This article is reviewed regularly by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate. 

Reviewed February 2024

Beyond its vibrant multicultural environment, rich heritage, and stunning landscapes, Malaysia also presents work opportunities for international workers, making it an appealing destination for expatriates seeking professional growth and a fulfilling lifestyle. If you aspire to live and work in Malaysia, it is important to understand the process of obtaining a Malaysia work visa and residency permit.

Wego has gathered all the essential information below to guide you through obtaining your Malaysia work visa.

Malaysia work visa 2024

A Malaysia work visa is a work permit that allows expatriates to engage in employment within the country. This visa category is specifically designed for individuals who have received a valid job offer from a Malaysian employer and meet the necessary requirements outlined by the Malaysian government.

Foreign workers can apply for various types of employment permits in Malaysia. The type of work permit granted by the government depends on the skill level of the foreign applicant and the available quota for that particular sector.

Book cheap flights to Malaysia

 

Employment pass

As stated by Minister of Economy, YB Tuan Rafizi Ramli, on 31 May 2023, the expatriates’ Employment Pass application process will be completed through an integrated Xpats Gateway system. This modernized system was officially introduced on 15 June 2023 to demonstrate the government’s dedication to digitalizing administrative processes without compromising Malaysia’s reputation as a business-friendly nation that fosters economic growth and investment targets.

This work permit enables foreign workers to work under a contract of service with an organization in Malaysia. This pass is issued to employees with specific skills, usually for technical or managerial jobs.

The employment pass is classified into three categories:

Category I

Applicants must receive a monthly base salary of MYR 10,000 (USD 2,410) or more and have an employment contract of up to 5 years. Applicants may bring eligible dependent and/or foreign domestic helpers, subject to approval, and the employment pass may be renewed.

Category II

Applicants must receive a monthly base salary above MYR 5,000 (USD1,200) and, under MYR 10,000 (USD 2,410), have an employment contract with a maximum validity period of 24 months. The employment pass may be renewed. Applicants can bring eligible dependent and/or foreign domestic helpers, subject to approval.

Category III

Employment pass category III is available to foreign nationals working on contracts of 12 months or less and with monthly salaries ranging from MYR 3,000 (USD 723) and under MYR 5,000 (USD1,200). The employment pass may be renewed up to two times. Applicants are not allowed to bring dependent and/or foreign domestic helpers.

Requirements

It is the responsibility of the employer to apply for an employment pass on behalf of the foreign employee. Once the expatriate post has been approved, the employer can submit the employment pass application to the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

The employer will need to submit the following documents to the Immigration Department;

  • recent passport photo
  • copy of the highest educational certificates
    • include a copy of the Professional certificate (if applicable)
  • latest comprehensive resume
  • supporting document from Approving Agency / Regulatory Body (if applicable)
  • tax payment receipts (if any)
  • account statement from Malaysia Inland Revenue Board (upon request)
  • the Employment Pass application form;
  • copy of passport (full booklet with cover);
  • letter of approval from the relevant authority body;
  • employment contract (duly stamped by Malaysia Inland Revenue Board);
  • education certificates;
  • detailed Job Description printed on the company’s letterhead; and
  • other documents specified upon request.

Temporary employment pass

Malaysian companies that need semi-skilled foreign workers in specific sectors can get a temporary employment pass, also called a visitor’s pass. This pass is valid for 12 months, and employers can apply for extensions every year for a maximum of 10 years.

There are two types of temporary employment passes in Malaysia:

  • for foreign workers in the construction, plantation, agriculture, manufacturing, and services; and
  • foreign domestic helpers.

Further, this work permit is open only to citizens from the approved countries, with some exceptions to keep in mind:

  • Bangladesh – Only allowed to work in the plantation sector through government-to-government agreements;
  • Cambodia;
  • India – Citizens are not allowed to work in the manufacturing sector;
  • Indonesia – Male citizens are only allowed to work in the manufacturing sector, whereas females can work in all sectors;
  • Kazakhstan;
  • Laos;
  • Myanmar;
  • Nepal;
  • Pakistan;
  • Philippines – female citizens are prohibited from working in any sector;
  • Sri Lanka;
  • Thailand;
  • Turkmenistan;
  • Uzbekistan; and
  • Vietnam

Requirements

As with Employment Passes, the employer must apply for the temporary employment pass on behalf of the foreign applicant. The employer must also apply for a visa approval letter from the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

The employer will need to provide the following documents:

  • VDR application form;
  • an approval letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the quota approval;
  • 12 and IM.38 visa application forms;
  • receipt of payment for levy;
  • security bond – insurance guarantees/bank guarantee;
  • copy of the foreign applicant’s passport;
  • passport-sized photo of applicant;
  • medical certificate issued from a medical centre in the applicant’s country of origin (valid for three months);
  • foreign Worker Compensation Scheme (insurance);
  • an insurance policy of the Health Insurance Protection Scheme Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) (health insurance); and
  • FOMEMA Certificate

Professional visit pass

The professional visit pass is granted to foreign workers with the necessary qualifications or skills to work in Malaysia temporarily for up to 12 months. They can only provide their services to a Malaysian company on behalf of an overseas company and are not allowed to apply for a dependent’s pass.

Requirements

The sponsor company in Malaysia must make the application to the Immigration Department by submitting the following documents:

  • application letter from sponsor (must be signed by authorized endorser as per the Letter of Undertaking);
  • recent passport photo;
  • offer letter/agreement for services/sponsor contract/internship offer in Malaysia (duly stamped by Inland Revenue Board);
  • copy of the passport of the foreign employee (full booklet with cover, with 12 months validity period);
  • confirmation letter by home-/base-country Company on the applicant’s employment details (salary, designation, duration of pass applied, etc), if applicable;
  • detailed Job Description printed on the company’s letterhead;
  • latest updated comprehensive Resume
  • personal Bond form (NOT applicable for Chinese and Bangladesh nationality—duly stamped by Inland Revenue Board); or
    • security Bond & Bank Guarantee (for Chinese and Bangladesh nationality ONLY)
  • letter of Award (LOA); or
    • contract, if applicable
  • 12 and IM.38 visa application forms;
  • academic certificates (for international students);
  • letter of approval from the Department of Religion and the Islamic Religious Department (for religious missionaries); and
  • supporting document from Approving Agency/Regulatory Body (If applicable).

Additional documents for specific activities

  • for machinery/equipment installation/commissioning/maintenance:
    • invoice of purchase of machinery;
    • form K1/ZB4/Others/BI; or
    • letter of Confirmation from the Customs Department to validate the company’s physical location in FTZ
  • for secondment in mining activities:
    • approval letter from the Minerals & Geoscience Department Malaysia on mining activity;
    • supporting letter from the Minerals & Geoscience Department Malaysia for individuals; and
    • mining License
  • for Flight Simulator Tester:
    • supporting letter from the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia
  • for internship
    • training schedule/job description of the internship is required
  • for hotel trainees:
    • Memorandum of Understanding on the special arrangement for hotel training
    • valid certificate of star rating from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture

Once the professional visit pass has been approved, the employee can then apply for the VDR (certain nationals do not need an entry visa) to enter the country.

After arrival in Malaysia, the employee must visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia to receive the professional visit pass sticker on their passport.

Digital nomad visa

Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa is a work permit that allows remote workers to stay in the country for a longer period. This visa lasts up to 1 year, and you can apply for 1 extra year.

Requirements

To apply for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa, you’ll need to submit the following documents:

  • passport all pages (must have a minimum of 6 empty pages and at least 14 months remaining validity)
  • latest CV
  • latest 3 months’ bank statement​
  • latest 3 months’ income statement or latest tax returns​​
  • latest 3 months’ payslip​
  • letter of good conduct (issued by an authorized body in the respective country or current residence)​​
  • personal bond (to fill out the prescribed form)​​
  • highest education certificate​
  • medical insurance enrolment certificate, which is valid in Malaysia (must also cover dependents, if any)​​
  • Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia tax registration slip​​

In addition, to apply for the Malaysia Nomad Visa, remote workers must submit a valid employment contract with a contract period of 3 months or more. Digital freelancers and independent contractors must submit a valid project contract with a contract period of 3 months or more (a combination of contracts from multiple companies will also be accepted).

To find out more about Malaysia’s digital nomad visa, please refer to our dedicated article below.

Malaysia Nomad Visa 2023: Your Gateway to Living and Working in Malaysia

 

Social visit pass (long-term)

The social visit pass or PLS@XPATS allows the holder to stay in West Malaysia. However, employment is not allowed and requires conversion to Employment Pass.

Eligibility

  • children above 18 years old and unmarried of Employment Pass holder;
  • parents & Parents-in-law of Employment Pass holder;
  • common law spouse of an Employment Pass holder can be considered.

Requirements

For citizens who require a visa before entering Malaysia, applicants are required to apply for visa online (eVisa) or apply for a visa at the Malaysian Representative Office prior to traveling to Malaysia.

  • recent passport photo
  • copy of passport (full booklet with cover)
  • copy of Birth Certificate (for children above 18 years old—translated into English)
    • Certified True Copy (CTC) by the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General of the respective country OR the respective Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General in Malaysia
  • copy of Birth Certificate of Employment Pass holder/Employment Pass holder’s spouse (for Parents and Parents-in-law—translated into English)
    • Certified True Copy (CTC) by the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General of the respective country OR the respective Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General in Malaysia
  • affidavit/acknowledgment letter from the Employment Pass holder’s Embassy/Consulate General on the relationship status (for common law spouse)
  • personal Bond form (duly stamped by Inland Revenue Board)
  • other documents specified upon request

Dependant pass

A dependant pass allows the spouse or children of an expatriate working in Malaysia to stay legally. The dependant pass is usually valid for the same duration as the expatriate’s employment pass, and it can be renewed as long as the expatriate remains employed in Malaysia. The dependant pass holders are not allowed to work in Malaysia unless they obtain a separate work permit.

Requirements

To apply for the Dependent pass, you’ll need to submit the following documents:

  • recent passport photo;
  • copy of passport (full booklet with cover);
  • copy of marriage certificate (for legal spouse—translated into English, if applicable);
    • attested/Certified True Copy (CTC) by the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General of the respective country OR the respective Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General in Malaysia
  • copy of Birth Certificate (for children below 18 years old—translated into English, if applicable);
    • attested/Certified True Copy (CTC) by the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General of the respective country OR the respective Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General in Malaysia
  • other documents specified upon request.

How to apply for your Malaysia work visa?

The employer has to apply for a Malaysia work permit on the applicant’s behalf. They must submit an application to the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

Step 1: Applying for Expatriate Post or Quota Approval

Your employer needs to apply for an Expatriate Post or quota approval from the relevant agency before applying for your Employment Pass. The agencies responsible for approval are:

  • Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) for manufacturing and services.
  • Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) for the technology sector.
  • Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) for finance, insurance, and banking.
  • Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) for biotechnology.
  • Securities Commission (SC) for securities and futures market.
  • Expatriate Committee (EC) for other sectors.
  • East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC)
  • Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division, Ministry of Health (MOH)
  • Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC)
  • Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation (Bioeconomy Corporation)
  • Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM)
  • Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB)
  • Ministry of Education (MOE)
  • Department of Mineral & Geoscience (JMG)

Employers who fall under the listed Approving Agencies now have the option to submit a Support Letter to move forward with their recruitment of foreign workers using Xpats Gateway.

Upon receiving the letter, the employer can proceed with the application and await a final decision from Malaysia’s Immigration Department through the ESD Online platform.

Step 2: Approval of Malaysia Work Permit

The Immigration Department must approve your work permit application before you can enter Malaysia. Once approved, you’ll receive a visa approval letter allowing you to travel.

Note: Visa requirements depend on your nationality. Visa-required nationals need to obtain a Malaysian entry visa (visa with reference) from the nearest Malaysian Representative Office (Embassy/Consulate).

Step 3: Applying for Malaysian Work Visa (Visa with Reference)

Visa-required nationals must apply for a Malaysia Visa With Reference from a Malaysian Embassy or Consulate. Non-visa-required nationals can travel with a Visa Approval Letter.

Step 4: Getting Your Work Permit Issued

Upon arrival in Malaysia, you need to submit your passport and pay for the Pass at the Malaysian Immigration Department. They will process your application, issue a sticker on your passport, and provide a work permit card.

Malaysia work visa processing time

The processing time takes approximately two weeks at the Immigration Department of Malaysia to issue a Malaysia work visa.

 

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