Malaysia at a Glance
Malaysia's Visa Requirements
There are different types of residence permits available to foreigners who wish to stay in Malaysia for a certain period of time. One of them is the short-term social visit pass.
Despite the name, this is not merely meant for touristic and social visits. It also covers brief business visits, journalists on short-term assignments, competing athletes, and other purposes, provided they have been approved by the Director General of Immigration.
A short-term social visit pass is handed out to the visiting foreigner upon arrival. The following documents need to be presented in person:
- a valid passport
- a return travel ticket
- a completed form IMM.55
- any supporting documents (if applicable)
Getting Ready for a Longer Visit
A long-term social visit pass may be granted to foreigners coming to stay in Malaysia for a minimum period of six months. While it isn’t a work permit in its own right, it doesn’t preclude the possibility of obtaining one once you are in the country.
A long-term social visit pass may be granted for an initial period of five years to spouses and children of Malaysian citizens, expats or non-Malaysian permanent residents. It is also available for a period of 10 years under the Malaysia my 2nd home program for wealthy overseas residents.
The supporting documents and forms required depend on the applicant’s personal circumstances, but they usually include a marriage certificate for spouses and birth certificate for children.
Do You Want to Work or Study?
The student pass applies to foreign students enrolled in a program of study in a public or private educational institution approved by the Ministry of Higher Education. The annual fee is 60 MYR, and the application must be made via the HE institution (i.e. the university in question).
The professional visit pass is issued to foreigners with relevant professional qualifications and/or specialist skills who wish to take up paid employment. The period of employment cannot exceed 12 months. The employment pass, on the other hand, is a pass which especially applies to expats. It is subject to approval by the Malaysian Expat Committee.
The last two passes serve as both residence permit and work permit simultaneously. Please see working in Malaysia for further information. All necessary application forms can be downloaded from the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
Settling in Malaysia
Foreign citizens who wish to stay in Malaysia for an unlimited period of time can apply for permanent resident status, which invests them with the same rights and duties as Malaysian citizens. Permanent resident status can be granted to the following persons:
- High net worth individuals, i.e. individual investors with a minimum of 2 USD million fixed deposit in Malaysia. After five years, spouses and children also become eligible. Applications must be made to the State Immigration Office.
- Experts, i.e. highly talented/skilled individuals with a recommendation by a relevant agency in Malaysia and a certificate of good conduct from their country of origin. Please apply to the Immigration Department Headquarters in Putrajaya.
- Professionals with outstanding skills, who — in addition to fulfilling the same requirements as experts — must have worked in Malaysia for at least three years. Applications are accepted by the State Immigration Office.
- Spouses of Malaysian citizens who have been married and lived in Malaysia for at least five years.
- Everyone else who qualifies under the point-based system: Points are given according to criteria such as age, academic/professional qualifications, language proficiency, period of stay, kinship ties, investment (especially if employment is provided for Malaysian people), and previous employment. The pass mark is 65 out of 120 points.
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