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Immigration Law in Malaysia for Foreign Investors and Expatriates

Malaysia, a country with a long history of accepting outsiders, is today home to more immigrants from more countries than any country in Asia except Singapore.

Excluding foreign workers engaged in low skill and manual jobs, an overseas citizen wishing to live and work in Malaysia can choose one of the following categories to apply:

Employment Pass

A foreign person wishing to be engaged in paid work in Malaysia must first obtain an employment pass. Sometimes called DP-10 and DP-11 or “Director’s Visa” (by self employed expats), the employment pass must be applied for by the employer company.

Not every company can be eligible to hire nor any job position be filled by an expatriate worker.

For a company to be eligible to hire an expatriate, it must fulfill certain conditions as regards its type of activity (mainly key target economic sectors) and amount of paid up capital (at least MYR500,000).

Before an employment pass is issued (DP-11), the job position must first be designated as capable of being filled by an expatriate (DP-10),

The application for issuance of DP-10 must be supported by a recommendation from one of the six governing bodies:

(1) Malaysia Industrial Development Authority (MIDA)- manufacturing & tourism
(2) Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) – Information Technology
(3) Public Service Department (PSD) – government jobs
(4) Central Bank (BNM) – banking and insurance
(5) Securities Commission (SC) – security and stock market
(6) Expatriate Committee – for all others

The employment pass is issued to the expat (with non-working dependant passes for spouse and children) for a period of 2 years and is normally renewable.

Residence Pass

This is special “employment pass” given for 10 years that allows the expatriate the freedom to switch employers and entitlement to a buy a tax free car. To qualify the person must have held an employment pass and paid taxes in Malaysia for 3 years or more and be “highly skilled” !

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)

Designed originally to attract well-heeled nomads and rich retirees, MM2H is now attracting its fair share of younger lifestyle investors into its business-type program.

The program requires a placing of a deposit of money long term in an account in Malaysia. The amount deposited depends on age (over 50s deposit MYR150,000 while under 50s deposit MYR300,000)

The visa is renewable 10-yearly and therefore operates much like a permanent residency except there is no minimum stay requirement.

While MM2H prohibits the visa holder from taking up paid employment (unless you are above 50 and work part time for only 20 hours a week), the program allows the running and active participation in a business owned by the visa holder. This has proven useful because technically Malaysia does not have any investor or business-based migration program.


Kerk Boon Leng