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Prior approval (PA) for process construction workers

If your company is in the process sector and wants to employ process construction workers from non-traditional source (NTS) countries and China, you will need to get prior approval (PA) before applying for their Work Permits.

What is prior approval

PA is an approval for companies to employ foreign workers from NTS countries and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Prior approval indicates the number of foreign workers the company is allowed to employ from these countries. It also determines the number of workers who can have their Work Permits renewed, or who can be transferred from another company in Singapore.

PAs are given based on:

  • The duration of the Work Permits applied for.
  • The number of full-time local workers employed by the company over the past 3 months as reflected in the company's CPF contribution statements.
  • The quota remaining.
  • The number of man-year entitlements (MYE) allocated.

Who should apply

You should apply for PA if you are submitting a new application, renewal, or change of employer for an NTS or PRC worker.

You need to get the PA before applying for individual Work Permits.

You do not need PA for NTS or PRC workers who have worked with any employer for a cumulative period of 2 or more years in the sector.


Before applying:

  • If you are the main contractor, you must have a valid MYE certificate.
  • If you are a sub-contractor, you must have MYE directly allocated from the main contractor.

Types of PAs

Depending on how you want to use the PA, you can get a new, transfer or renewal PA.

For NTS or PRC process construction workers:

Type Use of PA Validity
New For recruiting new NTS/PRC workers. 3 months
Renewal For renewal of NTS/PRC workers 3 months

How to apply

When: Before MYE expires

You need to apply for PA before your man-year entitlement expires.

You can apply using WP Online. The application will be processed within the next working day.

You can also apply by post by sending us the completed Application for Prior Approval (Process Industry) form and required documents:

It will take 14 working days to process this manual application. The outcome will be mailed to the company.

Appeal a rejected PA application

You can make an appeal if your application for prior approval was unsuccessful.

To appeal, write to the Work Pass Division and state the reasons for the appeal.

You need to submit the appeal within 1 month of the date of rejection and while your MYE is still valid.

Alternatively, if you can address the reasons for rejection, you can also re-submit the PA application using WP Online.

Cancel or withdraw a PA

To cancel or withdraw a PA:

  1. Submit the request in one of the following ways:
    • By email using your business email account.
    • By post using your company's letterhead.
  2. Include the following details:
    • Your name, designation and contact number.
    • Company name and registration number.
    • Why you want to cancel or withdraw the PA.

Note: Partial withdrawal of PA is not allowed.

Change the PA type

You can apply to change the PA type after approval.

You can apply in one of these ways:

  • Using WP Online. The application will be processed within the next working day.
  • By post to Construction and Process Section, Work Pass Division, Ministry of Manpower, 18 Havelock Road, Singapore 059764. It will take 14 working days to process.

Submit the following documents with your application:

  • A letter stating the type of conversion requested. The letter must be on the company's letterhead and signed by a managerial staff, director, partner or sole-proprietor of the company.
  • A support letter issued by main contractor confirming the change of PA type.

Before you apply, check that the PA meets the minimum validity period:

Mode of request Minimum validity period
WP Online 7 days
Post 21 days


  • The original validity date of the PA remains the same. You cannot request to extend the PA expiry date.
  • The number of man-years applied remains the same.
  • You cannot request to change the PA type if the man-year entitlement has expired.
  • You cannot request for a partial change of PA type.