Foreigner nationals who plan to enter Malaysia for leisure, medical reasons, employment, religious purposes, mass media, business, investment, studies, permanent residency, etc. are required to apply for a visa from the Malaysian Immigration Department and the Malaysian Embassy or Consulate in their countries of current residence.
Most foreigners are not required a visa when the duration of the visit is less than a period of 1 month with the purpose of business or leisure. The Malaysian Immigration Department will check their passports and other travel documents upon arrival. It is also important for these foreign nationals to follow the conditions and laws governing foreign visits and immigration.
The Immigration Act of 1959/1963 is the main legislation in Malaysia handling immigration and foreign employment issues. Included in the legislation are admissions into and out of Malaysia, entry visas and permits, procedures upon arrival, in transit, removal from the country, and other offenses or special provisions for East Malaysia. Other rules and regulations are the Passport Act 1966 and the Immigration (Exemption) Order 1963.
Laws and statutes covering immigration are handled by a number of departments, namely:
• The Malaysia Ministry of Home Affairs, which enforces immigration laws
• The Immigration Department of Malaysia, or the Malaysia Ministry of Home Affairs. It functions to take out aliens who lie about their real intentions for entering the country, aliens with a criminal record, and aliens who cannot properly finance themselves.
Individuals classified under Section 8 of Immigration Act 1959/1963 are not allowed to enter Malaysia regardless of a valid passport, sufficient travel documents, adequate funds, and travel tickets.
Visa Immigration Services
Nationals of some countries are required by the Malaysian government to have visas at all times. Included in the list are citizens of Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Republic of Central Africa, Niger, Congo (Rep), Congo (Dem Rep), India, Liberia, Mali, Taiwan, Mozambique, Angola, China (PR), Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Western Sahara.
Visa relaxation for transit in less than 5 days may be granted to nationals of the countries above if they possess confirmed onward airline tickets to a third country before arrival via a Malaysian International Airport.
British Overseas Citizens are also required a visa. Foreigners who intend to stay longer need to write to the Immigration Department at the Malaysian High Commission in the country where they are applying. Nationals of Serbia, Montenegro, and Israel are restricted entry into Thailand unless in transit or staying within airport premises. Foreign women who are 6 months pregnant or more and suspicious individuals may also be denied entry.
Nationals of all ASEAN countries, except Myanmar, are not required a visa if staying for less than one (1) month. For stays exceeding one (1) month, a visa is required, except for Brunei and Singapore nationals. Israel nationals are required visas plus permission from the Ministry of Internal Security. Nationals of the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro are required visas and permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Types of Visas
Single Entry Visa
Foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia for social visits are issued Single Entry Visas. These are usually valid for a period of three (3) months since the date of issuance. Individuals can only enter the country once. Additional visits will require reapplication at the Malaysian Embassy or Consulate at the applicant’s country of residence. Extensions may be provided after reporting to the Immigration Department at the Malaysian High Commission in the country of application.
Foreigners entering Malaysia not only must obtain a visa but also a pass at the point of entry. This pass is an endorsement on the passport allowing the holder an approved stay in Malaysia.
This matter was discussed in a post in Malaysia Expat Forum last September 3, 2009:
As far as Immigration is concerned, you have the same foreigner status as any other foreigner, assuming that you’re a UK citizen with a UK passport. I’d suggest googling the website for Malaysia Immigration to inquire about changing your citizenship. One important piece, though, that I do know: Malaysia does not recognize dual citizenship, so if you did get approved for Malaysian citizenship, you would need to give up your UK citizenship – probably not a good deal for you, honestly… Many Malaysians would love to get out and get a citizenship from another country – I’ve never heard of anyone doing it the other way around.
Multiple Entry Visa
Foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia for business or government-to-government concerns are issued Multiple Entry Visas. These are usually valid anywhere from three (3) to twelve (12) months since the date of issuance. Those in group tours are not eligible to apply for this type of visa.
Citizens of China (PR) and India are eligible to apply for Multiple Entry Visas for the purpose of social visits. Cost is RM50.00 for Indian Citizens and RM30.00 for Chinese Citizens. Multiple Entry Visas are valid for one (1) year, with each entry lasting 30 days only. Extensions are not allowed. There are two conditions for this type of visa:
• The applicant must show proof of adequate funding for a Malaysian visit.
• The applicant must possess a valid and confirmed return ticket to the country of residence.
Foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia on transit to a third country are issued Transit Visas. However, the visa is not required for foreign nationals on transit who will not leave the airport premises and will proceed to their trip to the next destination with the same flight.
Foreign nationals need a valid passport or other travel documents recognized by the Malaysian government to properly carry out visa applications. Their passports need adequate pages for the embarkation stamp placed upon entering Malaysia. A passport validity of at least six (6) months at the date of entry is required. Travel documents need to be endorsed with a valid re-entry permit. Proof of adequate funds and the onward or return air or sea ticket are also needed.
Applications and queries should be addressed to the Malaysian High Commission. Application requirements include:
• Passport valid for a minimum of six (6) months
• 2 passport-size photos
• Fee (in cash or postal order only)
• 2 completed and signed application forms (£0.25 each)
• Proof of sufficient funds (including the original and photocopy of your latest bank statement)
• Onward or return air or sea travel ticket or itinerary from travel agent
• Yellow fever vaccination certificates (required from all foreign nationals of infected areas as indicated by the World Health Organization)
• Letter of introduction with a copy from the applicant’s employer, college, or university
An expat shared the costs of a social visa into Malaysia in Malaysia Expat Forum last June 24, 2009:
You get a 90 day social visit pass when you arrive in Malaysia – if you’re from the USA, you are visa exempt. After 90 days, you can just head across the border for the day and return for a fresh 90 day visa. You can do this indefinitely – I know many people who have lived in Malaysia for years this way, and I lived there for 2 years just making runs to Singapore every 3 months. Alternately, you can apply for an MM2H Social Visit Pass and Visa. There is a recent thread on this forum with a lot of information about this visa. Note that you do need to make a fairly sizeable investment in a Malaysian bank, amongst other things, to qualify. You can get an MM2H visa regardless of your age. For many people, though, just getting the social visit pass is quite adequate.
Rents are cheap. Even in KL, which is about the most expensive place to live in Malaysia, you can easily find a place for well under 1000 RM a month (about US$300). Look at the on-line listings for apartment rents in the Star and the New Straits Times. Outside of KL, you should be able to find some cheap digs for under 700 RM a month without any problem. However, you will need to commit to at least 6 months and, for most places, a year’s lease. Otherwise, you’ll probably be stuck staying at a hostel. Internet is widely available. I used IZZI, which uses a 4-G modem and has excellent coverage in KL. I think I was paying about 70 RM a month for it. You could also use internet cafes, which charge roughly 3 RM (US 90 cents) an hour. Very easy to obtain – bring your passport. No deposit required, though you need to sign up (and pay) for at least 6 months.
Most people end up living in either KL or Georgetown, though ex-pats are spread throughout the country. Kuching, on the island of Borneo, is another area with a growing ex-pat population. Ipoh, which is very cheap, has a small ex-pat population and it’s a nice place to live, about midway between Georgetown and KL.
Types of Permits
Employment Pass (EP)
This type of pass is issued to foreigners planning to work under contract for a minimum period of two (2) years and earning a monthly income of RM3,000 or more in Malaysia.
Visit Pass (Temporary Employment)
This pass is issued to foreigners planning to work for less than twenty-four (24) months in Malaysia.
Visit Pass (Professional)
This pass is issued to allow foreigners entering Malaysia to engage in short-term contracts with any agency. The validity varies but cannot exceed twelve (12) months at a time. The groups of foreigners eligible for application include:
• Members of religious groups or institutions
• Members of international organizations or agencies
• Filmmakers, producers, photographers, actors, directors, etc.
• Invited speakers, educators, and lecturers
• Equipment installation or maintenance experts
• Researchers recognized by the Government of Malaysia
This pass is issued to spouses and children of foreigners possessing an employment pass. The pass may be filed for application together with the employment pass application, or after approval of the employment pass. The maximum duration of the dependant pass should also be aligned with the duration of the employment pass (around 2 years).
This permit is issued to foreign spouses married to a Malaysian Citizen. The duration is between six (6) months and two (2) years.
This Pass is issued to foreigners enrolled as students in any recognized and approved educational institution in Malaysia.
This pass is issued to foreigners entering Malaysia to undergo training for a period lasting no more than twelve (12) months.
Malaysia My Second Home
This program is promoted to foreigners that meet a particular set of criteria, often for a period of ten years and renewable. This allows foreigners to bring their spouse, parents and children.
This permit is issued to foreigners looking for a long term social visit in Malaysia. Duration of stay is anywhere between 5 and 10 years with a multiple entry visa. However, foreigners are not allowed to work in the country.
All professional employment permits and passes should be applied for and related to local legal entities in Malaysia. These include:
• Private limited company
• Representative office
• Regional office
Private Limited Company
The company is required to have at least two resident directors with a completely paid minimum capital of RM250,000. Additional requirements may be given such as specific licenses, additional fully paid capital, and a minimum Malaysian or Bumiputera equity depending on the number of employment passes needed and the activities of the company.
The Representative Office is owned by a foreign company approved and recognized to gather relevant information on investment opportunities in Malaysia. Included areas and activities are the manufacturing sector, Malaysian products export promotion, product research and development, and bilateral trade relations.
The Regional Office is owned by a foreign corporation and functions as the coordination center for the corporation’s affiliates, agents, and subsidiaries in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific. The office is responsible for specifically assigned activities by the corporation in the region where it is located and currently operates.
All applications for passes, except for the purpose of business or social visits, should be made before arriving in Malaysia. Sponsorship in Malaysia is required for all applications, with the sponsors agreeing to be responsible for the maintenance and repatriation of visitors if needed.
Besides a visa (if required), foreign nationals need to obtain a pass or permit at the point of entry to be allowed to temporarily stay in Malaysia. The pass serves as an endorsement in the passport indicating permission to stay over an approved purpose and duration of time.