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Work Permits for Malaysia

Work Permits for Malaysia

Expats wanting to work in Malaysia will require a work permit. Obtaining a work permit for Malaysia is often a lengthy and complicated process. However, choosing to work without a valid work permit is not an option due to Malaysia’s strict laws.

There are currently restrictions on the number of foreign workers a Malaysian company can employ. If wanting to hire foreign workers, the company 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. The approval of the employment will be granted by different regulatory agencies in conjunction with the Immigration Department, depending on the industry and nature of work the foreigner will be undertaking. Once the approval for the appointment has been granted, the company can then begin the application process for the work permit on behalf of the expat.

Work permits generally last between six months and five years, depending on the duration of the work contract and the type of visa. Application forms are mostly in Bahasa Malaysia, and applications for Malaysian work permits are done within Malaysia.

When entering Malaysia on business or with the intention of staying on, visitors are required to have a sponsor within Malaysia. 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.

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. This pass is normally appropriate for technical experts and trainees, as well as volunteers. The Professional Pass is normally valid for short periods of around six months to a year.

Temporary Employment Pass

A Temporary Employment Pass is for unskilled or semi-skilled workers in the manufacturing, agriculture, construction and services fields, with a salary of less than RM 5000. The pass is normally valid for two years, with extensions available on a yearly basis. Before the work permit can be issued, quota approval needs to be granted from the Local Centre of Approval, 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. It is usually issued for a minimum period of two years. Before the Employment Pass can be issued, the employment of the foreign worker must be approved by the Expatriate Committee or the relevant regulatory agency.

Documents required for work permit applications

Generally, the following documents are required when applying for a work permit for Malaysia:

  • Application form and letter of appointment from employer
  • Offer of acceptance letter or employment contract
  • Relevant visa application forms
  • Letter of approval from Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Original receipts of payment of application
  • Copy of employee’s passport
  • Passport photos
  • Copies of employee’s CV and qualifications
  • Letter from employer confirming they will pay salaries and tax revenues for employee
  • Proof that employer operates according to the regulatory conditions of the industry
  • Medical report from the employee’s country of origin approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Health

*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.


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