Work during study in Singapore
Updated on Sep 22, 2016 - 2:21 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti
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Work during study in Singapore: The reputation of Singapore as a center of academic excellence continues its upward trajectory. Today two of its top-ranked universities – the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) -- are on the verge of storming into the elite group of QS top-ten universities in the world; in the latest (QS 2016-17) list they are ranked 12th and 13th respectively. In addition, Singapore Management University also makes its presence this year and is ranked 431-440. However, it is not always the top universities that attract top talents to Singapore. The city is now on the radar of international students also because it is among the top ten in the QS best student cities in the world list. It currently occupies the 6th place, up nine places from 2015. And many of these international students who come to Singapore also come in the hope that they will be able to pursue work during study in Singapore, something we discuss in this article in detail.

Work during study in Singapore for international students: A pragmatic approach in a costly destination


If you did not know already, Singapore is among the most expensive study-abroad destinations in the world, fourth according to Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living Survey. So from a financial point of view, it is prudent not only to thoughtfully spend every penny, but also to seek opportunities to work during study in Singapore. Also, considering every country has its own specific rules regarding work during study, as an international student studying in Singapore, you need to be familiar with the ones specific to Singapore.


Get your student pass

The first step to being able to work during study in Singapore is to get your student pass, which is reserved for international students pursing full-time courses. The process to apply for a student pass may vary depending on the type of educational institution you are enrolled in.

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The different types of educational institutions in Singapore include:

  • Approved Private Education Organizations

  • Institutes of Technical Education

  • Polytechnics and Universities

Work during study in Singapore without a work pass

The Employment Pass (EP), a special type of work pass, is the most-popular route for eligible international candidates to pursue employment in Singapore. But considering the eligibility criteria for the EP which includes a minimum salary of $3,300 (set to increase to $3,600 or more from 1st January 2017), it is not meant for students. Instead, international students need to apply for work pass exemption to the immigration office for work during study in Singapore


Eligibility criteria for work pass exemption to work during study in Singapore:

To be considered for work permit exemption, you must:

  • Be enrolled in an institution approved by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore

  • Not be an exchange student pursuing study modules in Singapore

Some of the approved institutions include:

  • National University of Singapore (NUS)

  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

  • Singapore Management University

  • INSEAD, Singapore

  • SIM University

  • Temasek Polytechnic

  • United World College of South East Asia

  • The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Work during vacation

You are allowed to work without a work pass during vacation, provided you:

  • Are enrolled in a full-time program in one of the approved institutions

  • Own a Student Pass issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)

  • Are aged 14 years and above

Work during term

To be able to work during college term, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You need to be a full-time matriculated or registered student in any one of the approved institutions.

  • You must possess a Student Pass issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Apart from these rules, there are other guidelines you need to meet, like:

  • You can work for a maximum 16 hours per week

  • The establishment you are working must come under your university or educational institution. Additionally, the stint either compulsory or elective must contribute towards the degree you are pursuing.

Work Pass Exempt Activities

There are certain short-time activities in Singapore that you can perform without a work visa. These include attending seminars, participating in sports or even engaging in journalism. However, you must notify the MOM that you plan to work in a work pass exempt activity.

When to notify:

  • You can notify once you have arrived in Singapore and obtained a Short Term Visit Pass at immigration, or

  • Before you start the activity

The notification process can be completed by submitting an e-notification. But before submitting the application, go through the application process and guidelines carefully.

Duration: You are allowed to pursue Work Pass Exempt Activities for:

  • The duration of the Short Term Visit Pass or 60 days, whichever is shorter

  • A cumulative total of 90 days in a calendar year. If you contemplate to work during study in Singapore beyond the stipulated 90 days, you must however apply for a work pass.

What initiatives top universities are taking to encourage work during study in Singapore?

Universities like National University of Singapore have launched the NUS Student Work Scheme (NSWS) to encourage international students to take up on-campus employment, which in addition to helping these students earn money, also help them to gain useful work experience. National Technological University (NTU), in fact, has a dedicated online job portal, where international students can check out full-time, part-time and vacation job-opportunities. All these bode well for international students studying in Singapore while they simultaneously seek work during study in Singapore.


Also read:

Study in Singapore: Know all about studying in Singapore

Study in Singapore: Know all about best universities

Study in Singapore-Admission Cycle


 Stay tuned to for more stories on Singapore

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