Your Guide to Navigating Work Permits and Employment in Malaysia

Malaysia’s economy is on the constant rise, leading to an increased demand for labour and a corresponding rise in expatriate presence. In February 2024 itself, The Department of Statistics Malaysia announced that there was a continued uptrend in the number of employed individuals, marking a 0.2% increase compared to January 2024.

The growing employment population, especially when hiring internationally, enhances the importance for employers to familiarise themselves with the prerequisites and procedural complexities of obtaining work permits, ensuring compliance with regulations for successful employment in Malaysia. Understanding local labour laws and tax regulations is equally crucial to avoid legal complications while operating within the country.

However, it’s worth noting that the Malaysian government has recently intensified its immigration regulations, making the acquisition of work permits more challenging, particularly depending on the type of visa. Below, we outline the various types of work permits available and provide guidance on how to obtain them in Malaysia.

What are the type of work permits in Malaysia?

  • Employment Pass (EP) – The Malaysia Employment Pass comprises of three distinct categories. These categories were designed based on the salary offered to employee.
    • Employees under the EP are paid by local employer in Malaysian Ringgit.
    • Employment Contract must be issued by the local company inclusive the acceptance by the assignee. The Employment Contract must also be duty stamped by the Malaysia Inland Revenue Board (MIRB).
    • A bank guarantee or personal/security bond is not required.
  1. Category 1: This classification targets high-level leadership positions within a company.
    • Applicants in this category must earn a minimum monthly salary of RM10,000 and a work contract that goes up to five years.
    • EP Holders under Category 1 are eligible to bring dependants to Malaysia with them.
  2. Category 2:
    • Applicants in this category must earn a monthly salary of RM5,000 – RM9,999 and a work contract that goes up to at least two years.
    • EP Holders under Category 2 are eligible to bring dependants to Malaysia with them.
  3. Category 3: This category is tailored for knowledge and skilled workers.
    • Applicants in this category must earn a monthly salary of RM3,000 – RM4,000 and a work contract of not more than two years.
    • Applicants in Category 3 cannot renew their EP more than two times. In the case that an employee wishes to hire the employee again under the same category, the employee is required to serve 3 months ‘cooling period’ in their residential country from the date of the current pass expiry date.
    • EP Holders under Category 3 are not eligible to bring dependants to Malaysia with them.

For details on the Employment Pass, please see below:

Employment Pass Application in Malaysia
Reference: Guide to Hiring in Malaysia
  • Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) – Applicants for a Visit Pass must fall within the age bracket of 18 to 45 years old between time of application and originate from one of the following eligible countries and both genders may work in all sectors unless stated below:
    • Indonesia
    • Thailand
    • Cambodia
    • Bangladesh
    • Myanmar
    • Laos
    • Vietnam
    • Pakistan
    • Sri Lanka
    • Turkmenistan
    • Uzbekistan
    • Kazakhstan
    • Nepal – Permitted to work in all sectors and security sector (male) as a security guard in Malaysia.
    • Philippines – Males are allowed to work in all sectors, females are only allowed to work as a Domestic Helper.
    • India – Allowed to work for the service sector (sub-sectors of Indian community business, laundry / cleaning, and cargo), agriculture farming, manufacturing, and construction.

Source: Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR) and Official Portal Immigration Department of Malaysia Ministry of Home Affairs

  • Professional Visit Pass (PVP) – A Professional Visit Pass is for foreign talent with the required professional qualifications or skills provided by the Expatriate Services Division.
    • PVP Category I: Expertise Transfer
    • PVP Category II: Research
    • PVP Category III: Training at ESD-registered companies
    • PVP Category IV: Volunteers
    • PVP Category V: Exhibitors under regulation of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB)
    • PVP Category VI: Student Internship (must be relevant to the applicant’s education background) under:
      • Foreign Embassies
      • ESD-registered companies
      • Hotels
  • Employees under the PVP are paid by the abroad company.
  • Offer Letter must be issued by the local company and Acceptance Letter must be issued by the abroad company on the acceptance of the assignee’s placement or assignment.
  • A bank guarantee or personal/security bond is required.
  • Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T) – This is a ten-year validity visa for highly skilled expatriates, allowing them to reside and work in Malaysia without being tied to a single employer.

Read also: Guide to Hiring in Malaysia

Are employees holding a work permit in Malaysia allowed to bring family members into Malaysia?

Employees holding a work permit under Employment Pass Category 1 and Category 2 in Malaysia can indeed bring their family members into the country. They can apply for a Dependent Pass for their spouse, parent, or child, allowing them to accompany the employee in Malaysia.

For more details and information on Employment Passes in Malaysia, please refer to the following official websites:

  1. Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass – https://esd.imi.gov.my/portal/
  2. Employment Pass in ICT Sector – https://mdec.my/expats
  3. Residence Pass-Talent – https://rpt.talentcorp.com.my/
  4. Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) – https://www.imi.gov.my/
Employment Visa Application in Malaysia

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