Moving to Malaysia

Moving to Malaysia is a very straightforward affair. Foreigners that have secured a job with a locally registered company can apply for an employment visa; foreigners that wish to relocate to the country without a local job, may apply for the Malaysia My Second Home program.

Find below information on employment pass application and on the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program.

Migrating to Malaysia

Employment visas

Foreigners working in Malaysia for a local company or a foreign company registered in the country must apply for an employment pass with the Immigration Department.

The first thing to note about applying for an employment pass is the eligibility requirement. Every company must fulfil the minimal paid up capital requirement:

Ownership
Minimum paid up capital required
100% MalaysianUS$58,000 (RM250,000)
Malaysian foreign joined ownershipUS$81,000 (RM350,000)
100% foreignUS$116,000 (RM500,000)
Majority foreign owned companies running Wholesale, Retail and Trade (WRT). US$231,000 (RM1,000,000)

Companies that are unable to meet the above are not allowed to register with the Expatriate Services Division (ESD), and thereafter apply for a visa directly with the government.

Furthermore, companies are also required to submit the number of employees they currently have and a projection on how many foreign employees they plan to hire that year. If necessary, the projection can be amended to reflect the need to hire more/less foreign workers.

There are three types of employment pass available for foreigners, each requires a minimum monthly salary as stated in the below table.

Type of visa
Employment Pass Category I (Expatriate)
Employment Pass Category II (Expatriate)
Employment Pass Category III (Knowledge/ Skilled worker)
Minimum monthly salaryUS$1,155 (RM5,000)US$1,155 (RM5,000)Between US$578 (RM2,500) to US$1,155 (RM4,999)
Employment contract durationA least 2 yearsLess than 2 yearsLess than 1 year
Dependents allowedYesYesNo
RenewableYesYesMaximum of 2 times

In addition to fulfilling the conditions for their visa category, all foreign employees must also meet one of the following academic requirements:

  • Degree and above, with at least 3 years of experience in the relevant field;
  • Diploma with at least 5 years of experience in the relevant field;
  • Technical Certificate or equivalent, with at least 7 years of experience.

Companies must submit all the necessary documents, such as academic degrees, proof of working experience and expected salary for review through the ESD’s website.

It is important to highlight that even if the candidate meets all of the requirements, approval is not guaranteed. All visa applications are subject to government assessment.

When the application is accepted, a visa is issued for a maximum of 60 months, depending on the employment contract with the company and the type of visa issued. Upon visa approval, dependent pass can also be secured for husband/wife and kids under 18, and social visit pass for parents/parents-in-law of the applicant of categories I and II.

Foreigners that have incorporated companies in the country are allowed to apply for employment pass under their own company’s name if they hold at least 30% of the company’s shares and if they are the registered director of the company or hold other key positions. In any case, the application will still need to be considered by the Ministry of Immigration.

Foreigners that have lived in Malaysia for 5 years with a valid visa, such as employment pass or a dependent pass, are eligible for Permanent Residency status. However, the application has to be sponsored by a Malaysian citizen.

Malaysia My Second Home

This the most popular program for foreigners that wish to have a Malaysian residency. It gives approved applicants a 10 years multi entry visa that enables them to reside in any part of the country without a local employment.

The program was first envisioned for foreigners that wished to retire in Malaysia, however, with later modifications, it is now also opened for foreigners that wish to immigrate to the country with their families, including parents and any unmarried children below the age of 21.

According to the Malaysian Government, the main nationalities that have benefited from the program so far are China, Japan, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Iran and Singapore.

Please note that the program does not lead to a Permanent Residency. Likewise with employment pass and dependent pass, participants may apply for Permanent Residency after 5 years.

Requirements
The MM2H program divides applicants into two groups: those age 50 and above and those age below 50. Each group is required to fulfil certain requirements before visa application regarding their liquid asset and their monthly income. Once the visa application is approved, applicants must also open a fixed deposit account with a bank in Malaysia to make a minimum deposit.

Time
Group
Requirements
Before visa applicationBelow 50Liquid assets above US$116,000 (RM500,000);
Monthly income above US$2,300 (RM10,000).
50 and aboveLiquid assets US$81,000 (RM350,000);
Monthly income above US$2,300 (RM10,000).
Upon visa approvalBelow 50Fixed deposit of US$70,000 (RM300,000)
50 and aboveFixed deposit of US$35,000 (RM150,000)

All of the above must be proved in the form of bank statements or other financial documents and payments slips or pension slips.

Participants are allowed to use the money deposited into the fixed deposit account for house purchase, medical insurance, children education and other expenses only after 1 year of the day of the deposit. Participants below 50 are allowed to withdraw up to US$35,000 (RM150,000) and must maintain a balance of US$35,000 (RM150,000) until the end of the program. Participants age 50 and above are allowed to withdraw up to US$12,000 (RM50,000) and must maintain a balance of US$25,000 (RM100,000). All withdrawals must be approved by the Malaysian Government.

Benefits

Benefits
Requirements
All foreign income derived from pension and dividends and remitted to Malaysia is exempt from income taxMust be remitted to Malaysia
Participants are taxed at a scale from 0% to 27% on their Malaysian income, as Malaysian nationalsParticipants must meet the residency requirements and be considered as tax residents.
Participants that wish to purchase property in Malaysia can apply for bank loans.The property must be worth the minimum value established by the State.
Participants that wish to import a car that had previously owned abroad will be exempt from paying import duty, exercise duty and sales tax; The exemption is limited to US$35,000 (RM150,000);

The participant must have owned the car 36 months before MM2H visa approval;

The approval must be requested within the first 2 years of visa confirmation;

The participants must have a permanent address in Malaysia.
Participants that wish to purchase a locally manufactured car will be exempt from exercise duty;The exemption is limited to US$35,000 (RM150,000);

The car purchase approval must be requested within the first two years of visa acceptance;

The participants must have a permanent address in Malaysia.
Participants are allowed to take one female maid from their country of origin to MalaysiaVisas are issued yearly and are subject to medical check-up.

As this is not an employment visa, participants of the MM2H program are not allowed to work full time in Malaysia, however the government allows those 50 and above to hold part-time jobs of up to 20 hours a week. If participants wish to get a full time job, they will be required to apply for a work permit.

Although all participants are allowed to open business in Malaysia, active participation in the running of the company must be limited, or a work pass may be required.

Migrating to Malaysia

Malaysia My Second Home Sarawak

Although most states follow the same requirements for the MM2H program, Sarawak has its own set of rules. Although some of the general rules are more restricted in Sarawak, such as the age of the applicant and who can act as sponsor, the financial requirements are significantly lower than the ones applicable for the MM2H program.

Find below a brief comparison table of the two:

MM2H
Sarawak MM2H
No age restrictionsApplicant must be at least 50 years old. Applicants over 30 years old are only eligible if they can provide evidence that they have a child pursuing further education or undergoing long term medical treatment in Sarawak.
Allows MM2H visa holders to reside anywhere in Malaysia except Sarawak Allows MM2H visa holders to reside anywhere in Malaysia
Applicants below 50 years old must show proof of liquid assets worth at least US$116,000 (RM500,000), offshore income of US$2,300 (RM10,000) a month and must maintain a fixed deposit account of US$70,000 (RM300,000).Applicants must show proof of monthly offshore income or pension of US$2,300 (RM10,000) for married couples and US$1,600 (RM7,000) for single applicants.
Applicants 50 and above must show proof of liquid assets worth US$81,000 (RM350,000), monthly offshore income or pension of US$2,300 (RM10,000), and fixed deposit account of US$35,000 (RM150,000). Applicants must show proof of monthly offshore income or pension of US$2,300 (RM10,000) for married couples and US$1,600 (RM7,000) for single applicants.

Applicants must open a fixed deposit account of US$35,000 (RM 150,000) for married couples or US$23,000 (RM100,000).
From the second year onwards, participants may withdraw part of the required fixed deposit for approved expenses.

Participants below 50 years old may withdraw US$35,000 (RM150,000) and must maintain a balance of US$35,000 (RM150,000) until the end of the program.

Participants 50 years old and above can withdraw US$12,000 (RM50,000) and must maintain a balance of US$25,000 (RM100,000) until the end of the program.
Participants that choose to open a fixed deposit account may withdraw up to US$21,000 (RM90,000) if they are a couple and US$9,000 (RM40,000) if single.

From second year onwards, participants must maintain a minimum fixed deposit of US$14,000 (RM60,000).

Application
The Malaysian government is setting up an online portal to allow online applications. In the meantime, all applications must be submitted to the Malaysia My Second Home Program Office, either directly or through an agent. The processing time is around 6 months from document submission.

We at Healy Consultants Group PLC can assist our Clients to i) assess their eligibility to the MM2H program ii) subscribe to a medical insurance iii) gather all the necessary supporting documents iv) prepare and submit a high quality MM2H application and v) choose the bank offering the best rates for a fixed term deposit. Please find out more about our services at our website or drop up an email

Image attribution: By TUBS [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons