Process Sector: Foreign Worker Work Permit Requirements

To (employ foreign workers for the process sector), you will have to meet specific requirements for business activity, worker’s source country or region, quota, and safety courses.

These requirements are additional and specific to the process sector. You should refer to the general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.

To employ foreign workers for the process sector, you will have to meet specific requirements for business activity, worker’s source country or region, quota and safety courses.

These requirements are additional and specific to the process sector. You should refer to the general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.

The process sector includes plants in the manufacturing of petroleum, petrochemicals, specialty chemicals and pharmaceutical products.

The production processes of these plants in the process sector involve specialised equipment and machinery. The construction and maintenance of the production units within these plants, which are classified as process construction and maintenance (PCM) works, require niche skills and expertise.

Such works are carried out by PCM contractors. They work with the process plant owners and engineering, procurement and construction companies to build and maintain the production units of the process plants.

Company requirements

A business providing PCM services to plants must be a corporate member of the Association of the Process Industry (ASPRI). Before it can recruit foreign PCM workers, the business must also be endorsed by ASPRI as a PCM contractor.

For more information on membership and registration, refer to ASPRI’s website.

Worker requirements

Foreign workers employed for PCM works can only perform activities related to the construction, preventive and breakdown maintenance of plant equipment.

These workers are not allowed to be involved in the plant’s operations (operating plant equipment, warehousing and packing, etc.) or peripheral services (grass cutting, cleaning of offices, roads, waste disposal etc.

You can only hire foreign workers who satisfy the conditions for source countries or regions, age when applying and maximum period of employment.

Source countries or regions

You can employ foreign workers from these countries or regions:

  • Malaysian Worker
  • People’s Republic of China (PRC Worker) China Workers
  • Non-traditional sources (NTS):
    • India Worker
    • Sri Lanka Workers
    • Thailand Worker
    • Bangladesh Workers
    • Myanmar Worker
    • Philippines Workers
  • North Asian sources (NAS):
    • Hong Kong Worker (HKSAR passport)
    • Macau Workers
    • South Korea Worker
    • Taiwan Worker

Age when applying

The minimum age for all non-domestic foreign workers is 18 years old.

When applying for a Work Permit:

  • Malaysians must be below 58 years old.
  • Non-Malaysians must be below 50 years old.

Maximum period of employment

For the process sector, the maximum number of years a foreign worker can work in Singapore on a Work Permit is as follows:

Source country / regionType of workerMaximum period of employment
NTS, PRCBasic-skilled (R2)14 years
NTS, PRCHigher-skilled (R1)26 years
NAS, MalaysiaAll sectorsNo maximum period of employment.

Note: All workers can only work up to 60 years of age.

Approved occupations for NTS and PRC workers

NTS and PRC Work Permit holders in the process sector can only be employed as “Process Maintenance and Construction Worker” or “Process Maintenance and Construction Worker-cum-Driver”.

They can engage only in work that requires these 13 skill sets:

  1. Electrical and Instrumentation works
  2. General fitting
  3. Machine fitting
  4. Metal Scaffolding
  5. Painting and blasting
  6. Plant civil works
  7. Plant equipment fitting
  8. Process pipefitting
  9. Refractory
  10. Rigging and material handling
  11. Rotating equipment fitting
  12. Thermal insulation
  13. Welding

The number of Work Permit holders that you can hire is limited by quota (or dependency ratio ceiling) and subject to a levy.

Under the process sector quota, you can employ 7 Work Permit holders for every local employee who earns the Local Qualifying Salary.

In addition to quota, NTS and PRC workers are subject to man-year entitlement (MYE) requirements. They may qualify for a waiver if they have worked in Singapore for at least 2 years in any sector. MYE does not apply to Malaysian and NAS workers.

The levy rate is as follows:

Higher-skilled, on MYE$300$9.87
Basic-skilled, on MYE$450$14.80
Higher-skilled, on MYE waiver$600$19.73
Basic-skilled, on MYE waiver$750$24.66

Calculate your quota


  • The daily levy rate only applies to Work Permit holders who did not work for a full calendar month. The daily levy rate is calculated as follows: (Monthly levy rate x 12) / 365 = rounding up to the nearest cent.
  • If your Work Permit renewal involves changing between prior approval to MYE waiver, or vice versa, the change in levy rate will start on the 1st of the month following the expiry date of the permit.

You can:

  • Refer to the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) to determine the number of local employees who can be counted towards your Work Permit and S Pass quota entitlement.
  • Refer to the guidelines on calculating your quota and levy bill.
  • Learn about S Pass quota and levy rates.

In addition to the OPSOC, all workers employed to carry out the construction of the process plants must also attend the Construction Safety Orientation Course (CSOC).

When applying for Work Permits for workers from the respective source countries, you need to submit your applications in the following order:

Malaysian Worker

Get In-principle approval (IPA) for each worker.

Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan Workers

  1. Get In-principle approval for each worker.
  2. Buy security bonds.

NTS and PRC Worker – process construction

  1. Apply for man-year entitlement (MYE).
  2. Apply for prior approval (PA), unless the worker has 2 years of working experience in Singapore.
  3. Get In-principle approval for each worker.
  4. Buy security bonds.

Workers will be given a 1-year or 2-year Work Permit.

NTS and PRC Workers – process maintenance

  1. Apply for In-principal support (IPS).
  2. Get In-principle approval for each worker.
  3. Buy security bonds.

Workers will be given a 2-year Work Permit.

You must buy a security bond for each non-Malaysian foreign worker you employ. You can buy the bond at any bank or insurance company.

What is a security bond

A security bond is a binding pledge to pay the government if either you or your worker breaks the law or Work Permit conditions. The bond is in the form of a banker’s or insurer’s guarantee.

You must buy a $5,000 security bond for each non-Malaysian Work Permit holder you employ. You cannot ask your worker to pay for the bond.

When to buy the bond

Before your worker arrives in Singapore, you must:

  1. Buy a security bond.
  2. Get your insurer to send us the security bond details. It takes up to 3 working days.
  3. Ensure that the security bond takes effect when your worker arrives.
  4. Log in to WP Online to check the security bond status and print the security bond acknowledgement letter. Send your worker a copy of the letter.

If you do not complete the steps above, your workers will be refused entry into Singapore and you will have to pay to send them home immediately.

When will the bond be discharged

You will be discharged from the security bond liability for a worker only if you meet all of these conditions:

  • You have cancelled the Work Permit.
  • The worker has returned home.
  • You did not breach any of the conditions of the security bond.

If all conditions are met, the security bond will usually be discharged one week after the worker left Singapore.

You’ll be notified by post when the security bond is discharged.

When the bond will be forfeited

Your security bond may be forfeited if any of these happens:

  • You or your worker violates any of the conditions of the Work Permit or security bond.
  • You don’t pay your worker’s salary on time.
  • You fail to send your worker home when the Work Permit is expired, revoked or cancelled.
  • Your worker goes missing.

You will not be liable for your workers’ violations (such as those relating to pregnancy) if you can prove that you have:

  • Informed them of the Work Permit conditions they must comply with.
  • Reported a violation when you first become aware of it.

You need to buy a medical insurance plan for each foreign worker you employ. You also need to submit the insurance details online before the Work Permit can be issued.

What it should cover

As an employer, you must buy and maintain medical insurance coverage of at least $15,000 per year for each Work Permit holder.

The insurance should cover inpatient care and day surgery, including hospital bills for conditions that may not be work related.

You can have a co-pay arrangement with the Work Permit holder only if all of the following are met:

  • The medical treatment is not for work-related inpatient expenses.
  • The co-pay amount is reasonable and does not exceed 10% of the worker’s monthly salary.
  • The duration co-payment does not exceed 6 months.
  • The co-payment option is explicitly in the employment contract or collective agreement and has the worker’s full consent.
You cannot pass on the cost of purchasing the medical insurance to Work Permit holders.

Submit insurance details

You need to submit medical insurance details online before you request to issue or renew a Work Permit, and when the details change.

To update the information, log in to WP Online.

You need to keep the following information up to date:

  • Name of Insurer
  • Insurance policy number
  • Insurance policy commencement date
  • Insurance policy expiry date

You need to send your workers for a medical examination before their Work Permit is issued.

Clinics will likely resume medical examinations for pass issuance in Phase 2 (Safe Transition period). Workers will be given more time to complete their medical examinations. You can proceed to get Work Permits issued without your workers’ medical results.

Please do not make an appointment for card registration until your workers have completed their medical examinations. We will email you when to send them for their medical examinations closer to Phase 2.
In the meantime, we will automatically extend the expiry date of their notification letters to give them more time for the card registration. They can remain in Singapore with their notification letters. Workers who telecommute or work in permitted services approved by MTI may use the letters as proof of the validity of their passes.

Requirements for the check-up

You must send your workers for a medical examination by a Singapore-registered doctor within 2 weeks of their arrival in Singapore. Bring along the medical examination form when the worker goes for the tests.

The worker must pass the examination, and you need the completed medical form to get the Work Permit issued. Those who fail the examination will have to be sent home.

The medical examination screens the worker for 4 types of infectious diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and malaria) and checks if they are fit to work.

You can send your workers for more tests if you have specific concerns about their health.

You must pay your foreign worker the monthly salary that you declare to us. You need to pay the salary within 7 days of the end of the month.

As part of the Work Permit application, you must declare the fixed monthly salary that the Work Permit holder will be receiving.

When to pay

You must pay the salary that your worker is due each month, no later than 7 days after the last day of that month.

The salary period must not exceed 1 month.

How to pay

You can pay the salary either by cash or by crediting the wages directly into the worker’s bank account.

If you both agree that you should keep the bank account book, you need to allow the worker to check the book to make sure that payments are made regularly.

You must keep a record of the monthly salary and be able to produce this record if requested.

Salary adjustments

You should consider raising your worker’s salary periodically as a reward for good performance and loyalty in service.

Apart from monthly wages, you may also consider offering your worker a contract gratuity as an incentive.

You should negotiate the amount of gratuity with the worker. You can pay it at the end of an agreed period of employment, which should be before the Work Permit expires.

CPF is not required

You do not need to make Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for your foreign workers.

You will get an in-principle approval if your Work Permit application is approved.

What is in-principle approval

An in-principle approval (IPA) is one of the requirements for getting foreign workers to Singapore.

You will get an IPA letter when your Work Permit application is approved.

The validity of the IPA will be mentioned in the letter. This is the window you have to bring the foreign worker to Singapore.

To check the validity of an IPA, use Work Permit or IPA Validity Check via WP Online (Non-login).

Extend an IPA

Processing time: Immediate

You can extend the IPA for up to 1 month if you need more time. You are allowed to extend the IPA only once.

To extend an IPA, log in to WP Online to make the request at least 1 week before the IPA expires.

If approved, you can print the extended IPA online.