Malaysia: New immigration policies take effect
A wide range of new immigration policies that affect employers with MSC or ICT status took effect today.
What does the change mean? The Malaysian Digital Economy Corp. (MDEC) agency announced the changes last month, and they touch on issues ranging from new requirements for first-time and renewal employment pass applicants to passport validity rules and processes for parents of newborn children.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The changes took effect today.
- Visas/permits affected: Employment passes (Categories I, II and III), dependent passes, long-term social visit passes.
- Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals working in or planning on working in Malaysia.
- Business impact: Employers should ensure that policies are updated and that foreign employees are made aware of the changes.
Background: The new policies cover a wide range of issues and were announced in piecemeal fashion last month. Among key changes:
- Approval Letters. All employment pass applicants and their dependents must obtain an approval letter issued by MDEC before entering Malaysia. Visa-required nationals also must obtain a visa or visa with reference (VWR) endorsement from a Malaysian mission before traveling.
- Passports: Passports must be valid at least 12 months beyond the date when they are endorsed with a visa. BAL recommends that passports be valid for 13 or more months.
- Required exit. People applying to renew a Category III employment pass must cancel their pass, exit Malaysia and apply for a VWR in their home country before returning to Malaysia. This rule will also apply to dependent pass, student pass and professional visit pass holders applying for Category III employment passes.
- Cooling off period. Category III employment pass holders seeking to switch employers and apply for a new Category III employment pass must exit Malaysia and remain outside the country for at least 90 days (from the date of cancellation of the previous employment pass). The same rule will apply to foreign employees applying for a fourth year on a Category III employment pass, either as a renewal or a change of job.
- Permission to Study. Employment pass holders seeking permission to study must submit their application through the e-Xpats Service Centre.
- Newborns. Parents of a child born in Malaysia who fail to apply for a dependent pass within six months of the date of birth must go through a longer three-step process and obtain a special pass through immigration authorities in Putrajaya before obtaining the child’s dependent pass.
- Social Visit Passes. Applicants seeking to renew a social visit pass for children over 18 years old or for common-law partners must obtain a new confirmation letter from the embassy of the applicant’s home country in Malaysia.
MDEC also announced last week that it would increase its enforcement of requirements on employment pass holders who switch employers, including requiring EP Category I and II holders to provide a release letter from their previous employer and have their current employment pass canceled when switching employers in country. This is not a new rule, but affected EP holders should anticipate stepped-up enforcement based on MDEC’s announcement.
BAL Analysis: Employers should take note of the changes and be prepared to adjust business and travel schedules if necessary.
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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Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP