The quota system is in place to regulate the hiring of foreign workers and restrict employers from exceeding the allowable number of foreign hires. This quota varies depending on the industry and serves to control the influx of foreign workers. In this article, we will focus on the Singapore Employment Pass quota.

Unlike the S Pass and Work Permit, the Employment Pass does not have a foreign worker levy or quota associated with it. It is important to note that these work passes are also considered long-term visit passes (LTVP) in Singapore.

In theory, any Singapore-registered company can hire an unlimited number of foreign professionals through the Employment Pass. However, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has implemented stringent regulations and assessments for approving such applications.

MOM has recently tightened the eligibility requirements for Employment Pass candidates and has simultaneously reduced the quota for foreign expatriates working and residing in Singapore.

All employers in Singapore are expected to comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. These guidelines promote fair employment practices, enhance labor market transparency, and aim to build and retain a core workforce of Singaporean employees while supporting employment opportunities for locals.

For individuals interested in being self-employed, there is also an option to establish their own Singapore company and apply for an Employment Pass under their company.

If there is no quota, does it mean it is easy to obtain an Employment Pass?

As we enter the endemic stage, there have been numerous approvals, indicating the government’s efforts to replenish the talent pool that was affected during the pandemic.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) still allows employers to apply for Employment Passes for foreign candidates. However, they will carefully evaluate each application based on the candidate’s qualifications, offered salary, and work experience.

In recent developments, the minimum qualifying monthly salary for Employment Pass applications will increase from S$4,500 to S$5,000. Additionally, a point-based system will be introduced under the COMPASS framework, which will guide all EP applications starting from September 2023.

The new framework outlines key criteria for both the applicant and the employer, including salary benchmarks, work experience, diversity, company size, and innovation.

Employment Pass Quota Based on Nationalities

Under the new COMPASS framework, set to launch on September 1st, there is an unofficial quota based on nationalities. This falls under the employer’s diversity criteria.

While it is not a strict quota for specific nationalities, companies wishing to employ foreign talents through the Employment Pass must carefully manage their workforce resources.

The number of foreign and local employees within the same company should be balanced and diversified. For example, if a company already has four Malaysian employees holding EPs, it may be challenging to secure another Malaysian employee with an EP since no points will be awarded under the “Diversity” criterion.

However, if both the company and the candidate score well in other categories, the issue of EP quota based on nationalities and diversities will not be a concern as long as a total of 40 points can be achieved.

Please contact us at +65 9018 0072 or [email protected] if you would like to find out more.


If you have any company-related queries, you may email us at [email protected]. When in doubt, seek legal advice or consult an experienced licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower.

Yours Sincerely,
The editorial team at Singapore Employment Agency

For more useful articles and videos, visit the Singapore Employment Agency resource page.
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Little Big Employment Agency Pte Ltd is a licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower with license number 19C9790.