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Malaysia allows expatriates from various countries to work and live here. From general workers to highly skilled professional, companies here may employ foreigners to fulfil the positions required, but is subjected to certain requirements with accordance to the Malaysia’s immigration law.

Besides our neighbouring country, Singapore, Malaysia is also seen as a hot spot for job seekers from all around the globe as the country’s economy is growing steadily and is seen as a viable destination to work and live.

Given the multitude of local and foreign owned companies here, there are abundance of employment opportunities in Malaysia which are not only limited to locals, but also for talented and skillful foreigners as well. These job opportunities are prevalent in major urban areas as there are increased demand for highly skilled individuals to fill up the various position in many industries.

The sponsor, employing Company are expected to abide by the rules and regulation posed by the government in order to employ foreign employees. They are to comply with the Malaysian laws in order to attain the proper visas and work permit before they work here.

Recruitment terms and conditions to employ foreign workers

There are several terms and conditions highlighted by the Ministry of Home Affairs – Immigration Department of Malaysia for employers to abide with:

  • The foreign workers are only allowed to work within these sectors:

    • Manufacturing
    • Construction
    • Plantation
    • Agriculture
    • Services
  • Employers must first obtain the quota to hire foreign workers from the Ministry of Home Affairs, One Stop Centre (OSC)

  • Foreign workers must be the age of at least 18 years old above but below 45 years old at the time of the application is made

  • May retrieve the certified PASS for Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) at source country based on this list

  • The foreign workers must be deemed fit and healthy as approved by the medical centre in the source country based on this list

  • The foreign workers must not be one of those listed foreign individuals who are prohibited from entering Malaysia under Section 8 (3) of Immigration Act 1959/1963

Types of work permits available in Malaysia

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued three (3) types of work permits available for employers to apply for their foreign workers:

  • Employment Pass
  • Temporary employment pass
  • Professional visit pass

In order for the potential foreign workers to start working in Malaysia, their application will be strictly reviewed by the relevant government agencies. The employer is also expected to abide by the rules and regulations imposed by the government by hiring these foreign workers.

Employment Pass

The Employment Pass is normally for foreign workers who are offered a contract with a Malaysian registered Company. It is for foreign expatriates with specific skills commonly used for the technical and managerial positions.

Within the employment pass program, there are three (3) categories:

  • Salary eligible for the pass holder is MYR 10,000 above with a contract of more than 60 months (5 years). They are allowed to bring dependants and is allowed to hire foreign domestic helper – which is subject to approval. This pass is renewable
  • Salary eligible for pass holder is MYR 5,000 and not more than MYR 10,000 with an employment contract of at least 24 months (2 years). This pass is renewable, and they’re allowed to also bring in dependants and hire foreign domestic holder
  • Salary eligible for pass holder is at least MYR 3,000 but not more than MYR 5,000 with an employment contract of at least 12 months (1 years). This pass is only renewable for at least two (2) more times. However, they are not allowed to bring in dependants or hire foreign domestic helper

Temporary Employment Pass

Temporary Employment Pass, also known as the Visitor Pass, is normally for Malaysian registered Companies who are in need of semi-skilled foreign workers in specific sectors. Its validity is up to 12 months (1 years) and the employers can apply for an extension on a yearly basis for up to 10 years.

There are two types of such passes and they are only applicable to selected industries:

  • Sectors allowed – construction, plantation, agriculture, manufacturing, and services
  • Foreign domestic helpers

Professional Visit Pass

This pass is only eligible for those foreign expatriates with necessary qualifications and skills to work in Malaysia on a temporary basis of 12 months (1 years). They are to provide their services in a Malaysian registered Company on behalf of an overseas Company and is not allowed to apply for dependant’s pass.

Business Visas

Malaysia does not practise the issuance of business visas which is common in countries like Singapore, where businessmen can travel back and forth a country without obtaining visas from their home country.

Malaysia Corporate Secretary Liyana

Requirements to apply for an Employment Pass

The candidate eligible for this type of pass:

  • Have proper academic qualification suitable for the position offered

  • Have at least three (3) consecutive years of worth relevant work experiences for the position offered

  • Must work in managerial, executive or technical position which requires specific skills

  • Must meet the salary requirements as mentioned earlier

The one responsible to apply for this pass is the employing Company. They are responsible to do so on behalf of the foreign candidate they wish to hire.

1. Company is to apply for an “expatriate post” at one of the following government agencies:

  • Multimedia Development Corporation – for jobs in the technology sector
  • Malaysia Industrial Development Authority – for the manufacturing and services sectors
  • Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation – for jobs in the biotechnology sector
  • Securities Commission – for the securities and futures market sectors
  • Expatriate Committee – for sectors that are not under the above

2. Once approved, then the hiring Company is able to proceed with the Employment Pass application to the Immigration Department of Malaysia. These documents are required:

  • Employment pass application form

  • Passport copy (preferably certified by notary republic)
  • Letter of approval from relevant authority
  • Employment contract (must clearly highlight the position, salary offered, employment duration and job scope)
  • CV and education certificate (preferably certified by notary republic)
  • Employing Company latest profile (business plan and Company profile – can be retrieve from Company Secretary)

Requirements to apply for Temporary Employment Pass

The candidate eligible for this type of pass:

  • Must work in one of the following sectors:

    • Construction
    • Plantation
    • Agriculture
    • Services
    • Manufacturing
  • Must be from the following countries:

    • Bangladesh – only allowed to work in plantation sector through via government agreements
    • Cambodia
    • India – not allowed to work in manufacturing sector
    • Indonesia – Male citizens allowed to only work in manufacturing sectors whilst females are allowed to work in all sectors
    • Kazakhstan
    • Laos
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Pakistan
    • Philippines – Female citizen are not allowed to work in any sectors
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Turkmenistan
    • Uzbekistan
    • Vietnam
  • Must be at least 18 years old but below 45 years old during the application time

  • Is deemed fit and healthy to work by the approved medical centre

  • Employer has obtained foreign worker quota from the Ministry of Home Affairs

  • Have undergone Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) verification

Once all the eligibility is checked, then the employing Company may proceed to put in the application:

  • Must apply visa approval letter from Immigration Department of Malaysia
  • Must submit VDR application form (using the e-service in Immigration Department official website)
  • Letter of quota approval from Ministry of Home Affairs
  • 12 and IM.38 visa application form (can be found in the official website as well)
  • Receipt of payment for levy
  • Security bond – insurance guarantees/bank guarantee
  • Passport copy (preferably certified by notary republic)
  • Passport sized photo of applicant
  • Medical certificate issued by the approved health centre from applicant home country (valid for 3 months)
  • Foreign Worker Compensation Scheme (insurance)
  • An insurance policy of Health Insurance Protection Scheme Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) (health insurance)

Upon receiving the approval letter, the foreign worker is able to apply the visa with reference (VDR) from Malaysia embassy (if needed). Then, they are to collect the Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) in their home country.

The temporary employment pass will be then issued once the foreign worker has passed the Foreign Worker Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (FOMEMA) medical examination in Malaysia within 30 days of arrival.

Requirements to apply for Professional Visit Pass

The candidate eligible for this type of pass:

  • Foreign artist (filming and performance)
  • Islamic missionary
  • Other religious worker such as Gurukkal, Granthi, Priest etc.
  • International students attending religious courses studies with Malaysia Bible Seminary
  • Government officials traveling for official purpose
  • Jockey expert
  • Volunteer
  • International student under mobility program or industrial training

The employing Company may proceed to put in the application with the following documents:

  • Passport copy (preferably certified by notary republic)
  • 12 and IM.38 visa application form (can be found in the official website)
  • Letter of offer from Malaysian registered Company
  • Employing Company latest profile (business plan and Company profile – can be retrieve from Company Secretary)
  • Academic certificates
  • Letter of approval from Department of Religion and Islamic Religious Department (if required)
  • Bank guarantee (for China citizens)

Similar to the application of the Temporary Employment Pass, the foreign worker is able to apply the visa with reference (VDR) from Malaysia embassy (if needed). Once arrived in Malaysia, the foreign worker is to visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia to receive the professional visit pass sticker on their passport.

The timeframe to apply such passes for foreign workers

There is no specific timeframe given by the Ministry of Home Affairs when it comes to application of work visa for foreign workers. It may take around 6 months to 12 months, depending on the completeness of documents furnished by the employing Company.

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