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Malaysia Work Permit and Visa Application for Foreign Workers

For HR departments that are looking to obtain a Malaysia work permit and visa for employees on assignment, there are new rules that apply to foreign workers.  As always, work visas require a local entity for sponsorship, or use of an employer of record in Malaysia to do it for you.

Malaysia Work Permit and Immigration Requirements

Malaysian immigration posted new work visa requirements in June of 2016 that you should be aware of when submitting visa applications.  Some of these changes could add both time and expense to your employee assignments if not anticipated or followed.

  • No entry without work visa approval

One rule that will affect many assignees with an employment pass (EP) or professional visit pass (PVP) is the need to show immigration a copy of the approval letter upon arrival.  In other words, a foreign worker can no longer enter the country and begin work while their work visa application is being reviewed.

  • No in-country renewals

For renewals, there is the same rule, the work visa applicant will need to exit Malaysia and then re-enter when they have the new approval.  In-country conversion will no longer be possible, adding some expense to assignments.

  • Allowances no longer included to meet minimum salary levels

One of the more significant changes is how the minimum salary is calculated for work visa eligibility.  For both Category 1 and 2 employment passes, the MYR 5000 (US$1245) minimum salary can no longer include allowances.  Before, that was discretionary for the employer, so compensation and benefits will have to re-structured in some cases.

The same rule applies for the new Category 3 visa (MYR 2500-4999), which is available for assignments of up to 12 months. Further, Category 3 foreign workers are not allowed to bring their dependents to Malaysia.  If those workers are from certain countries subject to visa entry requirements, then they must also undergo a medical examination and apply for a ‘visa of reference’ (single entry visa).

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Malaysia Work Permit Processing Time

Because of the new rules, companies sending employees to Malaysia may experience delays in beginning an assignment, while the work visa is being approved.  There are many steps and required documents that must be approved, and the processing time can be as long as two months if you already have a local corporation set up.  If you want to see the multiple steps involved you can look at this overview. 

What this means is that HR departments will need to plan ahead for assignments to Malaysia, and likely seek assistance with this complex and involved process for obtaining timely work visa approvals.

Here’s everything you need to know about employing an overseas worker in Malaysia. 

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The information in this article is subject to changes in local legislation.

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