Hiring foreigners in Malaysia, the country allows expatriates from various countries to work and live here. From general workers to highly skilled professionals, companies here may employ foreigners to fulfil the positions required but are subjected to certain requirements by Malaysia’s immigration law.

Moreover, beyond our neighbouring country, Singapore, Malaysia emerges as a hotspot for global job seekers due to its steadily growing economy, rendering it a viable destination for both work and living. Amidst a myriad of local and foreign-owned companies, Malaysia boasts plentiful employment opportunities accessible not only to locals but also to talented and skilled foreigners. Particularly prominent in major urban areas, these job prospects arise from an escalating demand for highly skilled individuals to occupy diverse positions across multiple industries.

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

Recruitment terms and conditions to hire foreign workers in Malaysia

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

  1. The foreign workers are only allowed to work within these sectors:
    • Manufacturing
    • Construction
    • Plantation
    • Agriculture
    • Services
  2. Employers must first obtain the quota to hire foreign workers from the Ministry of Home Affairs, One Stop Centre (OSC)
  3. Foreign workers must be the age of at least 18 years old or above but below 45 years old at the time the application is made
  4. May retrieve the certified PASS for Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) at the source country based on this list
  5. The foreign workers must be deemed fit and healthy as approved by the medical centre in the source country based on this list
  6. The foreign workers must not be one of those listed foreign individuals who are prohibited from entering Malaysia under Section 8 (3) of the 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:

  1. Employment Pass
  2. Temporary employment pass
  3. Professional visit pass

Before potential foreign workers can commence employment in Malaysia, relevant government agencies rigorously review their applications. Additionally, employers must adhere to government-imposed rules and regulations when hiring these foreign workers.

Employment Pass

Typically, Malaysian-registered companies offer the Employment Pass to foreign workers who have received a contract offer. This visa caters to foreign expatriates who possess specific skills typically required for technical and managerial positions.

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

  1. The salary eligible for the pass holder is MYR 10,000 or above with a contract of more than 60 months (5 years). They are allowed to bring dependants and are allowed to hire foreign domestic helpers – which is subject to approval. This pass is renewable
  2. The salary eligible for pass holders 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
  3. Salary eligible for pass holders is at least MYR 3,000 but not more than MYR 5,000 with an employment contract of at least 12 months (1 year). This pass is only renewable for at least two (2) more times. However, Malaysian regulations do not permit them to bring in dependents or employ foreign domestic helpers.

Temporary Employment Pass

Typically, Malaysian registered companies utilize the Temporary Employment Pass, also known as the Visitor Pass, for semi-skilled foreign workers in specific sectors. Its validity extends up to 12 months (1 year), and employers can apply for yearly extensions for up to 10 years.

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

  1. Sectors allowed – construction, plantation, agriculture, manufacturing, and services
  2. Foreign domestic helpers

Professional Visit Pass

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

Business Visas

Malaysia does not practice 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 qualifications suitable for the position offered
  • Have at least three (3) consecutive years of relevant work experience for the position offered
  • Must work in a managerial, executive or technical position which requires specific skills
  • Must meet the salary requirements as mentioned earlier

The one responsible for applying for this pass is the employing Company. They are responsible for doing 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 the relevant authority
  • Employment contract (must highlight the position, salary offered, employment duration and job scope)
  • CV and education certificate (preferably certified by notary republic)
  • Employing the Company’s latest profile (business plan and Company profile – can be retrieved from Company Secretary)

Requirements to apply for Temporary Employment Pass

The candidate eligible for this type of pass:

  1. Must work in one of the following sectors:
    • Construction
    • Plantation
    • Agriculture
    • Services
    • Manufacturing
  2. Must be from the following countries:
    • Bangladesh – only allowed to work in the plantation sector via government agreements
    • Cambodia
    • India – not allowed to work in the manufacturing sector
    • Indonesia – Male citizens have permission only to work in manufacturing sectors whilst females don’t have permission to work in all sectors
    • Kazakhstan
    • Laos
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Pakistan
    • Philippines – Female citizens are not allowed to work in any sectors
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Turkmenistan
    • Uzbekistan
    • Vietnam
  3. Must be at least 18 years old but below 45 years old during the application time
  4. Is deemed fit and healthy to work by the approved medical centre
  5. An employer has obtained a foreign worker quota from the Ministry of Home Affairs
  6. 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 the Immigration Department of Malaysia
  • Must submit the VDR application form (using the e-service on the Immigration Department’s official website)
  • Letter of quota approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs
  • 12 and IM.38 visa application form (you can find on 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 the applicant
  • Medical certificate issued by the approved health centre from the applicant’s home country (valid for 3 months)
  • Foreign Worker Compensation Scheme (insurance)
  • An insurance policy of the Health Insurance Protection Scheme Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) (health insurance)

Upon receiving the approval letter, the foreign worker can proceed to apply for the visa with reference (VDR) from the Malaysian embassy if necessary. Afterwards, they must collect the Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) in their home country.

Requirements to apply for Professional Visit Pass

The candidate eligible for this type of pass:

  1. Foreign artist (filming and performance)
  2. Islamic missionary
  3. Another religious workers such as Gurukkal, Granthi, Priest etc.
  4. International students attending religious courses studies with Malaysia Bible Seminary
  5. Government officials travelling for official purpose
  6. Jockey expert
  7. Volunteer
  8. International student in mobility program or industrial training

The employing Company can proceed with the application process by submitting the following documents:

  1. Passport copy (preferably certified by notary republic)
  2. 12 and IM.38 visa application form ( you can find it on the official website)
  3. Letter of offer from a Malaysian registered Company
  4. Employing the Company’s latest profile (business plan and Company profile – can retrieve from the Company Secretary)
  5. Academic certificates
  6. Letter of approval from the Department of Religion and the Islamic Religious Department (if required)
  7. Bank guarantee (for China citizens)

Just like the application process for the Temporary Employment Pass, the foreign worker can apply for the visa with reference (VDR) from the Malaysian embassy if necessary. Upon arrival in Malaysia, the foreign worker must then proceed to visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia to obtain the professional visit pass sticker on their passport.

The timeframe to apply such passes for foreign workers

The Ministry of Home Affairs does not specify a specific timeframe for the application of work visas for foreign workers. Therefore duration may vary from 6 months to 12 months, depending on the completeness of documents provided by the employing Company.


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