What is the change? The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will no longer accept manual applications for most pass types.

What does the change mean? Most pass applications for foreign workers and their dependents must be filed through MOM’s online portal beginning June 1.

  • Implementation timeframe: June 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment and S Passes and related Dependent or Long Term Visit Passes; Training Employment Passes; and Work Permits.
  • Who is affected: All companies that sponsor work passes for foreign employees and their dependents.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing of online applications is typically much faster than processing of manual applications.
  • Business impact: Companies need to create a work pass account before being able to file pass applications online and will face delays if they don’t. Additionally, companies that do not fully support their foreign employees’ dependent applications will need to review their policies.
  • Next steps: Companies that have not completed MOM’s work pass account registration and that anticipate filing new or renewal pass applications after June 1 should complete the registration as soon as possible. Companies that do not support processing of foreign employee’s Long Term Visit Pass applications for certain dependents should review how to accommodate these online filings.

Background: MOM recently announced that as of June 1, all new and renewal applications for Work Permits, Training Employment Passes, Employment Passes, S Passes and related Dependent or Long Term Visit Passes must be submitted online through MOM’s filing portal, EPOL. Manual applications will only be accepted for EntrePass, Personal Employment Pass and third-party sponsored work pass applications.

In order to submit pass applications through EPOL, the sponsor company must complete a registration process to create a work pass account. The registration process can be initiated online by a company representative using his or her personal SingPass, the company’s unique entity number and CPF submission number. The complete process for setting up the account and authorizing access for permitted users can take several weeks.

MOM has stated that currently 98 percent of applications for work pass and related dependent passes are submitted online through EPOL. Online applications are generally processed in seven to 12 business days. Manual applications are typically submitted by newly formed companies that wish to immediately hire foreign workers or by foreign employees who are submitting Long Term Visit Pass applications for their parents, common law spouses or children who are not eligible for a Dependent Pass. Manual applications generally take a month or more to be processed by MOM.

BAL Analysis: The change will have the biggest impact on companies that do not fully support Long Term Visit Pass applications for dependents of their foreign employees. Many companies require their foreign employees to file these Long Term Visit Pass applications manually themselves. This will no longer be an option under MOM’s new online filing policy and companies will need to review their internal procedures and decide how to accommodate these filings. The new online filing requirement may also cause potential staffing delays for newly formed companies that must now wait for their Work Pass Account to be completely set up before beginning work pass applications for foreign employees.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our regional office in Singapore. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact