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Services Sector

The employer is responsible for applying on behalf of the foreigner to obtain a Work Permit. Work Permit is issued to those who are able to meet specific conditions and requirements as applicable to their sector. Employers are also required to meet certain sector-specific conditions before a Work Permit is issued to the person on whose behalf they apply.

Approved Source Countries/Territories

Foreigners from the following countries are approved for issue of Work Pass in the services sector – Malaysia, People’s Republic of China (PRC), and North Asian Sources (NAS): Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan.

Quota Restrictions on Employing Foreigners (Dependency Ceiling /Quota)

Employers in the services sector who wish to employ foreigners must restrict it to a maximum of 25% for skilled workforce and 40% overall. The limit for workers from PRC is 8% of the total foreigners employed by the company/establishment.

Activities Covered Under Services Sector

Types of activities for which an employer can apply for Work Permit under services Sector include –

  • Financial, insurance, real estate and business services
  • Transport, storage and communications services
  • Commerce (retail and wholesale trade)
  • Community, social and personal services (excluding domestic workers)
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, food courts and other approved food establishments
  • Dispatch and delivery services
  • Hairdressing and beauty shops


  • Foreign workers are not allowed to be employed in food stall or hawker stalls.
  • Only food shop establishments who have NEA (National Environmental Agency) licenses are allowed to employ foreigners.
  • Employers are allowed to multi-task their foreign employees under the Job Flexibility Scheme.(Example: A foreigner appointed in food & beverage section can be entrusted with front desk management).

Foreign Worker Levy

In addition to restricting the number of foreigners that services companies can employ, they are also required to pay Foreign Worker Levy (Levy) on each worker they employ. The amount of Levy payable is arrived at after taking into consideration the worker’s qualification and ceiling/quota as applicable to the services sector.

In some situations employers are required to provide a Levy Bond as provided by the Ministry of Manpower.

  • Employers whose workers’ Work Permits are cancelled for non-payment of levy;
  • Employers who have been late in paying levies payments for at least three times within a 12-month period;
  • Change of ownership in an existing Sole-Proprietorship

Steps to be taken before Applying for Work Permit

Before employers who apply for Work Permits on behalf of foreigners from People’s Republic of China and North Asian Sources (NAS): Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan must make the following applications and get approval before the actual submission of applications for Work Permit:

  • Man-Year Entitlement (MYE) to establish eligibility
  • Prior Approval (PA) as required
  • In-Principle Approval (IPA) for each Work Permit
  • Purchase Security Bonds

MYE and PA are not required if the Work Permit is applied on behalf of foreigners from – Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. An In-Principle Approval is sufficient for nationals from these countries.

Important note for employers:

Employers are not allowed to bring in non-Malaysian foreigners into Singapore before they apply for the Work Permit

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India – 600 093