Singapore Process Sector: Work Permit Requirements

A frame containing infographic of PCM Pte Ltd CoSingapore Process Sector: 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.

Types of business activities

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 at www.aspri.com.sg

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.).

Foreign worker eligibility

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:

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

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/region Type of worker Maximum period of employment
NTS, PRC Basic-skilled (R2) 14 years
NTS, PRC Higher-skilled (R1) 26 years
NAS, Malaysia All sectors No 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

Removal of Period of Employment (POE) requirement for Man-Year Entitlement (MYE)-waiver

In August 2021, the Government removed the minimum POE requirement of three years and two years for Construction and Process WPHs respectively, arriving from Non-Traditional Sources (NTS) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to qualify for the MYE-waiver. This measure was to help support the inflow and retention of workers and is due to expire in March 2022.

The Government has announced to make the removal of the minimum POE requirement permanent. This is also in line with the dismantling of the MYE framework from 1 Jan 2024.

Going forward, all incoming or renewal NTS and PRC WPHs will no longer need to meet the minimum POE requirement to qualify for the MYE-waiver.


  • Non-Traditional Sources refer to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • MYE is a Work Permit allocation system for workers in the Construction and Process sectors, and reflects the total number of NTS and PRC WPHs an employer is allowed to employ, based on the value of projects or contracts awarded by developers or owners.
  • Employers may hire Construction and Process sector WPHs from NTS and PRC without MYE, i.e. on MYE-waiver, if the workers have a minimum Period of Employment of three years and two years respectively.
  • Learn more about MYE


What are the upcoming changes to the foreign workforce policies for the process sector from 1 Jan 2024?

The following changes will be implemented in the process sector from 1 Jan 2024:

  • The Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) will be reduced from 1:7 (87.5%) to 1:5 (83.3%).
  • The Man-Year Entitlement (MYE) framework will be dismantled.
  • Levy rates for Work Permit holders will be revised as follows:
Source country / Tier Monthly Daily


NTS – Higher-skilled    $300 $9.87
NTS – Basic-skilled $650 $21.37
Malaysia, NAS, PRC – Higher-skilled $200 $6.58
Malaysia, NAS, PRC – Basic-skilled $450 $14.80

The MYE framework will be dismantled from 1 Jan 2024 onwards. This includes the phasing out of Prior Approval (PA) and In-Principle Support (IPS). From 1 Jan 2024, firms will no longer need to apply for MYE, IPS or PA before applying for a Work Permit for NTS or PRC workers.

According to MOM’s source, the revised steps for a Work Permit application will be updated closer to 2024.

Find out more about Industry Transformation Policies.

Quota and levy (Current)

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 full-time local employee.

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:

Tier Monthly Daily
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

You can:


  • 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.

Qualifying for higher-skilled worker levy

You can apply for the higher-skilled worker levy rate if your worker earns a fixed monthly salary of at least $1,200 (use WP Online to update the salary), and meets any of these requirements:

Requirements What is needed
Work experience Worked in Singapore for at least 2 years in any sector.
Academic qualifications Malaysia – Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). For diploma or higher qualifications, provide a transcript or letter from the institution stating the course duration.

North Asian sources (NAS) – High school certificates.

People’s Republic of China (PRC) – Diploma.

Skills Evaluation Test (SET)conducted by ITE SET Level 1 or National ITE Certificate (Nitec).
Trade test endorsed by these institutions 3G and above in welding.
Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) Completed any of these WSQ courses:

  • Composite Assessment for Generic Manufacturing (Process)
  • Perform Process Pipe Fitting Work
  • Perform Rotating Equipment Fitting Work
  • Perform Fitting Work in Workshop
  • Perform Metal Scaffolding Work
  • Perform Rigger and Signalman Tasks
  • Perform Blasting and Painting Work

Note: Existing higher-skilled workers must meet the minimum $1,200 fixed monthly salary requirement during their Work Permit renewals to maintain their skill status.

Settling-in Programme

Before their Work Permits can be issued, first time non-Malaysian Work Permit holders in the Process sector must attend the Settling-In Programme (SIP).

What is Settling-in Programme (SIP) for Work Permit holder?

The SIP is a 1-day orientation programme to educate foreign workers on Singapore’s social norms, their employment rights and responsibilities, Singapore laws and where and how to seek assistance.

Learn more about Settling-in Programme (SIP)


Required safety courses

All workers employed in Process sector must take the following safety courses before starting work.

Oil Petroleum Safety Orientation Course (OPSOC)

All workers employed in the process sector must attend the Oil Petroleum Safety Orientation Course (OPSOC).

Construction Safety Orientation Course (CSOC)

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).


Steps for a Work Permit application

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


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

Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan

  1. Get In-principle approval for each worker.
  2. Buy security bonds.
NTS and PRC – 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 – 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.

 Source of Information for all Work Passes & their related matters is from the Ministry Of Manpower, Singapore.

Please refer to MOM website at www.mom.gov.sg for more detailed information and up-to-date guidelines with regulations.


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