Condition to Apply for Employment Pass in Malaysia

It is not surprising to find out that we might be working in a different country due to various reasons in today’s society. For foreigners who plan to work in Malaysia, the first question that comes to mind might be: “Are there any permits required to apply in order to work legally?”. The answer to this doubt is a yes, in which you have to apply for an employment pass and dependent pass for yourself and your family. Basically, an employment pass known as a working visa enables foreign residents (often managers, executives, and skilled professionals) to live and work legally in Malaysia. On the other hand, a dependent pass permits the foreigner’s family members to reside in Malaysia as well, even though dependent pass holders are generally prohibited to work or generate an income in Malaysia.  

Things to Know about Employment Pass 

Expatriates are only permitted to work for the company stated in his or her employment pass. The holder is required to reapply for a new employment pass if they switch employers. Malaysian companies fall under strict legislations which limits the number of foreign expatriates that one can employ. Thus, the employer must demonstrate to the government that the foreign expatriates it plans to hire are essential and that their positions cannot be filled by locals. Ensuring one’s eligibility is a must for companies who wish to apply for an employment pass. The application criteria are listed as below: 

Table 1: Share Capital Requirement by Equity 

Equity Paid-Up Capital Required 
100% Local Owned RM 250,000 
Joint Venture (minimum foreign equity is 30%) RM 350,000 
100% Foreign Owned RM 500,000 
Foreign-owned companies (foreign equity at 51% and above) operating in the Wholesale, Retail and Trade (WRT) sectors (mandatory requirement to submit valid WRT license, if applicable). Please refer to the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs for WRT license application guidelines. OR Foreign-owned companies (foreign equity at 51% and above) involved in the sub sectors on unregulated services are required to refer to the Services Industry Division, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs on the application guideline to obtain approval. RM 1,000,000 

Eligibility Criteria for Employment Pass Applications for Expatriate(s) / Knowledge / Skilled Worker(s) 

The minimum requirements to apply for an expatriate post are as follows:  

  • Degree and above, with at least 3 years’ experience in the relevant field;  
  • Diploma, with at least 5 years’ experience in the relevant field;   
  • Technical Certificate or equivalent, with at least 7 years’ experience in the relevant field; 
  • Applicant must work in a managerial, executive or technical position which requires specific skills;  
  • Applicant must meet the required salary requirements; and   
  • Applicant must not take up work in a sector which is considered restricted by the Government of Malaysia.  

If the expatriate is only to act as a shareholder, these are the requirements: 

  • Shareholder(s) must have a minimum of 30% equity in the company; and 
  • Must be a SSM-registered Director of the company and/or holds a key position in the company. 

Table 2: Types of Employment Passes 

Employment Pass Categories Description Remarks 
EP Category I Applicants must earn a minimum salary of RM 10,000 per month and above with a minimum employment contract of 5 years and beyond. This EP is valid up to 5 years, renewable every 5 years and applicants are allowed to bring dependents and hire a foreign domestic helper. This EP is usually for key positions such as CEOs, COOs, Managing Directors, Senior Partners, etc. 
EP Category II Applicants must earn a minimum salary of RM 5,000 to RM9,999 per month with a minimum employment contract of 2 years. This EP is valid up to 2 years, renewable every 2 years and applicants are allowed to bring dependents and hire a foreign domestic helper. This EP is usually for managerial and professional positions such as managers, lecturers, directors, architects, etc. 
EP Category III Applicants must earn a minimum salary of RM 3,000 to RM4,999 per month with a minimum employment contract not exceeding 12 months.  This EP is renewable up to 2 times only and applicants are NOT allowed to bring dependents and hire a foreign domestic helper. This EP is usually for non-executive positions that require significant work experience and specific technical or practical skills such as designers (fashion, manufacturing, furniture), craftsmen, technicians, engineers, etc. 

*Note: Companies intending to apply for EP Category III must first receive approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs to seek exemption from the minimum salary requirement of RM5,000 before making an application. 

Authority Approval and Licensing Requirement 

Companies regulated by an Approving Agency or Regulatory Body need to submit an approval letter from the relevant Approving Agency/ Regulatory body for all Employment Pass categories. As these Approving Agencies/ Regulatory Bodies regulate companies in specific economic sectors, they are as such responsible for approving and supporting expatriate posts in the relevant sectors. 

*Note: Companies are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that they have all the valid required license(s) and approval(s) for company registration purposes. 

Depending on the Applicant’s profession, the Applicant’s employer has to apply for the Expatriate Post at one of the following government-approved agencies: 

  • Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) for the sectors of manufacturing and services. 
  • Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for the technology sector. 
  • Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) for the sectors of finance, insurance, and banking. 
  • Bioeconomy Corporation for the sector of biotechnology and bio-based industry. 
  • Securities Commission (SC) for the sector of securities and futures market. 
  • Expatriate Committee (EC) (operating under the Immigration Department of Malaysia) for sectors other than those mentioned above. 

Once the Expatriate Committee or another authorized agency has approved the employer’s application, the employer can proceed to apply the Employment Pass. 

Sectors NOT Allowed To Apply For Employment Pass 

The following sectors are restricted from applying for employment pass under the Guidelines on Foreign Participation in the Distributive Trade Services Malaysia: 

  • Supermarket / mini market (less than 3,000 square sales floor area) 
  • Provision shop / general vendor 
  • Convenience store (that opens for business for 24 hours) 
  • News agent and miscellaneous goods store 
  • Medical hall (inclined towards traditional alternative medicines plus general dry foodstuff) 
  • Fuel station with convenience store 
  • Fuel station without convenience store  
  • Permanent wet market store 
  • Permanent pavement store 
  • National strategic interest 
  • Textile, restaurant (non-exclusive), bistro, jewellery shops 
  • Others 

Different Types of Additional Pass 

1. DEPENDENT PASS 

The Dependent Pass provides foreigners with permission to bring their families with them while they are living in Malaysia to study or work. 

Who is eligible to apply for a Dependent Pass?  

Dependent Pass is eligible for whoever fulfils the criteria as the following:  

  • An Employment Pass holder Category 1 (in a key role in the company and with a monthly salary of at least RM10,000).  
  • An Employment Pass holder Category 2 (in a managerial and professional position in a company and with a monthly salary between RM5,000 and RM9,999).  
  • A Student Pass holder who is undergoing Master and Ph.D studies in a Malaysian educational institution.  

Individuals who hold Employment Pass Category 3, Temporary Employment Pass, or a Professional Visit Pass are NOT allowed to apply for a Dependent Pass for their family members. Moreover, student Pass holders who are in BA studies or lower, or in a language school are also NOT allowed to apply for a Dependent Pass for their family members.  

What family members can you bring with a Dependent Pass to Malaysia?  

If you fulfil the criteria to apply for the Employment Pass, the following are the family members you can apply for a Dependent Pass:  

  • Your legal spouse (husband/wife)  
  • Children under 21 years of age (biological, adopted, or stepchild)  
  • Dependent children regardless of age (if they have a physical or mental disability rendering them dependent on you)  

If you want to bring your common-law spouse (unmarried), dependent parents or parents-in-law, or children over 21, you must apply for the Long Term Social Visit Pass.  

On the other hand, if you are a Student Pass holder, you can apply for a Dependent Pass for the following family members:  

  • Your legal spouse (husband/wife)  
  • Your children under 21 years of age (biological, adopted, or stepchild)  
  • Dependent children regardless of age (if they have a physical or mental disability rendering them dependent on you)  
  • Your parents  

The duration of your family members’ Dependent Pass will be equivalent with your own Employment Pass or Student Pass, while the pass is renewable. Take note that Dependent Pass holders are PROHIBITED to work in Malaysia. For which of your family member who plans to start working in Malaysia, their Dependent Pass is compulsory to be converted into an Employment Pass. 

2. LONG TERM SOCIAL VISIT PASS 

Foreign nationals who wish to stay in Malaysia for a duration longer than six months are required to apply for a Long Term Social Visit Pass. It is given to foreigners who require medical treatment in Malaysia as well as to family members of Employment Pass holders or spouses of Malaysian residents. 

Who is eligible to apply for a Long Term Social Visit Pass?  

The Long Term Social Visit Pass (sometimes also known as “Spouse Visa”) is available to:  

  • The foreign national spouse of a Malaysian citizen  
  • Family members of Employment Pass holders who fall under the following categories:  
  1. Common-law spouse  
  2. Children over 21 (they must not be married)  
  3. Parents or parents-in-law  
  4. Foreign nationals seeking medical treatment in Malaysia and 1 companion  

The Long Term Social Visit Pass is issued for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years. Application for renewal is allowed as long as it is done before expiration.  

Long Term Social Visit Pass holders are NOT permitted to work while holding a Long Term Social Visit Pass. The Long Term Social Visit Pass must be changed into an Employment Pass if your family member wants to begin working. 

Working permit for Spouse of Malaysian Citizen  

Spouses of Malaysian citizens can work in Malaysia without having to change their Long Term Social Visit Pass into an Employment Pass.  

They have to get an endorsement to work in their passport by the Immigration Department of Malaysia.   

To apply for the work endorsement, the spouse has to submit the following documents to the Visa, Pass and Permit Division of the Immigration Headquarters or the nearest state Immigration office.: 

  • A letter of application  
  • The letter of appointment or company registration evidence 
  • Their marriage certificate 
  • The valid Long Term Social Visit Pass  

3. RESIDENCE PASS TALENT (RP-T) FROM TALENT CORP 

The Residence Pass Talent (RP-T), commonly referred to as the “Talent Pass,” is a renewable document that allows the holder to work in Malaysia for up to ten years. The RP-T holder is free to switch employment as much as he wants without having to renew his Employment Pass each time. The spouse of an RP-T holder is eligible to look for work without having to submit an Employment Pass application. 

The RP-T holder is permitted to go to Malaysia with his spouse and any children aged below 18. In order to bring his parents and children aged above 18 to Malaysia, the RP-T holder can assist them in applying for a Long Term Social Visit Pass. 

All applications for the RP-T will be processed by the Malaysia Expatriate Talent Service Center, which is under the control of Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (MYXpats Centre). 

Who is eligible to apply for a Residence Pass Talent?  

Only talented foreign expatriates who meet the following requirements and are currently residing and employed in Malaysia will be granted the RP-T: 

  • You have lived in Malaysia for at least 3 years on a valid Employment Pass (EP).  
  • At the time of application, your EP is still valid for at least three more months.  
  • You are a “high achieving” professional and can help develop Malaysia’s economy.  
  • You have a minimum of 5 years of work experience.  
  • You earn a monthly salary of at least RM15,000 (bonuses and allowances excluded).  
  • You hold academic qualifications from a recognized educational institution.  
  • You have paid income tax in Malaysia for at least 2 years.  
  • You have a Malaysian income tax file number.  

Foreign expatriates in the following industries, known as “key economic areas”, are more likely to receive a RP-T:  

  • Oil, Gas & Energy  
  • Palm Oil and Rubber  
  • Tourism  
  • Education  
  • Healthcare  
  • Financial Services  
  • Business Services  
  • Communications, Content and Infrastructure  
  • Electrical & Electronics  
  • Agriculture  
  • Wholesale and Retail  

There is a special category of RP-T for MTEP under MDEC. This is only designed for established tech entrepreneur.   

4. MALAYSIA TECH ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAMME (MTEP) FROM MDEC 

The Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP) is intended for foreign tech founders who wish to enter Malaysia for a period of one year (new entrepreneurs) or five years (established entrepreneurs) in order to gain access to the ASEAN market. 

The application is to be made via MDEC and once MDEC approves, the Immigration Department will issue either a Professional Visit Pass or a Residence Pass. It is widely considered to be a fast-track route (within 6 weeks) compared to the ordinary Employment Pass route (which may take between 4-6 months). Also, there is no minimum paid up capital requirement (although we recommend that you should inject certain paid up capital to show seriousness in your business).  

Who is eligible to apply for the MTEP’s Pass?  

There are 2 categories:   

New Entrepreneur (an individual with no track record of established business)  

Duration of pass: 1 year   

Type of pass: Professional Visit Pass – MTE  

Allowed to bring dependent: No   

What happens after 1 year? Can apply to upgrade to Residence Pass – MTE (for Established Entrepreneur) or apply for the usual Employment Pass . 

Established Entrepreneur (an individual with track record of established business)  

Duration of pass: up to 5 years   

Type of pass: Residence Pass – MTE  

Allowed to bring dependent: Yes   

The Pass under the MTEP is only issued to foreign tech founders who fulfil the following criteria:   

  • BUSINESS PITCH DECK 

Details on the market opportunity, suggested business idea, and financial arrangements. (e.g. about your business, product/solutions, plans in Malaysia, personal profile/capabilities in contributing to tech ecosystem, key highlights/achievements, testimonials, etc). 

  • FINANCIAL TRACK RECORD 

New Entrepreneur 

3 months personal bank statement (minimum amount of RM50,000 but not limited to Malaysian banks)  

Established Entrepreneur 

3 months personal bank statement (minimum amount of RM50,000 but not limited to Malaysian banks) and proof of business performance (i.e: Management Accounts, Audited Accounts, Financial track record etc). 

  • CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT 

A document issued from the embassy or enforcement agency that states of no criminal record of an applicant in their residing country  

  • SPONSOR 

New Entrepreneur 

  • Personal bond document signed by Malaysia Digital Hubs or MTEP recognized partners.  
  • Letter of Offer or Tenancy Agreement from any Malaysia Digital Hubs or MTEP recognized partners 

Established Entrepreneur  

  • Declaration form from a Malaysian sponsor or individual who has personally known you for many years. 
  • FOR FOREIGN VENTURE CAPITAL 

Established Entrepreneur 

  • Founder, co-founders or the Malaysian Venture Partner 
  • Minimum funds of RM10mil 
  • Must be registered with Securities Commission Malaysia as Venture Capital Management Corporations (VCMC) 

5. PROFESSIONAL VISIT PASS  

Foreign talent with sufficient professional credentials or skills is issued a Professional Visit Pass (PVP). They may temporarily enter the nation to provide services or receive hands-on training from a Malaysian business on behalf of an outside organisation. 

A PVP has a 12-month validity period and can be extended for an additional 12-month period can be granted through renewal application. A PVP holder must be legitimately employed and paid by an overseas business in order to travel, and he is not permitted to bring along dependents. 

Who is eligible for a Professional Visit Pass?  

You can work in Malaysia with a Professional Visit Pass if you fall under one of the following categories:  

  • Foreign artist (filming and performance)  
  • Stage artist (singing, music, dance, theatre, acrobatics, circus etc.) 2 
  • Filming (in Malaysia, but with an overseas company)  
  • Producing (filming)  
  • Performance (in hotels, cultural centers, stadiums, etc)  
  • Expert in arts management and screen-related arts.  
  • Islamic missionary:  
    • Islamic Teacher  
    • Al-Quran Teacher  
    • Arabic Teacher 
  • Other religious workers:  
    • Gurukkal  
    • Granthi  
    • Priest  
    • Guru Dharma  
    • Religious musicians and sculptors  
  • International students attending religious courses studies with the Malaysia Bible Seminary.  
  • Government officials travelling for official purposes (government to government program/governmental purposes)  
  • Jockey expert  
  • Volunteer  
  • International student under a mobility program or industrial training 

FAQs about Employment Pass 

1. I am interested in applying for an Employment Pass (EP) under my own Private Limited (Sdn Bhd) company, can I do that? 

Yes, all Sdn Bhd companies are allowed to apply for an EP, except for those who fall under restricted sectors are then prohibited to apply. 

Kindly take note that companies with or more than 51% foreign shareholding and operating in the Wholesale, Retail and Trade (WRT)sectors required to have the WRT license before they are entitled to apply for an EP. 

The following sectors are PROHIBITED from applying for employment pass under the Guidelines on Foreign Participation in the Distributive Trade Services Malaysia: 

  • Supermarket / mini market (less than 3,000 square sales floor area) 
  • Provision shop / general vendor 
  • Convenience store (that opens for business for 24 hours) 
  • News agent and miscellaneous goods store 
  • Medical hall (inclined towards traditional alternative medicines plus general dry foodstuff) 
  • Fuel station with convenience store 
  • Fuel station without convenience store  
  • Permanent wet market store 
  • Permanent pavement store 
  • National strategic interest 
  • Textile, restaurant (non-exclusive), bistro, jewellery shops 
  • Others 

2. What are the requirements for applying for an Employment Pass? 

First of all, please ensure that your company can meet the requirements to apply for an Employment Pass which is required by the Immigration Department. Please refer to the table above regarding Table 1 and 2. 

3. I am not willing to inject the high Paid-Up Capital, is there any other way I can apply for the Employment Pass using the same company? 

No, the Paid-Up Capital requirement is the minimum requirements fixed by the Immigration Department for companies who wish to apply for an Employment Pass. 

4. How high is the chance of me getting the Employment Pass? 

It mostly depends on the qualifications of the applicants. You can refer to the minimum requirements for application to increase the possibility of successful application: 

  • Degree and above, with at least 3 years’ experience in the relevant field;  
  • Diploma, with at least 5 years’ experience in the relevant field;   
  • Technical Certificate or equivalent, with at least 7 years’ experience in the relevant field; 
  • Applicant must work in a managerial, executive or technical position which requires specific skills;  
  • Applicant must meet the required salary requirements; and   
  • Applicant must not take up work in a sector which is considered restricted by the Government of Malaysia.  

If the expatriate is only to act as a shareholder, these are the requirements: 

  • Shareholder(s) must have a minimum of 30% equity in the company; and 
  • Must be a SSM-registered Director of the company and/or holds a key position in the company. 

5. I am the director of my Private Limited Company (Sdn Bhd), can I apply for a Business Owner Visa to work in Malaysia? 

No, there is no such thing as a Business Owner Visa in Malaysia. Application for an Employment Pass is the only method for all directors or employees who wish to work in Malaysia. 

6. I have injected the amount of Paid-Up Capital required, can I withdraw the money from my company business bank account? 

Yes, you can. As long as you can prove the sum of capital has been deposited to the bank account. 

However, do bear in mind that the withdrawal of capital will become the amount of debt towards the company for whoever received the fund e.g. amount owing by shareholder / director. 

7. Normally how long is the approval (how many years of EP) can I get from the first Employment Pass application? 

The Immigration Department will usually approve a 1 year Employment Pass for new application. The applying company can renew the pass 3 months BEFORE the expiry date. The renewal procedure is quite simple and straightforward. The approval for pass renewal depends on the Immigration Department’s decision. 

8. What is the procedure of applying for an Employment Pass? 

Basically, there are 2 stages: 

First Stage: Applying company to register an ESD account. (Approx 2 – 3 months) 

Second Stage: Employment Pass application (Approx 2 – 3 months) 

9. How much is an Employment Pass? 

The whole process is estimated to cost around RM 10,500 to RM 9000 (with MyFutureJob exemption).  

10. Is there any guarantee on the success application? 

No, the approval decision solely depends on the decision by the Immigration Department. 


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