Working in Malaysia

Types of residence permits and work: procedures, terms and requirements

At first the number of different types and Malaysian visa requirements could lead to confusion. However, the application process has been simplified for foreigners, since now all the necessary information and forms are available in English.
There are three types of visas issued by the Malaysian Government to foreigners:
Single entry visa: allows only one entry in the country and is a validation of a maximum of 3 months. It is usually issued for the purpose of tourism.
Multiple Entry Visa: This visa validation usually ranges from 3 to 12 months and is issued mainly for business or governmental. To obtain this visa the applicant must provide sufficient financial funds to cover their travel as well as a valid return ticket.
Transit Visa: For passenger traffic in Malaysia en route to another country. If the foreigner does not leave the airport while waiting for the connecting flight, a transit visa is not required.
Visa with / without Reference
Depending on the reason of travelling to Malaysia, you may need a visa that requires a reference published by the Malaysian Immigration Department. This usually applies to foreigners who come to Malaysia as professionals, students or dependents. For social purposes: tourism or conferences, references are not necessary. To request any of these visas, it is required to submit the following documents to the Malaysian Embassy or Consulate in the national’s country of origin:
• Original passport and two copies
• Visa application (IMM.47) and 2 copies
• 2 passport photos
• Bank statement showing sufficient financial funds
• Valid flight ticket and 2 copies
• Letter of approval from the Immigration Department of Malaysia (for visas with references only)
All foreigners entering the country obtain an entry pass. This is an endorsement in the passport, entry visa in addition to Malaysia issued in the country of origin concerned (when necessary), which allows visitors to stay temporarily. Depending on the purpose of the visit, the passes to be issued will be different:
Short Term Pass / Social Visit: These passes are issued for purposes such as tourism, business meetings, attending seminars or competitions. A form (IMM.55) will have to filled out at the point of entry.
Expansion Pass: can only be issued in special cases.
A Short Term Pass / Social Visit: does not allow any form of employment in Malaysia.
Long Term Pass / Social Visit: These passes are issued to certain foreign nationals for temporary residence for a minimum of six months. Foreigners entitled to this pass are the children and spouses of Malaysian citizens or permanent residents, the immediate family members of foreign students or foreigners coming to Malaysia for medical treatment. For more information and the requirements of the relevant documents, go to the Immigration Department of Malaysia website.
Student Passes: Foreign students wishing to study at a Malaysian university, have to send their request to the appropriate university before entering Malaysia. Having received a letter of offer from the same institution, it should be submitted along with the completed form IMM. 14 in duplicate copies, as well as the passport and two passport photos. Foreign students may work, but only at restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores and hotels. However, should academic performance be unsatisfactory, the permit will not be renewed.
Permanent residence in Malaysia
Permanent visas and residency programs


The requirements for obtaining a permanent visa are very simple,but the process can take up to several years. If you qualify, you can opt for the residency program in Malaysia instead.
Foreigners who have lived in Malaysia continuously for 5 years can apply for permanent residence. For foreigners married to Malaysian citizens, the required period is 10 years. The application must be sponsored by a citizen of Malaysia. They must submit the following documents in the Immigration Department of Malaysia:
• Completed (IMM. 4)
• Passport to cover the period of the last 5/10 years
• 2 passport size photographs of the applicant
• 1 passport size photograph of sponsor
• Other certificates and photographs of spouses and children (if applicable)
Program "Malaysia My Second Home" (MM2H)
The MM2H program was initially established by the Malaysian Government to allow all foreigners who meet certain conditions to remain in the country with a long-term visa at least 10 years (renewable). They can enter and leave the country freely without restrictions. Successful applicants may also bring their spouse, their children under 21 years and dependent parents over 60 years with them. A successful application is linked not only to compliance with certain financial and medical conditions, but also to various incentives.
• Financial requirements: All applicants must demonstrate that they are able to support themselves in Malaysia. This means in practice that they have to have a minimum income of RM 10,000 per month. In addition, applicants under 50 must show proof of a minimum of RM 500,000 in liquid assets. The amount of the sum required for applicants over 50 years is RM 350,000. Other requirements are requested approval. For more information visit the official website of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.
• Medical Requirements: All applicants are required to submit a medical report from a private clinic registered in Malaysia. They are required to buy health insurance.
• Restrictions: Until recently MM2H program participants were not allowed to work in Malaysia, but these restrictions have been relaxed and now participants age 50 and older are allowed to take part-time jobs.
• Incentives: to name just some of the many existing incentives, MM2H program participants are allowed to purchase property and vehicles to own and operate a business and an income tax exempt pension funds in Malaysia. Are issued an identification card from the Department of Immigration and in many cases are treated more as residents than foreigners.


The application form can be downloaded from MM2H website and can be submitted directly or through an agent. For further information on fees, requirements and procedures, visit the website MM2H.


 Work Visas 


Work permits in Malaysia are generally obtained by the employer. If you own a company and want to hire a foreigner, be prepared for a long process.
Employees and their families who come to Malaysia, who did not obtain a work permit before arrival, are allowed to enter the country with social passes and to apply for work permit after. Malaysia imposes strict penalties on illegal workers, it is highly recommended not to start work before the work permit is issued.
The dependants of work permit holders must apply for work permits themselves, if they want to work in Malaysia.
Requirements for work permits
In order to obtain a work permit, the passport must have a remaining validity of at least 18 months. The foreigner who comes to work from Spain must be 27 years or older (except in the field of Information Technology, where the minimum age is 23). Work permits are usually issued for periods of between six months and five years.
For employers, any information related to the process of visa requirements or required forms, is available on the official website of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
Depending on the type of work and skills, the individual steps in obtaining a work permit are published.
• Employment Pass: This pass is issued to employees with specific skills, usually for technical work. The minimum period is usually 2 years.
•Temporary Employment Pass: Issued for employment under 2 years or jobs with a monthly salary of less than RM 5000.
• Professional Visit Pass: Issued to foreigners employed by the company in the country of origin, but bound by a Malaysian company to provide certain services for a period of up to six months.
Scholarships and Jobs
Working conditions in the country: the minimum wage, contract types, schedules, permits.
The Labour Market in Malaysia
Malaysia is on track to become a highly developed country, with a flourishing economy and a stable labor market. However, this does not necessarily improve the employment prospects for expatriates.
Work restrictions for foreigners
In order to protect the local labor force from foreign competition the Malaysian government has set certain restrictions on employment of foreign nationals. Expatriates can only work for a maximum of 5 or 10 years, depending on the sector, provided that Malaysian professionals are trained to handle the work.
Companies also need to observe restrictions on the number of expatriate workers, and can only hire a foreign national if no Malaysian worker equally qualified for the position is available.
Prospects for expats
Foreign workers are usually required only in certain sectors, such as e-business. In addition, the career prospects are generally very low and wage increases are uncommon.
Malaysia intends to train its national workforce to compete internationally. This can make it difficult for skilled foreign workers to find a job in Malaysia.
However, as there are thousands of foreign and international companies from over 50 countries operating in Malaysia, there are still good opportunities to find employment, but the search may take a bit of effort and persistence.
Where to look for a job
It is very common to find a job on the Internet and there are many sites available regarding the Malaysian labor market, for example,
If you are already in Malaysia, you can take a look at the classified section of the main regional and national newspapers. Two which are available in English and on the Internet are the New Straits Times and Star. 


Working conditions in the Country


The Malaysian Employment Act defines workweeks of 48 hours, with a maximum of 8 hours per day and six days a week working.
There are special restrictions, in industry or agriculture, where they are not allowed to work between 10 pm and 5 am.
Malaysian workers are eligible for full-time employment at the age of 14.
However, there are certain protective regulations covering adolescents aged 14 to 16 years. Labour laws in this case differ slightly from that of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. In the latter children under the age of 14 can work, but only six hours a day and in very limited fields.
Normal office hours in Malaysia are 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, and many businesses and government agencies are also open until noon on Saturdays.
Malaysian labor law sets a minimum of 10 days of paid vacation per year. This is not much, but there are not many countries with so many religious holidays as Malaysia.
 Due to the different cultures and religions living in Malaysia, not only Muslim holidays are observed, but Buddhist, Hindu and Christian holidays as well.
If the period of employment o in a Malaysian company is longer than 1 month, a written contract is compulsory. The minimum requirements for the content of the contract are set out in the Employment Act of Malaysia 1955.
The contract should state the terms and conditions relating to the weekly or monthly working hour, probation and termination, overtime and holidays, as well as wages and the exact title of the work and functions. An employer may establish particular conditions, but must respect the minimum requirements of the Employment Act.
Notice of termination
The normal period of notice of termination depends on the duration of employment. Unless stated differently in the contract, the deadlines are:
• employed for less than two years: four weeks in advance
• employed between 2-5 years: 6 weeks
• employed for over 5 years: 8 weeks in advance
During the trial period, which is set by the company, the employee may be terminated without notice. The same applies to the termination by the employee. The trial period is usually between 1 and 6 months and dismissal must be justified. If a dismissal by the company comes after this period, and it is not due to the misconduct of the employee, the employee is entitled to severance benefits. The basis on which to calculate the number of days to be paid is the same as for the trial period (employed for less than two years / since 2-5 years / over 5 years).
Overtime Pay
Overtime pay is not less than 1.5 times the hourly wage on a normal working day, 2 times a day of rest and 3 times on a holiday. The total amount of overtime per month must not exceed 104.
Interesting links
Portal of young Spaniards Abroad
Returning to Spain.  Return Office
Companies that facilitate job search
Link to the Commercial Office website (
List of Spanish companies established in Malaysia:
1. ACERINOX SA (Bahru Stainless): Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd, Manufacturing stainless steel).
2. AMPO S. COOP - Valves Poyam: Regional Office, Engineering, castings, valves.
3. Antonio MATACHANA SA: Regional Office, medical equipment
4. Astral Pool SA: Represent Office, Sales teams and prod. Pools.
5. BAY CHEMICAL: Represent Office, Eq. oil and gas facilities.
6. VICINAY Group (Anchor Chain Sinar Malaysia): Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Sale chains and anchors for offshore platforms and equipment.
7. BROTHERS PEBBLE SL (Far East Sdn Bhd CUR): Joint venture (Sdn Bhd), Manufacturing switches and low voltage electrical equipment.
8. FAGOR AUTOMATION S. COOP: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Engineering Automation
9. Fagor S. COOP: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), distribution and installation of appliances.
10. FOODREG TECHNOLOGY SL: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Food Business Software.
11. GRUPO GMV: Representative Office, solutions and services for transportation, aerospace, defense.
12. HIPRA LABORATORIES SA: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd); Sale feed supplements.
13. Iberchem SA: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), perfumes and food fragrances.
14. IDIADA Automotive Technology: Regional Office, automobile engineering.
15. ITHACA: Represent Office, Tile Sale pigments.
16. LOEWE SA: Office Represent, fashion sales.
17. SOL MELIA: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Hotel Management.
18. OPER. MAINTENANCE AND ENERGY (Union Fenosa). Represent Office, Energy Consulting.
19. Panda Security: Office Represent., Anti-virus software sale.
20. ROCK CORPORATION SA: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Making health
21. SA Zed (Zed Mobile): Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd), Fashion Sale
22. MNG - MANGO: Franchise, Fashion Sale
23. Zara (Inditex): Franchise, Fashion Sale
24. UNEQUAL: Franchise, Fashion Sale
25. BIMBA & LOLA: Franchise, Fashion Sale
26. TRUCCO: Franchise, Fashion Sale
27. SALTO SYSTEMS: Represent Office, Software
28. SPIN TECHNOLOGIES: Office Represent., Automation Engineering
29. CAREER & CAREER: Branch (Sdn Bhd) Jewelry Sale.
30. SPANISH GECI SA: Office Represent. Engineering and Maintenance
31. Worldwide Retail Stores; License brand, National Geographic Stores
32. JSC Ingenium: Subsidiary (Sdn Bhd). Telecommunications
33. Chemo Malaysia: Office Represent., Pharmaceuticals
34. Indra Sistemas SA - Malaysia: Subsidiary, Projects transp. and defense.
35. GESAN SA: Office Represent., Generators
36. Grifols Malaysia: Branch, Health and pharmaceutical
37. EXPAL Systems SA: Office Represent., Defense materials



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