Malaysia: ESD approval letter must be presented upon entry

Malaysia’s Expatriate Services Division is now strictly requiring that all employment pass applicants present their approval letter upon entering the country for work.

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What does the change mean? Foreign employees and their dependents are advised not to travel to Malaysia until the first stage of the applications has been completed and they have received their approval letters.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment passes, dependent passes, professional visit passes, long-term visit passes.
  • Who is affected: Visa-required nationals traveling to Malaysia for employment.
  • Impact on processing times: The policy affects the timing of travel.
  • Business impact: Employment pass applicants who enter Malaysia before obtaining an approval letter must exit the country and wait until the approval letter is granted before re-entering the country.

Background:Effective Aug. 1, foreign nationals entering Malaysia for employment must show their approval letter issued by the Expatriate Services Division. Previously, foreign nationals could enter Malaysia and wait for the application to be approved while in-country. Under the new process, foreign employees and dependents must wait for their approval letters to be issued before traveling to Malaysia, and foreign nationals from controlled countries must also wait to obtain a visa with reference.

Expatriate employees applying to change employers may complete the process in-country, but if they leave the country and their existing employment pass expires, the Expatriate Services Division may require them to remain abroad until the approval letter is granted.

BAL Analysis: Companies with MSC and ICT status should prepare for a similar change, as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is expected to follow suit and implement this rule as well. We are monitoring these developments and will provide updates as they become available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Malaysia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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