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If a foreigner wants to start working in Malaysia, they will have to obtain a Malaysian work visa. The first step in acquiring a Malaysian work visa is to find a Malaysian company and get hired there. Afterward, the employer is obligated to do most of the work and apply for a Malaysia work permit.

To start working in Malaysia, the authority bodies responsible for issuing work permits for foreign employees must endorse the application. Then, according to the applicant’s profession and the duration of work, different types of Malaysian work permits can be issued.

Who needs a Malaysian work visa?

As you might already know, a Malaysia work visa is a Malaysia Visa With Reference. The residents of the following countries are exempt from obtaining a Visa With Reference:

Antigua and BarbudaAustraliaBahamasBarbadosBelize
BotswanaBruneiCanadaCyprusDominica
FijiThe GambiaGrenadaGuinea RepublicGuyana
IrelandJamaicaKenyaKiribatiLesotho
LiechtensteinMalawiMaldivesMauritiusNamibia
NauruNetherlandsNew ZealandPapua New GuineaSaint Kitts and Nevis
Saint LuciaSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSeychelles
SingaporeSolomon IslandsSouth AfricaSwazilandSwitzerland
TanzaniaTongaTrinidad and TobagoTuvaluUnited Kingdom
VanuatuWestern SamoaZaireZambiaZimbabwe

Residents of other countries will have to apply for a Malaysian Visa With Reference at the nearest Malaysian Representative Office.

What are the Malaysia Work Permit Types?

As briefly mentioned, the Malaysian government issues different types of Malaysian work visas. Here is a list of these different work Passes:

The Employment Pass

Foreign nationals with highly skilled positions in Malaysian companies, such as technicians and managers, are able to get a Malaysia Employment Pass.

Expatriate Committee or a relevant regulatory agency must approve the employment conditions before the applicant can receive an Employment Pass in Malaysia.

Malaysian work permits can be issued for 1-5 years, depending on the specific case or work duration, and they are renewable every year.

The Temporary Employment Pass

The Malaysia Temporary Employment Pass is designed for employees who plan to stay in Malaysia for a duration of two years or less. This pass is divided into two categories below:

  • Foreign Worker Temporary Employment Pass. To get this pass, the foreign employee can only work in the following categories: Manufacturing, Construction, Plantation, Agriculture, and Services. In addition, only nationals can get this type of Pass whose countries are approved.
  • Foreign Domestic Helper (FDH) Temporary Employment Pass. This visa is only suitable for female workers from countries that are approved. In this case, the foreign employee would work in her employer’s home (like an au pair) only if the employer has young children or elderly parents who need to be taken care of.

The Professional Visit Pass

Foreign nationals who are employed by foreign companies in Malaysia and wish to work there temporarily (up to 12 months) are entitled to a Malaysia Professional Visit Pass.

What are the conditions of a Malaysia work visa?

Malaysian work visas have various conditions based on the type of work permit/pass the employees are eligible to receive:

  • Employees must possess the proper qualifications for the Employment Pass, such as educational and skill certificates for the post they are applying for. In addition, these employees must have relevant work experience. There should be a minimum monthly wage of RM3,000 per month and in certain categories, RM10,000 per month.
  • For the Temporary Employment Pass, employees must meet certain conditions related to their nationality and age. For instance, the employee’s age must be between 18 and 45, and they must be from certain approved countries. In the case of a Foreign Domestic Helper, the employee must be a woman aged between 21 and 45. To apply for the Temporary Employment Pass (TEP), there is no need for any specific qualifications to show that the employees are highly skilled.
  • For the Professional Visit Pass, employees are only allowed temporary employment in Malaysia, and they must be working for a non-Malaysian company. The following types of employment are eligible under this type of work permit: foreign artists, film workers, religious staff, government employees, students undergoing training, guest lecturers, and volunteers. In this case, employees need a sponsor instead of an employee in Malaysia.

How Can you Get a Malaysia work visa?

It is the employer’s obligation to apply for a Malaysia work permit for their employees. The Immigration Department of Malaysia is responsible for approving or rejecting these types of applications. Once the Immigration Department approves the application, employees who are from visa-required countries may travel to Malaysia or apply for a visa with reference.

Here are the steps of getting a Malaysia work visa in detail:

Applying for Expatriate Post or Quota Approval

Before the employer applies for the Employment Pass, the employer must visit the Expatriate Committee (EC) or any other relevant authority agency and apply for an Expatriate Post. The following agencies are approved by the Malaysian government to handle the approval of Expatriate Posts:

  • Manufacturing and Services: Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA)
  • Technology: Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC)
  • Finance, Insurance, and Banking: Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM)
  • Biotechnology: Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp – BC)
  • Securities and Futures market: Securities Commission (SC)
  • Other sectors: Expatriate Committee (EC)

To be hired with a Temporary Employment Pass, the employer has to apply for quota approval. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put the Local Centre of Approval responsible for issuing quota approvals.

The employer has to apply for the Malaysia work permit at the Immigration Department of Malaysia once they get approval from one of the agencies in charge of approving the expatriate post or quota.

Approval of Malaysia work permit

In order to travel to Malaysia, the Malaysian Immigration Department must approve the work permit application of the employees before their travel to the country. In case of approval, employees will receive visa approval letters, which is their green light to travel to Malaysia.

This is the part where the employees’ nationality can change the process. Nationals from the visa-required countries must apply for a Malaysian entry visa (visa with reference). Then, they need to submit their applications to the nearest Malaysian Representative Office, Embassy, or Consulate.

Applying for a Malaysian work visa (visa with reference)

As mentioned, for permission to enter the country, nationals of visa-required countries must visit a Malaysian Embassy or Consulate and apply for a Malaysia Visa With Reference. The Malaysian Visa with Reference applicant has to apply at an Embassy or Consulate after getting the visa approved by the Malaysia Immigration Department.

On the other hand, a Visa Without Reference is considered a tourist visa. Therefore, the Malaysian Embassy or Consulate does not need approval from the Immigration Department to issue these visas.

Nationals from visa-free countries can travel to Malaysia with their Visa Approval Letter.

Getting your work permit issued

After arrival in Malaysia, employees must go to the Malaysian Immigration Department, submit their passports, and pay the fee for the Pass. Immigration officers will process the applications and issue put stickers on passports to issue work Passes and also give employees work permit cards. Then, using a work pass and a work permit card, employees can start working.

What are the requirements for Malaysia work visas?

Depending on the type of Malaysian work pass you need, and there are different requirements. In the event a company incorporates in Malaysia, you will be required to obtain an employment pass. You will need an employment pass, documents to show work experience, and a diploma. According to the work category, your monthly salary starts at RM 3000.

Other common requirements include:

  • A passport with at least 18 more months until it expires.
  • You must be 27 years old or older except in the IT sector.
  • A completed application form attached to the original employment contract.
  • Two recent colored passport photos.
  • Copies of education certificates.
  • Past employment testimonials.
  • Letters from the employer confirming that they will pay salaries and tax revenues.
  • Proof that the company complies with all industry regulations.
  • Income tax receipts proving payment.
  • A letter detailing the type of work to be performed by the applicant in Malaysia.
  • Company’s employment letter.
  • Confirmed flight tickets.
  • Company’s invitation letter
  • Approval letter from immigration.
  • A document containing personal information like the birth certificate, place of birth, and other details.

Note: Keep in mind that the Malaysian embassy may ask for further documents.

How Much is a Malaysia Work Visa Fee?

You must pay a visa fee in your home country (as mentioned above) as well as a Malaysian Work Pass price if you want to work in Malaysia. The cost of a Malaysian work permit varies based on the length of the permit.

Malaysia Employment Pass (EP)EP FeeRM 200 per year
EP Processing FeeRM 125
Malaysia Professional Visit Pass (PVP)PVP Fee

RM 90 for every quarter

RM 360 for one year

Can I bring my family members on a Malaysian work visa?

The laws only allow an Employment Pass holder to bring their family to Malaysia. Here is a list of eligible family members who can come along with an Employment Pass holder:

  • The spouse
  • Dependent children under 21 years old

In addition, holders of the Employment Pass can bring into Malaysia the following relatives through the Long-Term Social Visit Pass:

  • Dependent children over 21 years of age (Children who are adopted or biological)
  • The spouse

Some family members of an Employment Pass holder can visit them through a Social Visit Pass. These family members are:

  • Parents
  • Common-Law Wife
  • Children over the age of 21
  • Stepchildren

If the spouse of an Employment Pass holder wants to work, they must apply for a work permit because their Dependent Pass won’t allow them to work in Malaysia.

How long is the processing time for a Malaysia work visa?

The Ministry of Home Affairs does not specify a timetable for the application of work visas for international workers. Based on the completeness of the documentation, it might take 6 to 12 months.

The Bottom Line…

Malaysia country issues Malaysia work permits to foreign nationals who wish to work in Malaysia. A Malaysia work visa does not suffice, and the employees must acquire a Malaysia work pass as well. These work passes and permits are divided into three types for different employees. There are some countries whose residents do not need to obtain work visas. There are also conditions to bring some family members, such as spouses and children, to Malaysia.

If you have any experience related to obtaining Malaysia work visas, please share it with us in the comment section.

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