Industry Insights

From May 1, dependant’s pass holders will need to obtain work passes if they want to work in Singapore

Posted on 4/03/2021 by Paula Formantes


From May 1, spouses and family members of foreigners working in Singapore who hold dependant's passes (DP) will need to obtain a work pass to work here, the Manpower Ministry announced on Wednesday (March 3).

Currently, DP holders who want to seek employment only must get a Letter of Consent (LOC) from the MOM. 

The change means that spouses and other dependants of work pass holders will be subject to the same requirements as all other foreigners if they want to work in Singapore. 

Said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo: “We will provide sufficient time for existing DP holders working on an LOC, as well as their employers, to transit to this new arrangement. Most of them meet prevailing work pass criteria. Those that do not will have to cease working in Singapore.”

She said that most DP holders do not work during their stay in Singapore — they represent about 1 percent of all work pass holders.

When the LOC lapses, employers of DP holders will need to apply for an applicable work pass if they wish to continue hiring them. 

Existing DP holders who are currently employed can still continue working until the expiry of their LOC.

The MOM will “facilitate the transition to a work pass”, it said in a factsheet released to the media during the parliamentary debate into its budget.

The relevant qualifying salary, dependency ratio ceiling, as well as levies for the respective work passes, will apply for these employers, the ministry added.

The move is intended to align the requirements for DP holders who wish to work in Singapore with those for all other foreigners working here, and will bring consistency to recent updates to the work pass framework, said the ministry.

The framework was tightened in last year’s Unity Budget by raising the salary requirements for Employment Pass holders — from S$3,900 to S$4,500, and to at least S$5,000 for those in the financial services sector. S-Pass qualifying salaries were also raised as well.

The MOM has also recently tightened other rules on family members of foreigners. Last November, it told intra-corporate transferees — foreign employees, who were posted here by their multinational corporations — not to bring their family members to Singapore under DPs or long-term visit passes.


An exemption is granted for certain business owners who hold DPs, according to MOM.

The ministry said these DP holders can continue running the businesses with an LOC if their businesses create local employment.

They will have to fulfill the following criteria:

  • The DP holder is a sole proprietor, partner, or company director with at least 30 percent shareholding in the business
  • The business hires at least one Singaporean or permanent resident who earns at least the prevailing Local Qualifying Salary (currently S$1,400) and receives Central Provident Fund contributions for at least three months

The Local Qualifying Salary is a pay level for locals used by MOM to determine whether local workers are meaningfully employed and not just given token salaries to allow the employer to hire foreign workers.

If DP holders own businesses that do not meet the criteria, they will be allowed to run the business until the LOC expires.

They may also apply for a one-off extension of their LOC until 30 April 2022 when next renewing their DP, said the MOM.

“Thereafter, they will need to meet the criteria... in order to renew their LOC, or obtain an applicable work pass to continue working in Singapore,” it said, adding that more details of the changes will be released on May 1.

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