Foreigners who seeking to live and work in Malaysia have different options depending on their initial situation:
Option 1: An established company sponsors an Employment Pass
Option 2: Incorporate your own company and apply for an Employment Pass
Option 3: Entrepreneur/start-up visa for specific tech and IT sectors
Option 4: Premium visa for high-net-worth individuals
As a rule, foreign employees seeking to work in Malaysia are issued an Employment Pass. The pass is applied for the individual through the hiring employer and is combined with a Multiple-Entry Visa. Firstly, the company needs to be registered with ESD or MDEC before they can apply for an expatriate Employment Pass or other expatriate related permits. There are several agencies in Malaysia involved in regulating specific economic sectors, therefore they also regulate the companies in the sectors. These various agencies are responsible for approving and supporting expatriate posts in the relevant sectors.
Under the Employment Pass, a distinction must be made between three categories: Category I, Category II and Category III.
|Basic Monthly Salary per Month||Duration of Employment Contract||Allows dependents?|
|Category I||Expatriates||At least RM10,000||Up to five (5) years||Yes|
|Category II||Expatriates||Between RM5,000 and RM9,999||Up to two (2) years||Yes|
|Category III||Knowledge / Skilled Workers||Between RM3,000 and RM4,999||Must not exceed twelve (12) months||No|
The minimum requirements to apply for an expatriate(s)/knowledge/skilled worker(s) posts are as follows:
- BA degree (or equivalent) and above, with at least three (3) years’ experience in the relevant field; or
- Diploma, with at least five (5) years’ experience in the relevant field; or
- Technical Certificate or equivalent, with at least seven (7) years’ experience in the relevant field.
If the applicant is a shareholder in the respective company, he or she must have a minimum of 30% equity in the company and must be a Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM)-registered director of the company and/or hold a key position in the company.
The Employment Pass under the Category I/II allows the holder to be employed in West Malaysia by the hiring company. Legal spouse and children under eighteen (18) years old of an Employment Pass holder can hold Dependant Passes. Children over eighteen (18) years old, the partner (boyfriend/girlfriend) and parents/parents-in-law are eligible for Social Visit Pass (Long-Term) for up to twelve (12) months. Furthermore, Employment Pass holders are eligible to hire foreign maid(s) under Social Visit Pass (Temporary Employment). Spouses under Dependant Passes will not be able to work in Malaysia.
The Employment Pass under the Category III allows the holder to be employed in West Malaysia under the hiring company. In contrast to Category I and II, Employment Pass holders under Category III are not allowed to bring dependants and are not eligible to hire foreign maids. These expatriates may only work for the company named in the Employment Pass. If they change the company, they need to resubmit their application and the previous EP has to be cancelled.
FAQ - employment pass
|What is an Employment Pass (EP)?||An EP is a Work and Residence Permit which allows you to stay and work in Malaysia for up to 60 months. You can work only for the company laid out in the EP. The EP can be renewed.|
|Who needs an Employment Pass?||Everyone, who wants to work and will be employed in Malaysia and does not have a work permit, needs an EP.|
|Do I have to be an employee of a Malaysian company or I can be employed by a company in my home country?||You can be employed by a company in your own country as well. However, you will have to provide all your employment contracts /agreements to the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia prior to receiving a visa.|
|How long is the Employment Pass (EP) regularly valid for? Is there a maximum duration?||Contact our Immigration Experts for more information.|
|How long does it take to issue an Employment Pass?|
|What should I do if my employee has absconded?|
Entrepreneur/startup visa for specific tech and IT sectors
The Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP) is a special passport combining residence permit and work permit intended for tech startup entrepreneurs, experienced tech entrepreneurs and investors to work or invest in the tech industry in Malaysia. The program was launched by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Applicants must have entrepreneurial goals in Malaysia in the following sectors: AgriTech, HealthTech, FinTech, DroneTech, Smart City, CleanTech, Cyper Security, Smart Mobility, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics or Internet of Things.
Scope & extension
Malaysia offers a 1-year pass for new entrepreneurs (start-up) and a 5-year pass for established entrepreneurs or investors and their dependents. A 1-year pass is renewable upon proof of achievements. Dependents can only come to Malaysia in the case of 5-year passes. All passes come with multiple entry visa.
Requirements - start-up
Foreigners who do not have entrepreneurial experience and want to start a business in Malaysia, either by themselves or as co-founders, in one of the target sectors can apply for a Professional Visit Pass for 12 months. The requirements include having a business plan in place.
Requirements - entrepreneur
Experienced entrepreneurs who have more than 2 years of entrepreneurial experience under an existing company and want to start a business in Malaysia either by themselves or as co-founders in one of the target sectors can apply for a 5-year Residence Pass and bring dependents. The requirements include a business plan among others.
Requirements - investor
Founders, co-founders, capital management companies (VCMC) or partners of a Malaysian venture who invest a minimum capital of RM10 million in a company in one of the target sectors and register with the Securities Commission Malaysia as venture capital management can apply for a 5-year residency pass and bring dependents.
Premium Visa (PVIP) for high-net-worth individuals
The Premium Visa Program is a long-term residence permit for up to 20 years for high-income individuals who wish to study, live or work in Malaysia. It is issued with a multiple entry visa.
Wealthy foreigners with regular income can live, work, invest or study in Malaysia for up to 20 years without minimum residency requirements. Unlike MM2H, there is no age limit. PVIP holders can bring spouses, children, parents or foreign domestic workers.
Applicants must prove a minimum monthly income of RM40,000 or annual income of at least RM480,000. Other requirements include certificate of good conduct from the home country, valid health insurance for Malaysia, and a medical report from a private hospital or clinic in Malaysia. Unlike MM2H, no other liquid assets are required to be proven otherwise.
Once approved, RM 1,000,000 must be deposited in a Malaysian fixed deposit account, 50% of which can be withdrawn after one year, to purchase a property in Malaysia for example.
The PVIP can be renewed for a second term of 20 years.