Singapore is the gateway to South East Asia, and a powerhouse in its own right. The mix of vibrant culture, tasty cuisine, rich history and cutting edge modernity is unique, not just in Asia, but in the world. No wonder you want to spend time there to study and soak up the atmosphere.
If you’re planning on taking up a place at a school, university, or short term study course in Singapore, you need to check the visa and study permit requirements for your situation. That’s where this handy guide comes in. Read on for more on:
- The types of visa available
- Who needs a study permit for Singapore
- How to get your permit arranged - and some ideas of how to pay for your new life in Singapore
If you’re travelling to Singapore with an Australian passport, you won’t need a visa to enter the country - but you may need to apply for a pass to allow you to work or study while you’re there. For ease, you can do this before travelling to Singapore.
Here are some of the options:
- Work passes including the employment pass, entrepreneur pass, PEP or S pass. These are aimed at different professionals from technicians to senior managers
- Dependant’s pass - for families of work pass holders. You may be able to apply for a letter of consent to work while in the country on a dependant’s pass
- Student’s pass
- Work permit for basic level employees
- Training employment pass
- Working holiday pass
- Multi entry visa for people from countries where a Singapore visa is required
If you’re intending to stay in Singapore for study, you’ll need a student’s pass. More on that in a moment.
If you want to study in Singapore, you’ll have to meet a number of eligibility requirements. However, these are based around your acceptance to a suitable institution, and your ability to pay for life in Singapore, more than your nationality.
As we mentioned above, holders of an Australian passport don’t need a visa to enter Singapore. However, there are some entry requirements you need to be aware of:
- You’ll need a valid passport with at least 6 months validity left on it
- You may be asked to prove you can afford daily life while you’re in Singapore
- Depending on your plans, you might be asked to show your onward tickets and visas, to demonstrate you will be able to leave Singapore after your visit
- You’ll need a disembarkation/embarkation card which you’ll be given on the plane
- Depending on where you’re coming from, you may need a yellow fever certificate
To study in Singapore, you’ll also need a student’s pass. It’s easiest to apply for this before you travel, 1-2 months in advance of your course starting. However, you can also apply for the pass once you are in Singapore if you need to. There are slightly different requirements, depending on your age and the type of course you’re doing. The information here relates to someone attending university in Singapore.
You’ll need to submit the following:
- Details of your travel document
- Letter confirming your place at an approved education establishment
- Personal details, including your education to date, previous addresses, and how you’ll support yourself financially while in Singapore
- You may need to provide similar information about your parents, depending on your age
- Residential address and contact details for Singapore
- A recent passport photo
To apply for your study permit, you’ll need to gather the information and documents set out above. You will then be able to apply online via the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints authority website e-Service.
It’ll usually take around 5 days to get a decision on your application, and slightly longer if you’re coming from a country which requires a visa. It’s also good to note that the peak application time is July and August, and applications at this time may take longer to process.
You may be able to work under your visa conditions, depending on the university or school you’re attending.
For most study permit holders at an approved institution, you can work during vacation without needing a separate work pass. You may also be able to work during term time up to a maximum of 16 hours a week.
You may also be able to work for longer hours during term time, if it’s connected to your course, such as a work placement.
You will need to pay $30 when you apply for you student’s pass. This is in addition to any costs you might have incurred for an entry visa, or to receive or translate any of the documents required for your submission.
Singapore offers a fantastic quality of life, and is a perfect base to immerse yourself in the culture of the region. However, life isn’t cheap there. Even working part time during your studies, you’ll likely have to rely on help from family back home, or your own savings, unless you’re lucky enough to get a scholarship to cover some of your living costs.
This probably means that you’ll be making international transfers from your account in Australia, to pay for your tuition fees, rent and day to day expenses.
International payments can be expensive to arrange - especially through a traditional bank. Many customers are better off using a currency specialist like TransferWise to send money internationally. TransferWise offer international payments all over the world, which are processed using the mid-market exchange rate, and with a low transparent fee. That means that you get the exchange rate you’ll find on google, with no markup, which can work out much cheaper than using a bank.
Another handy tool for people who live, study, or work abroad, is to get a TransferWise borderless account. This is a modern type of account designed for international lifestyles, which lets customers keep their money in 40+ different currencies in one account, and switch between them easily. That means you can top up your balance using your Australian dollar account, then convert your money to Singapore dollars for your day to day needs while you study. Simple.
If you’re about to take up the opportunity to study abroad, you’ll have a lot to think about, and a lot to arrange. Getting your visa and your finances set up should be a high priority to allow you to plan your time, and focus on making the most of the experience.
All sources correct as of 23 January 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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