|Malaysia Working Visa|
This summary is designed to provide basic information about the visa and work permit application process in Malaysia. Please remember that, as with any country, Malaysia's immigration laws may change without notice. The information in this report is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice.
Business Visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:
Type of Visa
The Malaysian Immigration Department (MID) no longer issues business visas. Certain business activities, typically limited to the above allowable activities, may be conducted on a Social Visit Pass (SVP).
Visa waiver nationals are eligible to enter Malaysia without an entry visa and obtain an SVP on arrival. Visa nationals must obtain an entry visa at a Malaysian Embassy or Consulate. Upon arrival, they will be granted a SVP.
Foreign nationals traveling to Malaysia for business should nominate "business" as their reason for travel on their disembarkation cards provided at the time of entry.
The following general requirements for Business Visitors are subject to change by immigration authorities:
Commonly Required Documents and Processing Time
Generally, a SVP is automatically issued to all foreigners, including Business Visitors, who enter Malaysia with proper travel documents, namely, a valid passport and a confirmed travel itinerary. The SVP is processed and issued on arrival.
Please note that the Malaysian Immigration Department reserves the right to request additional information and/or documents.
Maximum Period of Stay
The period of validity of the SVP depends on the nationality of the individual. In most cases, it is from 30 to 90 days. The Malaysian Immigration Department can also exercise discretion in determining the length of stay for any visitor.
An SVP may be extended in-country, prior to the expiration of the initial visa. An extension is discretionary and SVP holders are generally not allowed to remain in Malaysia beyond the validity of their SVP, except where there are special circumstances making it impossible or difficult to return to their home country (e.g. the SVP holder falls ill or war breaks out in their home country). Evidence of such special circumstances and a confirmed outbound ticket are usually required to support an application for extension of a SVP. However, even if such circumstances are evidenced, the MID has discretion over the approval of the extension.
There is no maximum annual period of stay in Malaysia on SVP status. Limits are set per visit only.
Short-Term, Technical Activities
Business Visitor status is not appropriate for visits to install or repair machinery, computer software or equipment or perform other technical duties at either an affiliated company or a client site, no matter how brief.
The appropriate visa for these activities is a Professional Visit Pass.
Post-Arrival and Departure Requirements
There are no post-arrival and departure requirements for Business Visitors.
Following is a summary of the types of work permits/visas for Malaysia, the steps involved in obtaining employment authorization, and other relevant information for employees going to Malaysia on a work assignment. Unless otherwise indicated, the work pass process details provided below are based on the common scenario of an Intra-Company Transfer. Other scenarios and work pass categories and processes should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis .
"Regularization" from Visitor to Work Status
Depending on the type of work pass applied for, a foreign national employee may convert from Visitor status to Work status while remaining in Malaysia.
Professional Visit Pass applicants must remain outside Malaysia until the PVP application has been approved. In-country conversion is not an option.
In general, Employment Pass and Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) applicants can be in Malaysia when the application is submitted to MID. While they can remain in Malaysia on SVP status, they may not commence their assignments until they have obtained the relevant work pass. They may leave and re-enter Malaysia on SVP status while the work pass application is pending, and will not require any specific travel authorization to depart during this time.
Nationals of China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, North Korea and Vietnam who are Employment Pass and Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) applicants must remain outside Malaysia until their work pass is approved.
In all cases, the endorsement of the work pass onto the passport is obtained in-country and will supersede the SVP.
Types of Work Permits/Visas
The major work pass categories are:
The Professional Visit Pass (PVP) is suitable for assignments of up to 12 months for technical roles. Assignments to install or repair machinery, computer software or equipment or perform other technical duties, no matter how brief, would qualify for a PVP. The assignee must remain employed and on the payroll of his/her home company throughout the PVP assignment to qualify for a PVP. A contract or agreement evidencing the relationship between the assignee's home company and the Malaysian host company will also be required as a registered Malaysian company must sponsor all PVP applications. A PVP application is submitted to the MID, and the Inland Revenue Board must be notified.
An Employment Pass is a long-term work permit for assignments of 2 years or longer. An Employment Pass can be valid for a period of up to 5 years, in accordance with the employment contract and subject to the discretion of the MID. A duly registered Malaysian company must sponsor the Employment Pass application.
A Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) (VPTE) is suitable for assignments of less than 2 years. The duration of the VPTE will be in accordance with the period of assignment under the employment contract. A duly registered Malaysian company must sponsor the VPTE application.
In general, a foreign national ("the employee") assigned to work in another country must evidence a degree of proprietary knowledge, specialized skills, or managerial/executive-level skills that are not readily available in the destination country's domestic labor market.
Employment of foreign nationals in Malaysia requires that the appropriate work authorization be obtained. The type of application will be determined by:
Depending on the nature of the local company's activities, the applications for an Employment Pass or Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) are usually submitted to, and processed by, the MID. However, approval authorities may vary based on the specific industry of the sponsoring company.
As a rule, applications for an Employment Pass or VPTE are filed with the MID. For applications of companies engaged in certain sectors and industries, certain government agencies are authorized to receive Stage One of the applications for expedited processing. These agencies include: Bank Negara (Central Bank of Malaysia), for companies in the banking or insurance business; Security Commission, for companies in the securities and futures business; Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, for companies in the manufacturing sector, manufacturing related services, hotel and tourism sector, and research and development sector.
The application process with the MID is comprised of two stages:
Stage One involves securing MID approval of the specific position the foreign national will fill in the sponsoring company's organization chart. During this time the employee will remain in his/her home or current host location.
After the Malaysian company informs the employee that his/her proposed position has been approved by the MID, the next step will depend upon the employee's nationality.
Visa Waiver. For Visa Waiver nationals, an entry visa is not required. Upon arrival in Malaysia, the employee and his/her family will be granted an "on-arrival" Social Visit Pass.
Visa National. Nationals of certain countries are required to obtain a single-entry visa prior to entering Malaysia. The application for the single-entry visa may be made upon issuance of the Employment Pass Visa with Reference Letter by the MID.
Upon approval of the position and provided an entry visa has been obtained (if applicable), the employee and his/her family members will be issued a Social Visit Pass upon entry to Malaysia, and will proceed to complete Stage Two of the Employment Pass or Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) process.
Stage Two involves the application for the Employment Pass or VPTE and Dependent Passes as applicable. Until Stage Two is approved and the relevant EP or VPTE is endorsed on the employee's passport, the employee must strictly limit his/her activities to those of a SVP holder and may not commence work in the proposed capacity.
(Host Country) Corporate Documents Required
Employee and Family Documents Required
Please note that the Malaysian Immigration Department and/or Malaysian Consulates reserve the right to request additional information and/or documentation.
The normal time to assemble the corporate and employee's personal documentation is approximately 2 to 4 weeks, although this will vary based on individual company and employee response times.
The estimated time to conclude all immigration formalities is 6 to 8 weeks from the date of application for approval of the proposed position.
Work Permit Validity Period
The Employment Pass will be issued to match the term of the Employment Contract, for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum duration of up to 5 years.
The duration of the VPTE will be in accordance with the period of assignment under the employment contract, which must be less than 2 years.
An extension of both the Employment Pass and the VPTE is discretionary.
Applying for a Visa to Enter Malaysia
As stated above, the applicable visa procedure will depend upon the employee's nationality.
Visa Waiver. For visa waiver nationals, an entry visa is not required. Upon arrival in Malaysia, the employee and his/her family will be granted an "on-arrival" Social Visit Pass.
Visa National. Nationals of certain countries are required to obtain a single-entry visa prior to entering Malaysia. The application for the single-entry visa may be made upon issuance of the Employment Pass Visa with Reference Letter by the MID. It is best to contact the nearest Malaysian Embassy or Consulate to request a list of documents that the employee and family members will need to provide as part of the Employment Pass Visa application.
To locate the nearest Embassy or Consulate, please visit:
NOTE: Document requirements, procedures, and processing times may vary significantly across Consulates in different locations. Accordingly, it is best to check with the specific Consulate about documentation requirements for a particular visa type.
There are no in-country registration requirements.
Cancellation of Employment Pass or Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) and Dependant Passes must be initiated 1 to 2 weeks prior to the departure date from Malaysia.