The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has updated their work pass processing timeframe on 11 March 2017 for the following passes:

  • Employment Pass
  • Dependant's Pass
  • Long Term Visit Pass
  • Personalised Employment Pass
  • Training Employment Pass
  • EntrePass

The MOM will now take up to 3 weeks to process the applications for the above passes, as opposed to the previous 7 working days processing timeframe. This extended processing timeframe will also apply to the renewal applications for the above passes.

There are no changes to the processing timeframe for the following applications:

  • Letter of Consent (for Dependant's Pass holders)
  • Work Permit

The MOM can take up to 1 week to process applications for a Letter of Consent for Dependant's Pass holders and for a Work Permit.

Employers should take note of the MOM's extended processing timeframe for certain work passes and set aside sufficient time accordingly when planning to make work pass applications.

Employers should especially take into account the MOM's extended processing timeframe where they require a foreign employee to commence working in Singapore on short notice, and to have a back-up plan in the event that they do not receive an outcome on a work pass application prior to the foreign employee's intended start date in Singapore.

A back-up plan is essential as it is an offence for a foreign employee to work in Singapore without a valid work pass. The penalty upon conviction for such an offence is a fine of not less than SGD 5,000 and not more than SGD 30,000, or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both for first-time offenders. For subsequent offences, the penalty upon conviction is a fine of not less than SGD 10,000 and not more than SGD 30,000, and with imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months in the case of an individual. In any other case (ie, a company), the penalty upon conviction for subsequent offences, is a fine of not less than SGD 20,000 and not more than SGD 60,000.

Lastly, it is important to keep track of the expiry of all work passes that your company has sponsored so that all renewal applications can be prepared and submitted to the MOM in a timely fashion, in order to ensure that there are no gaps in the validity of a foreign employee's work pass.