Letter of Consent in Singapore: Eligibility and How to Apply
There are various ways that a potential foreign employee may be allowed to legally work for a Singapore company. One of these ways is through the application of a Letter of Consent by an employer.
If you are an employer in Singapore who wants to know how to apply for a Letter of Consent for the hiring of foreign employees, read on.
This article will cover:
- What is a Letter of Consent?
- What is a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- Who can apply for a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- How does the employer apply for a Letter of Consent for their potential foreign employee?
- How long does the application for a Letter of Consent take?
- What is the duration for the validity of the Letter of Consent and the Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- Is there a minimum salary requirement to obtain a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- What are the conditions that foreign employees need to abide by in order to validly work under a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- What is the obligation of an employer that wishes to hire a potential employee holding a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
- What are the factors that may affect the outcome of an application for a Letter of Consent?
- How can a Letter of Consent be cancelled?
- What should be done if a Letter of Consent is lost?
- Can the Letter of Consent be renewed and if so, how?
What is a Letter of Consent?
A Letter of Consent (LOC) is an authorisation certificate issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that allows eligible holders of a Dependant’s Pass (excluding the dependant of an S Pass holder) or Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP or LTVP+) to work in Singapore.
The following pass holders are eligible to work under an LOC:
- Holder of a Dependant’s Pass that will be valid for at least 3 months from date of application of LOC;
- Holder of LTVP/LTVP+ and is the spouse of a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident, where the pass will be valid for at least 3 months from date of application of LOC; and
- Holder of LTVP and is the unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident where the pass will be valid for at least 3 months from date of application of LOC.
As briefly mentioned above, the dependant of an S Pass holder cannot validly work in Singapore under an LOC. A work permit, S Pass or Employment Pass must be secured instead.
Furthermore, the potential foreign employee must NOT be holding a directorial role or be a shareholder in the employer company. LOC holders are also not allowed to work in objectionable occupations such as being a bar/dance hostess or masseur.
In order to validly work under an LOC, the potential foreign employee must have already secured a job offer from a Singapore employer since it is actually the employer that applies for the LOC (as will be discussed further in a later part of this article).
However, if a foreigner wants to be able to work in Singapore even prior to securing a job offer, then a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent (PLOC) may be a viable option instead.
What is a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
The PLOC allows foreign spouses or unmarried children (below 21 years of age) of a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident (must have an LTVP or LTVP+) to secure jobs faster and switch employment more conveniently. This is because the PLOC may be applied for without securing a job offer beforehand, as mentioned above.
The PLOC is tied to an individual and not to a specific employer or employment, as opposed to the LOC which is only valid for the duration of the employment. Therefore, the PLOC holder need not renew or reapply for a PLOC upon any change of employment.
Similar to LOC holders, there are also a list of restricted occupations for PLOC holders (which is much more exhaustive) such as, but not limited to:
- Art critic;
- Media producer/editor; and
- Religion-related occupations.
Who Can Apply for a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
The employer or an appointed employment agent can apply for the LOC. The LOC will be sent to the employer, and the foreign employee can begin work only when the employer has received the LOC. It must be noted that only Singapore employers can apply for an LOC.
On the other hand, PLOCs are applied for by eligible foreigners. They will be given the option to apply for a PLOC when applying for or renewing their LTVP/LTVP+, for no additional fee.
How Does the Employer Apply for a Letter of Consent for their Potential Foreign Employee?
An application can be submitted online via the Ministry of Manpower’s Employment Pass (EP) Online portal. Before applying for the LOC however, the employer needs to obtain the potential foreign employee’s written consent to be gainfully employed by that employer.
There is no particular format for the fulfilment of this requirement, and the MOM will accept any document that clearly shows a foreign employee’s acceptance of the employer’s job offer. An example of this written consent may be a signed contract of employment.
For some professions or occupations, additional documents must be submitted when applying for the LOC. These occupations include regional representatives of overseas companies, healthcare professionals, lawyers, football players or coaches, and employees in food establishments.
For a detailed list of the additional required documents, please check the Ministry of Manpower’s website here.
If the additional required documents are not in English, then both the original documents, as well as an English translation, must be submitted. The MOM also reserves the right to ask for any other necessary documents while reviewing the LOC application.
Once the letter is approved, the LOC may be obtained and printed from the EP Online portal.
Similar to the PLOC, there is no application fee for LOC applications.
How Long Does the Application for a Letter of Consent Take?
For Dependant’s Pass holders, LOC applications will usually be processed within 3 weeks. For LTVP/LTVP+ holders, the application may take 1 week for most cases.
Employers may check the application status in the EP Online portal after 1 week from submission of application. If more information is required, the application may take longer to process.
What is the Duration for the Validity of the Letter of Consent and the Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
The LOC is valid for the duration indicated by the employer in the LOC application. However it becomes invalid upon expiry of the employee’s Dependant’s Pass, LTVP or LTVP+, whichever is earlier.
Accordingly, the LOC stops being valid in the following instances:
- Once the Dependant’s Pass, LTVP or LTVP+ is cancelled;
- Once the Dependant’s Pass, LTVP or LTVP+ expires; or
- If the foreign employee is no longer employed by the employer that applied for their LOC. In this instance, however, the employer still needs to cancel the LOC.
For PLOC holders, the duration of the PLOC will be the same as that of their LTVP/LTVP+. Hence similar to the above, once the LTVP/LTVP+ expires or is cancelled, the PLOC ceases to be valid.
Is there a Minimum Salary Requirement to Obtain a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
No, there is no minimum salary requirement for LOC and PLOC holders. No foreign worker levy or quota is also required when an employer wishes to hire LOC or PLOC holders.
What are the Conditions That Foreign Employees Need to Abide by in Order to Validly Work Under a Letter of Consent or a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
For employees under a Letter of Consent
Per the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, the foreign employee shall:
- Engage only in the trade, profession or occupation specified in the LOC; and
- Obtain prior consent from the MOM before engaging in any trade, profession or occupation not specified in the LOC.
Furthermore, the foreign employee shall inform the MOM, within 7 days, of the:
- Termination or completion (without renewal) of the employment that is the subject of the LOC; or
- Cancellation or expiry (without renewal) of the foreigner’s immigration pass.
For employees under a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent
PLOC holders who take up employment in Singapore, must show their employer the PLOC that was issued alongside their valid LTVP/LTVP+. Other legal requirements specific to practice of certain professions, such as registration requirements, must also be complied with.
What is the Obligation of an Employer That Wishes to Hire a Potential Employee Holding a Pre-Approved Letter of Consent?
Employers of PLOC holders are required to notify the MOM of the employment before the employee starts work, and also notify the MOM of any termination of employment within 7 days from the employee’s last day of work.
What are the Factors That May Affect the Outcome of an Application for a Letter of Consent?
Each application is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the outcome of the application is entirely at the discretion of the MOM. The following are some factors that can affect the successful grant of an LOC:
- The potential employee’s age, salary, citizenship, qualifications (including education, work experience and skills).
- The potential employee’s overall job profile.
- The economic viability of the Singapore company applying for the LOC on behalf of the potential employee.
- The availability of local candidates for the position being offered to the foreign potential employee. For example, the outcome for the successful grant of the LOC increases if the job or position being filled by the employee is in a field where local candidates (i.e. Singapore citizens or permanent residents) are not readily available.
How Can a Letter of Consent be Cancelled?
The employer or an appointed employment agent may apply for the cancellation of the LOC within 1 week after the foreign employee’s last day of the notice period for the termination of employment.
Before cancellation, however, the following need to be accomplished:
- A tax clearance must first be sought from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore; and
- All outstanding employment issues, including full payment of salaries, should first be settled.
Cancellation can be done via the EP Online portal and takes immediate effect.
What Should be Done If a Letter of Consent is Lost?
In instances when the LOC is lost or misplaced, the loss must be reported to the MOM and a replacement should be requested through here.
Can the Letter of Consent be Renewed and If So, How?
The employer or an appointed employment agent may apply for the renewal of the LOC in order to continue valid and lawful employment of the foreign employee.
For Dependant’s Pass holders, the LOC must be renewed when the Dependant’s Pass is also being renewed. Application for renewal can be done up to 6 months before the LOC expires.
For LTVP/LTVP+ holders, application for renewal can also be done up to 6 months before the LOC expires. However, the LTVP/LTVP+ must be valid for at least 3 months in order for the LOC to be renewed. If it is not, the foreign employee must first renew the LTVP/LTVP+.
Similar to the application for cancellation of LOC, renewal can be done via the EP Online portal. There is no application fee required for LOC renewal.
If you are a Singapore employer intending to hire a Dependant’s Pass or LTVP/LTVP+ holder, do note that the validity of an LOC or a PLOC is directly tied to the immigration status of your potential foreign employee.
Hence if you require any assistance to ensure a smooth hiring process, engaging a corporate services firm may be beneficial not just for the application of the LOC, but also to provide assistance to your potential employee’s application for a (or renewal of their existing) Dependant’s Pass, LTVP or LTVP+.
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