Married Spouses of S Pass, Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass and ONE Pass Holders are usually accorded the rights to dependent passes if they meet the criteria and move to Singapore to live with their spouses. The duration and expiry date of the dependent pass is the same as the main pass holders.
Spouses on dependent passes form a substantial number of untapped talents in Singapore particularly in a tight labour market. Many if not most are highly qualified and skilled in their own areas of expertise. Some have decided to give up their thriving careers back home at least temporarily to relocate to Singapore to be with their spouses who are transferred or opted to work in Singapore. Those with children may take the opportunity to be full time care givers for their children. Others without children may also want to continue to pursue their interest and careers in Singapore. However, their unique skills set may not necessarily be in demand in Singapore. Many are willing to settle for a lesser role or junior role to find meaningful work to make full use of their time in Singapore.
The rules governing whether spouses of Employment Pass holders should be allowed / Consent to Work and whether any criteria should be applied to them have been subjected to much debate by law makers and changes over the years. Many have argued that being new, the willingness of dependent pass holders’ to take jobs at junior or lesser demanding roles has created a situation of unfair competition for jobs and takes away employment opportunities for locals.
The term used by the authorities for foreigners who are dependent pass holders but allowed to work is known as Consent to Work.
Dependent Pass holders have the following options if they would like to work in Singapore:
1) Setting Up Own Business
The business structure can be a sole proprietorship, partnership or private limited company. The choice of any this business structure would involve varying degree of start up cost and compliance cost. This option may be attractive to dependent pass holders who want flexibility with their work schedule due to family commitments or those pursuing /continuing their existing business pursuits.
Once the above is setup, dependent pass holders can apply as business owner
or director of their own businesses to work with a Letter of Consent to Work from the Ministry of Manpower.
The initial approval period for the Letter of Consent to Work is 12 months subject to renewal. The main condition of renewal would be that the business needs to hire at least one local Singaporean/PR staff with the required minimum salary to work for the business. This is an added business cost which needs to be considered carefully before pursuing this option.
Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower
2. Working as Employee of Local Businesses
Dependent Pass holders of S Pass/ Employment Pass and Personalised Employment Pass holders can also choose to local businesses as employee holding a work permit subject to the availability of foreign work quota of the employing company. If approved, the local company is also required to pay monthly levies to the government of varying amount.
The key exception to the need for work permit would be the dependent pass of Overseas Network & Expertise Pass (ONE Pass). Dependent pass holders of ONE Pass holders can choose to work by simply applying for a Letter of Consent to Work. The employing company is not required to apply for a work permit or monthly levy for such cases.
Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower
In summary, there are now more work options for dependent pass holders in Singapore. Dependent Pass holders can now meaningfully contribute their skills and talent to the Singapore economy either by working for employers or running their own businesses. Those who choose to work in Singapore will alleviate the manpower shortage without causing undue unfair competition to locals. For those running their own businesses, they add to the business ecosystem and vibrancy in Singapore. They create employment opportunities too for locals as they are required to hire at least one local employee if they wish to continue operating their business beyond one year.