Visas for Malaysia

Most expats entering Malaysia, whether for business or holiday, will need to obtain a visa, although nationals of some countries can enter visa-free.

Those wanting to live and work in Malaysia for an extended period will need to obtain a residence visa or work permit prior to their arrival. 

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There are three different types of entry visas for Malaysia, namely single-entry, multiple-entry and transit. Nationals of some countries are able to obtain a visa on arrival, valid for one visit of up to 30 days. Expats who don’t qualify for a visa on arrival will need to apply for a visa at their local Malaysian embassy or consulate before departure.

A single-entry visa is valid for one entry of up to 30 days within three months of the date of issue. Multiple-entry visas are issued to foreign visitors intending to travel in and out of Malaysia a number of times, and are usually for business or official government matters. Multiple-entry visas are usually valid for three to 12 months from the date of issue. Each entry into Malaysia is for a maximum of 30 days.

Select nationalities can apply for an eVisa online, while others will have to apply through their local embassy or consulate. The eVisa is valid for 90 days from the date of issue and grants multiple entries of up to 30 days total during this period. 

Expats wishing to work and live in Malaysia permanently can apply for residency in Malaysia if they fit into certain categories, such as being a high-net-worth investor, possessing exceptional skills, being married to a Malaysian, or qualifying under a points-based system. Points are allocated according to age, qualifications and language proficiency.


Malaysia My Second Home Programme

The Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) was introduced by the Malaysian government as a means of allowing foreign nationals to retire or live in Malaysia with their family/dependants on a long-term basis. The programme requires that expats pay a fixed deposit into a local Malaysian bank; the funds must be left in the bank during the period of validity of the visa.

Successful applicants will get a 10-year visit pass and multiple-entry visa, renewable every 10 years. Expats generally aren’t allowed to be employed under this programme.

Expats wanting to work in Malaysia will need to obtain a work permit, which is often a lengthy and complicated process. Luckily, the burden of applying for a work permit largely falls on the employer rather than the expat.

There are restrictions on the number of foreign workers a Malaysian company can employ. If wanting to hire foreign workers, the company will have to prove to the government that the position is of vital importance and cannot be filled by a local.

The approval of the employment will be granted by different regulatory agencies in conjunction with the Immigration Department, depending on the industry and nature of work the foreigner will be undertaking. Once approval has been granted, the company can then begin the application process for the work permit on behalf of the expat.