- Details of employment contract that has been offered in Singapore.
- Tax statement validating the income from previous job.
- Salary slips and supporting bank records for previous three months.
- Resume and relevant credentials
Note that all documents must be in English or translated into English.
1. Submit an application.
- The candidate or the candidate’s representative can submit the application with a fee of S$105.
- Manual applications through the mail must be submitted over the counter at a SingPost location and are processed in 8 weeks or longer. In addition to the required documents, the application must also include the following:
- A completed PEP Application Form and
- Any applicable documents mentioned in the form
- The decision will be available in no more than 8 weeks.
2. If approved, MOM will send an in-principle approval letter (IPA).
- Applicants will receive the IPA by email to the email address provided in the application.
- Once the IPA has been received, the candidate will have 6 months to enter Singapore and request to issue the PEP.
- The IPA
3. Issue the PEP. The candidate must be in Singapore to request to issue the PEP. To issue the pass, companies and employment agents must submit the following through EP Online:
- The candidate’s passport details
- The details of the candidate’s current Short Term Visit Pass or immigration pass
- The candidate’s residential address in Singapore
- The local address where the PEP card can be delivered
- Contact details of at least one authorized recipient who can receive an SMS or email alert with delivery details
- Payment of S$225 for each pass and S$30 if a multiple journey visa is also requested
Certain cases may also require these additional documents:
- A Disembarkation/Embarkation card (also called the immigration white card)
- A completed declaration form attached with the candidate’s in-principle approval letter
Once the documents are submitted the PEP will be issued immediately.
4. Once the PEP is issued, the candidate will receive a notification letter. The notification letter is valid for 1 month and allows the candidate to work and travel in and out of Singapore. In addition, the notification letter will state if the candidate needs to have his or her fingerprints registered and photo taken.
5. Register fingerprints and get photo taken (if necessary). New candidates and candidates who last registered over 5 years ago must register their fingerprints and have their photo taken with 2 weeks of the PEP being issued. Candidates must make an appointment with the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC). At the appointment, candidates must have the following documents ready:
- Original passport
- Appointment letter
- Notification letter
- Documents listed in the IPA letter and notification letter
6. Receive the PEP card. The candidate will receive the card within 4 working days after you visit the EPSC and get your documents verified.
Keeping your PEP Current
The PEP imposes certain obligations on the holder to ensure that the authorities have correct information about any change in the status of the PEP holder. You are required to notify MOM in the following situations:
- If you change a job, you must notify MOM within 1 week of starting an employment, leaving an employment, or changing employers.
- If any change occurs in your local contact person’s details.
- At the end of each calendar year, you must declare your annual salary earned.
- If your residential address changes.
- If any of your personal particulars change such as new passport, change of name, change of marital status etc.
It is best to engage the services of a professional services firm who is experienced with all notification requirements to ensure that you stay compliant with the PEP rules.
Options for Family Members
PEP holders are allowed to bring certain family members to Singapore. Family members can enter Singapore under a Dependent Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass.
The following family members can enter with a dependent pass:
- A legally married spouse
- Unmarried children under 21, including those legally adopted
With a Dependant Pass, a family member can work in Singapore as long as he or she receives a Letter of Consent.
The following family members are allowed to enter Singapore with a Long Term Visit Pass:
- A Common-law spouse
- Unmarried handicapped children above 21
- Unmarried stepchildren under 21
- Parents (this is only permitted for EP holders earning at least S$10,000 per month)
Long Term Visit Pass holders are allowed to work in Singapore permitted they receive a work permit.
Frequently Asked Questions
You cannot apply for a Personalized Employment Pass if you are one of the following:
- A foreigner who is interested in working as a freelancer.
- Under the Sponsorship System, an employee pass.
- A reporter, producer, editor, or a deputy editor.
- A sole proprietor, partner or a director in an ACRA-registered company where you also are a shareholder.
- A sole owner, partner or manager, and shareholder in a company registered with ACRA.
The PEP is awarded for a period of three years, and it cannot be renewed. If the PEP holder has not acquired the Singapore Permanent Resident status, he or she will have to apply for an Employment Pass to resume their work in Singapore after the PEP has expired. However, the PEP holder will not be allowed to work in Singapore if the request for the Employment Pass is not approved.
No, that is one activity that you are explicitly prohibited from engaging in.
While the PEP visa is a very good visa as an employee (it provides you the flexibility to switch employers as long as you are not unemployed for longer than 6 months) it is not suitable if you wish to start your own business venture in Singapore. The PEP regulations specifically prohibit the visa holder from starting a new business. You are also not allowed to be an employee of your own company, or engaging in any entrepreneurial activities. Therefore, you will have to switch to either an Entrepreneur Pass or an Employment Pass (which can be sponsored by your new company) subject to meeting the eligibility requirements of these passes. You can review the PEP regulations and restrictions here.
MOM needs to have a local contact (a Permanent Resident or a citizen of Singapore at least 22 years old) who can be contacted on your behalf in case of an emergency. This can be the HR manager of your employer, a friend, or some person at the Corporate Services firm that helps you obtain the PEP. This person is not responsible in any manner for you i.e. the person is not guaranteeing your PEP application.