16 May 2013

Completing My S-Pass Employment Application!

Disclaimer: Because I mention my job in this post I am enforcing the anonymity rule with comments. Do not mention my name, position, company or office location. Any comments that do will be deleted. Same applies to me, I will NEVER refer to my position, company, its location beyond country, refer to colleagues or anything they say. I will also never post pictures, taken of either colleagues or on the office premise. In general I will be as vague or broad as possible with details! Thank you.

Heads Up: This is a continuation on my blogging about applying for an S-Pass employment visa in Singapore. If you miss part one, scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the corresponding sequences! 

So for those that haven't heard of the "Boyah Dance" I have been doing it extensively in the last two days, throwing paper into the air and screaming like a shrill Banshee on crack. That is because I have officially been made an offer by a company.


Yes, only one month in Singapore and I've managed to lock down a position with a local company. Do not take my success as the standard, even I am a bit astounded I got in the front door that fast. A tiny part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The only thing I can say is that my efforts to saturate every job application on LinkedIn may have paid off.

Sorry, as I stated in the above DISCLAIMER, my rule of anonymity on this blog forces me to hold my tongue on what my future job is, where I'll be working or what I'll be doing. Plus this is so if my future bosses stumble onto this site I won't be ripped a new one for talking about work in excruciating detail. So fair warning for my friends trickling in from my Facebook link, don't post comments with my name, the company name, office location or even my future title... it truly pains me but I will be deleting them.

Can't affording getting my lovable ass fired before I even begin!

So to help you guys who are also interviewing in Singapore, I'll walk you through the most important portion of job hunting process, finishing you Employment Pass Application, the equivalent of the H1-B work visa for Singapore.


When you interview with a company you are going to have to make clear from the start that you require a Employment Pass (EP) in order to work in Singapore. Getting this out of the way quickly can you get past a lot of frustration. I had two phone interviews end within seconds when I mentioned I needed a EP and they weren't interested. 

Easiest solution, just write in the summary section of you resume. You'll hear less responses, but you'll hear more serious responses. 

Don't feel put out, Singapore has over 1.2-million foreign nationals in the workforce and issued nearly 176,000 Employment Passes in 2011. Out of those over 15,000 are Americans, not counting their families. The government is currently pushing to have that number increased even further before 2020 and the only notable restriction currently is the Foreign Worker Quota applied to companies. This quota is split as such, 20% of a company's total employees in Singapore can be foreign, 80% must be Singaporean. In order to achieve a higher quota, they have to hire four Singaporeans for ever one foreigner. 

With an national unemployment rate of barely 1.9%, the lowest in the developed world, this is actually very easy to achieve for many companies. 

Job Offer

Now after you've interviewed with the company and they make an offer, you have to officially accept before they forward you the Work Pass application and your contract. They won't send you a thing until you speak the words "I accept the offer." Try to keep the confetti and fanfare down a bit, so no boyah dance before the future employer. 

Now you can download the application from the Ministry of Manpower website, but wait for the version the company is going to send you. That is because in some cases the company could fill in its corporate information (Big ID numbers that you can't hope to answer). 

The Ministry of Manpower claims that you should never send in an application that is older than 30-days, claiming that in that time the form could have been updated. Seriously, when was the last time a bureaucracy updated their forms? (Example: see DMV)

Best to wait for them to send you a copy, that is because as a company they are issued the Work Pass Application directly from the Ministry of Manpower the second they update. 

Work Pass Application 

Currently as of May 2013, you have to fill out the S-Pass Application (Form 8). It seems like a daunting and confusing form but here are some simple things I can go over to make it easier.

Section 1A to 2B

First off, in most cases Section 1A to Section 2B can be left blank. That is usually filled out by the company.

However the very top section your going to notice the application is going to be asking for a passport sized photo. Now this is not going to be the picture you took years ago at the post office that made you look like a drunk and cross-eyes (screw you, I had the flu when it was taken seven-years ago!). 

Instead you have to get a recent photo of yourself. Most malls in Singapore have a photo-booth to do that but if your feeling cheap like me, just get someone to take a picture of you with your iPhone in just a nice shirt. No one wants to see your pants, just your upper body. Then just re-size your fancy and glamorous model shot to the 25 by 35 millimeters standard (210 by 240 pixels if you want to be extra, super, obnoxiously exact). It doesn't matter if its black & white or color, but use color if you can because its easier to go color to black and white then from black and white to color.

Section 2C

Section 2C is where your going to begin, your not in charge of the company so mark No, and then if your applying for your first job in Singapore as an expatriate, check the first box, because you need both a work pass and an S-Pass. I can't advise on switching jobs, if you know, please comment below ↓.

Again you are going to notice the application asking for Company’s CPF Submission Number. Skip it, unless they tell you, your not going to find it without pulling a lot of teeth and getting really frustrated. 

Section 3

Section 3 can be skipped unless you used a employment agency. I did not, so sorry I can't add a thing. 

Section 4

Section 4 is where your going to start filling in your personal information, very self-explanatory. It's here you have to note if your married or not. Here is where you have to make sure you have a copy of your marriage license handy and if its not in English, a translated copy from your country's embassy. 

Section 4B is also where you need to add in your passport information. In most cases you'll note if you have a Hong Kong Special Admin Region, International Certificate of Identity, International Passport and Macau SAR Travel Permit. Again you'll need to make sure you have a copy of passport with the photo and the passport number visible.

Now the race section, that's normal on almost anything even if secretly I think its a bit racist and unnecessary  I pass it off more as a requirement for census demographics and statistics that the government just loves to gobble up. But the religious declaration portion, that tripped me up.

At first I took some offense to this! How dare they ask me this question! I am atheist but raised Catholic, yet I am very reserved about having to declare my beliefs are in any official capacity. They are my beliefs, I shouldn't have declare or defend them, I'd prefer to keep them privately to myself the way I am most comfortable with.

But in looking into the status of religion in Singapore I was oddly surprised. The population breaks into the following:

  • 33% Buddhist
  • 18% Christian
  • 17% non-Religious
  • 14% Taoist
  • 5% Hindui
  • 0.7% Other

The government does allow for religious freedom but it is also strictly secular and does not tolerate any religious discussion or speech in the public forum like advertising, political speech or protest, censoring it regardless if it is positive or negative as its seen as adversely affecting racial or religious harmony. I found this oddly comforting, back in the United States myself and the rest of the LGBT community are regularly denied benefits or rights by conservative Congressmen and several former Presidents under the guise of it going against " What God Intended". Now Singapore doesn't have many LGBT protections or rights but still it doesn't throw "God's Law" in your face when trying to have a political discussion.

Sorry, I ran off on an tangent again, back to work. 

Section 4C is where your going to fill out your residence information. YOU CAN NOT APPLY FOR A S-PASS IF YOUR NOT IN SINGAPORE! Don't worry if your currently holding up at a hotel or a friend's place but are going to moving out to a glorious HDB apartment any day now. You can just add in the employing company's address and they'll just forward the mail right to you there. 

Section 5

Here is where you can prove all that money your parent's spent on your education was worth it. The application ask for you to list the last two higher education institutions you attended. If your like me and think your Bachelor of the Arts (Journalism Degree!) is all you need to prove your smarts, don't worry, just leave the second batch of boxes blank. 

Again, make sure you have a copy of your diploma. I just took a picture of it and made sure to keep the wood of the table it sat on out of the background. A fair number of companies also require copies of your college transcripts and GPA's, so time to start worrying about those semesters of consecutive C+ grades. Most places will be happy with just a scanned copy of your diploma. If you don't have it, time to call mom and have her head over to the local copy center and walk her through the painful process of working a copier. 

The next part is Section 5B, Societies/Organisations Membership. Unless your a major member in a major political party or action group, like chairwoman of the National Party of Female Republican for Horticulturists with a Peg Leg, skip this portion. 

Section 6

This area is for your spouse to fill out if you checked "Married" in Section 4. Now regardless if your spouse is filling out there own S-Pass Application, you still have to fill this out. That is because if your spouse decides to be the stay-at-home parent or loses their job, adding them on your Application will keep them from facing a lot of headaches. Having your name and reference number on their application will ensure someone at the Ministry of Manpower will know not to sent out an order to leave Singapore or be deported when they see their no longer working. 

Section 7

Employment, this is where your going to be listing every job and position that you've held previously. For most of us this list won't be very long, for me it was only two positions in two years. Sorry summers waiting tables, you aren't applicable unless I used a college degree to get in.

You will have to fill out:
  1. Total Period of Working Experience
  2. Total Period of Relevant Working Experience
The first one, Total Period of Working Experience is how long since you graduated from college have you been working. Now for me, that's from October 2011 until today. Just use this Date/Time Calculator to figure that out.

For me its 1-year and 7-months. 

Now from this number you have to note for the second one, Total Period of Relevant Working Experience, is how long you've been working that can directly be correlated to the position your taking on. Since I'm working in the same industry this whole time, that entire 1-year and 7-months I can add to that part. If you've recently gone back to school to get a degree and are now re-entering the work force for a new job, sorry but your Relevant Working Experience get's scaled back unless you can toss in an internship or twelve. 

Next, you have to fill in the information on your future position your taking the offer for. That simply is the fixed monthly salary in Singapore Dollars (how much total your making with commissions , basic monthly salary in Singapore Dollars (the basic amount your making without commission), the job title and the office address I'll be working out of. So since I'm working for the same amount each month, its the same for both sections, then the name of my future position and then the location of where my future desk will be sitting.

Be careful, I sent in my first version with my salary and my previous salaries set for a complete year instead of monthly. That got the HR people sending me a confused email asking how I could possibly make so much in a single month... God I wish but that required a quick change and an email back that wasted time. 

According to Section 7D, since I'm a licensed professional like a nurse, lawyer or doctor (my mom would faint with glee if I was), I don't need to do a thing here other than check no. 

Section 8

This is your last part (Hooray!), and is pretty basic. Unless you've done anything drastic in your past, like been arrested, deported, forbidden to enter Singapore, spit in the Queen of England's pancakes (Fine, I'm joking), everything should be a No except for Section 8G, if your currently in Singapore.

Now since you have to be in Singapore to apply for a job, you can give one of three reasons what brought you into the country originally: 
  • Study
  • Work
  • Other (Visitor Visa)
Because I am not already here on an existing work pass or here to study at a university, I have gone with the third option. I arrived in the country and went through customs, walking away with a 90-day extended stay visa. I just have to note that my length of stay is three-months. 

So after finishing Section 8 all you have to complete is sign your name twice, date the signatures and then your done! Everything after this is meant for official use or to be stamped by the company.

What to Add

Now that your application is done, let's confirm our checklist to make sure we have everything to submit. 
  •  Form 8 S-Pass Application form: 
    • Completed and Signed by Applicant. 
    • Completed, Stamped and Signed by Sponsor Company 
  • 1x Copy of supporting documents. REMEMBER: Non-English documents must be accompanied by an official English translation done by a certified translator, High Commission/Embassy or a notary public.
    • Copy of recent Passport or equivalent.
    • Recent picture at sized for passport. Pick any picture of yourself 25 by 35 millimeters, white background, in color or b&w. 
    • Applicant’s Educational Certificates:
      • Diploma/Degree Qualifications
    • Registration or Support Letters from the respective Vetting Agency/Professional Body/Accreditation Agency. This is only needed for licensed professionals: 
      • Doctor – Singapore Medical Council
      • Dentist – Singapore Dental Council
      • Pharmacist – Singapore Pharmacy Council
      • Nurse – Singapore Nursing Board
      • TCM Practitioner – Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board
      • Lawyer – Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers
      • Football Player/Coach – Singapore Sports Council
  • Support letter from International Enterprise (IE) Singapore (For application submitted by Representative’s Office).
  • Official marriage certificate (For applicant with Singaporean spouse only).


Now a key thing to remember is the second you submit your S-Pass Application Form, whether sending it directly back to the employer or right to the Ministry of Manpower, the moment that application leaves your hands YOU CAN NOT LEAVE SINGAPORE until its approved. 

Every time I went in to talk to my future employers, they asked me repeatedly "Are you planning to travel?" I had to explain as humor-filled as possible and without a hint of desperation, that no, my glamorous life will not be including going anywhere in the world that can't be reached by local bus. 

Just remember, if you decide to take a weekend on the islands of Thailand, up to Japan to grab some authentic sushi or even  taking a care ride over to Malaysia for a little rain-forest hiking... you've just made a big mistake and could have reset your entire application process. That is because if you are not psychically in Singapore, your application is stopped, sent back to the bottom of the queue and has to go through all the steps again. 

I'm sorry but as it's been made clear to me, there are tragically no exceptions to the rules. 

So get ready for some weekends cruising the local malls because your jet setting is on hold for the time being.


So with everything done, scanned, copied and filed away, its now time to submit the papers to your future employer to have them add in their own information, double check all your stuff and submit it to the Ministry of Manpower. 

And your done! Congratulations you've completed your S-Pass Application! It normally will take between 3 to 10-days to get a confirmation. Once it is, you technically can start working! In the meantime you'll have some documents to complete before heading off to get your official Employment Pass!

Read about the employment pass medical examination in the next post: Employment Pass Medical Checkup

For those that missed it, here is the complete S-Pass Application Process. Click below for:

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