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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign workers must comply with Malaysian laws to attain proper visas and work permits. Malaysian companies are expected to sponsor employees and secure their working rights which may pose to be a problem for companies beginning to enter the Malaysian market.

An Employer of Record Solution can help eliminate the administrative burden, requiring just a 15 to 30 minute commitment from the company every month to gather payroll input.

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For an employer to sponsor an employee for work in Malaysia, there are a number of requirements that must be met. Employers should be aware of restrictions on hiring foreign employees, such as limiting hiring to manufacturing, construction, plantation, agricultural and services sectors. Employment of foreign workers are also subject to quota requirements from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The employee must hold a relevant work permit and visa to enter Malaysia.

Malaysia Work Permit Sponsorship Process:

1 Application for foreign worker quota approval

The employer must first obtain approval from the Local Centre of Approval at the Ministry of Home Affairs to hire foreign workers to work for Malaysian subsidiaries. Only companies operating in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, plantation and services industries may be approved to hire foreign workers. This application may be done through the Foreign Worker One-Stop Approval Centre.

Once the application has been submitted, an interview takes place with the employer or authorized representative from the Ministry for the company’s particular sector. If the application is successful, payment must be lodged within 48 hours from the time of approval, where a conditional letter of approval is provided to the employer to allow hiring of foreign workers.

Documents required by Employer:

  • Application form for foreign workers quota
  • Photo or brochure for company site
  • Original payment form
  • Receipt for levy
  • Additional documents required according to sector


  • RM410 – RM1,850 Depending on sector

2 Obtain approval of expatriate status

Not all foreign employees may be qualified to work in Malaysia. Employers should be aware that only certain positions are available for foreign workers, which are generally highly skilled technical or managerial positions that cannot be filled by Malaysian workers. These include:

  • Key Posts: Top managerial post for foreign companies operating in Malaysia.
  • Executive Posts: Professional or middle managerial positions.
  • Non-Executive Posts: Highly skilled, technical positions that require experience.

Once these expatriates have been identified to have satisfied the prerequisites, the following documents should be submitted by the employer to the Immigration Department of Malaysia (Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia):

Documents required by Employer:

  • Original Employment Contract stamped with a revenue stamp
  • Application form DP10 attached to the original Employment Contract
  • Undertaking Letter stating company will pay salaries and tax revenues according to contract
  • Any regulatory compliance documents or certificates
  • Expatriate income tax receipts

Approximately three months after the issuance of the employment pass, an inspection will be held with the sponsor to confirm the details of the arrangement with the expatriate. Expatriates with monthly wages of more than RM8000 are automatically approved.

Cost: From RM105

Time: 1 day

3 Application for the Employment Pass

Once the quota approval and expatriate check has been conducted, the employer may issue a limited supply of Employment Passes to foreign employees to fill key positions in their company. Employment Passes may come in different forms depending on nature and length of employment, however the application procedures are similar.

The employer submits an application to the Malaysia Immigration Department attached with a letter that justifies why the post may only be held by a foreigner and not a local, along with prerequisites, qualifications, and experience required for that position. The potential benefits to the company the foreign employee will bring to the company and economy is also attached.

Once this has been approved, the letter of approval is attached to the application for the Employment Pass.

Documents required by Employer:

  • Application form DP11
  • Particulars of applicant company
  • Details of employment structure
  • Copy of stamped employment contract
  • Job description for position
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Copy of necessary approval from Malaysian agencies depending on sector

Documents required by Employee:

  • Copy of each foreign employee’s passport
  • Resume and copy of academic qualifications of the foreigner
  • Three recent passport-sized photographs of employee
  • Copy of foreigner’s passport
  • Cover letter from employer confirming approval of post and employment

Cost: RM360 – RM1, 800 per year depending on sector

Time: 6 weeks

4 Application for Visa with Reference approval

Employers must apply for Visa with Reference (VDR) approval to the Immigration Department of Malasyia, which can be done at the Immigration Department counters or online via e-Services system. Once the employer has been approved, it is sent to the Malaysian consulate in the foreign worker’s home country which will be used in the visa application process of the employee.

Documents required from Employer:

  • Application letter
  • Form of certificate of visa applications by reference IM.12 and IM.38
  • Letter of approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Kementerian Dalam Negeri, KDN) confirming quota
  • Original receipts levy
  • Application form for VDR new foreign workers
  • Copy of foreign workers’ passport
  • Latest passport photo of the foreign workers
  • Stamped personal security bond, including deposits, insurance guarantee or bank guarantee
  • Medical report approved by Ministry of Health
  • Foreign Worker Compensation Scheme (Insurance)

Time: 1 – 2 months

5 Application for visa

The employee must now apply for a visa depending on the status of the work. Depending on the country of the employee and the type of position to be held, the employee must apply for a Visa Without Reference or a Visa with Reference. For the employee, an employment visa should be applied for with the Malaysian consulate or embassy in their home country.

Documents required by Employee:

  • Passport valid for six months
  • Completed visa application form IM.47
  • Two recent passport photos
  • Letter from Employer with company letterhead
  • Notarized Company Business Registration documents
  • Letter of Invitation from Malaysia from sponsor
  • Copy of medical report
  • Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) verification document
  • If requested: confirmed flight ticket, travelers checks, bank statements

Cost: RM500 – RM1, 600 depending on country

Time: 2 working days

6 Medical examination

The employee may be required to go through medical screening in their home country to perform a health check. This only applies to certain countries and for certain roles. The clinic or health center must be registered and approved by FOMEMA, which administers pre-screening medical health checks for foreign workers prior to their entry into Malaysia.

7 Arrival in Malaysia procedures

Once the employee has received approval for both the visa and work permit, they may travel to Malaysia only via airport as the port of entry. The employer is required to notify the nearest Director General office of the details regarding the employment of a foreign employee within fourteen days of commencement of employment of an expatriate.

Once these steps have been taken, the foreign employee may legally commence employment with the company.

The renewal of the work permit and annual medical check-up by FOMEMA, along with the fees levied, are payable by the employer to the Immigration Department for Foreign Workers.

Cost: RM595 – RM2, 035 depending on sector and nationality of employee.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

The Malaysia work permit process begins with the applicant providing the necessary documents which a local expert immigration team will check and then upload to begin the application process.

The DP11 will be submitted to the immigration department.

The approval of an employment pass under the ESD system takes approximately 30 working days from the date of submission.

The DP10 will be submitted for the endorsement process which takes approximately seven working days.

These processing periods are subject to change at the discretion of the immigration department.

Types of visas in Malaysia

Category Description of Visa
Single Entry Visa

This visa is issued to foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia for the purposes of a social visit, or for business purposes that require only one entry into the country. This visa therefore covers both the Tourist and Business Visa as they are functionally similar.

The Single Entry Visa must be used within 3 months of its issue, and allows periods of stay of up to 30 days, subject to the discretion of immigration officers at the port of entry.

Requirements for the Single Entry Visa:

– Completed visa form IM.47
– Valid passport or travel document
– 2 recent color ID photos
– Covering letter stating purpose of visit
– Return flight ticket confirmation
– Bank statement from the last three months
– A No Objection Letter from an employer if working

Processing time: 3 – 4 working days

Processing fee: RM 6 – 50 depending on country

Multiple Entry Visa

This visa is issued to foreign nationals who is planning on entering Malaysia for the purposes of business or government-to-government matters.

The Multiple Entry Visa is valid for a period of three to twelve months from the date of issue. This visa permits stays for up to 30 days, while extensions are not allowed. The Multiple Entry Visa is appropriate for Chinese and Indian nationals entering Malaysia for the purposes of a social visit as well.

Requirements for the Single Entry Visa:

– Completed visa form IM.47
– Valid passport or travel document
– 2 recent color ID photos
– Covering letter stating purpose of visit
– Return flight ticket confirmation
– Bank statement from the last three months
– A No Objection Letter from an employer if working

Processing time: 3 – 4 working days

Processing fee: RM 6 – 50 depending on country

Transit Visa

This is issued to foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia in order to transit to other countries. Those who are transiting to other destinations without leaving the port of entry are not required to obtain a transit visa.

The visa is valid for a maximum duration of 120 hours.



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