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SINGAPORE – Employment Pass Applicants Will Require a Notification Letter to Start Work

With effect from 16 March 2015, the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter will no longer allow Employment Pass (EP) applicants to start work. Instead, an applicant can only start work once their pass has been issued and they have received a Notification Letter (NL).

The new rule reflects recent faster EP issuance times, but is likely to delay the date that work can be started.


Currently, the In-Principal Approval (IPA) given to an EP applicant is valid for six months. The IPA is meant as confirmation that the work pass application has been approved, and to allow applicants time to make plans to come to Singapore to work.

On arrival, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) needs to be notified before the EP applicant can start work with their employers. Employers must notify MOM by requesting for issuance of the work pass through Employment Pass Online (EPOL).

In the past, as request for EP issuance involved multiple steps and could take some time, EP applicants were allowed to work on the IPAs while waiting for the issuance of the work passes. More recently, MOM says it has streamlined the EP issuance process.

In view of this, from 16 March 2015 MOM will require that issuance of work passes be completed before the EP applicant can start work, and the IPA letters will be amended to reflect this change.

Action Items

  • Employers should begin the Employment Pass issuance process as soon as possible upon arrival in Singapore.
  • EP holders should then proceed for work pass card registration as soon as possible, as the Notification Letter is only valid for one month.

This alert was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore and Kinetica PTE Ltd.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.