Expats wanting to work in Malaysia will require a work permit. Obtaining a work permit for Malaysia is often a lengthy and complicated process, but luckily for most expats, the bulk of the process is undertaken by their employing company. 

Work permits are generally valid for between six months and five years, depending on the duration of the work contract and the type of visa. Application forms are mostly in Malay, and applications for work permits are done from within the country.

When entering Malaysia on business or with the intention of staying on, visitors are required to have a sponsor. As part of the visa application process, a reference number will be issued so that it’s possible to track the progress of the application on the Immigration Department of Malaysia’s official website.

Conditions for work permits in Malaysia

There are restrictions on the number of foreign workers a Malaysian company can employ. A company that wants to hire foreign workers will have to prove to the government that the potential employee and their position are of vital importance and the job cannot be filled by a local.

Approval of employment is granted by the Immigration Department in conjunction with different regulatory agencies, depending on the industry and nature of work the foreigner will be undertaking. Once approval has been granted, the company can begin the application process for the work permit on behalf of the expat.

Types of work permits for Malaysia

The Malaysian government generally issues three different types of work permits:

Professional Visit Pass

The Professional Visit Pass is issued to foreigners employed by an overseas company but working with a company in Malaysia on a temporary basis. The Professional Visit Pass is valid for a maximum of 12 months.

Temporary Employment Pass

A Temporary Employment Pass is for unskilled or semi-skilled workers in the manufacturing, agriculture, construction and services fields. The pass is normally valid for two years, with extensions available on a yearly basis for up to 10 years. Before the work permit can be issued, quota approval needs to be granted from the Local Centre of Approval and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Employment Pass

An Employment Pass applies to those wanting to work in Malaysia and who have specific skills, generally in technical or managerial positions. Before the Employment Pass can be issued, the employment of the foreign worker must be approved by the relevant regulatory agency. Employment Passes can be granted for up to 12 or 60 months, depending on specifics such as the nature of the job, the salary earned and the length of the employment contract.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.