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All About the Immigration Malaysia Work Permit

Immigration Malaysia Work Permit

If you are planning to relocate to Malaysia, you will obviously need to support yourself within the country. Fortunately, there is a sound economy and many employment opportunities.

To make the most of these, however, you will need a work permit. This document will entitle you to do a job in Malaysia on a completely legal standing. Throughout this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of professional permits.

Visit our dedicated page to obtain a Malaysia tourist eVisa to visit before you decide to work here.

The country is thriving – but also producing many ‘home grown’ workers and graduates as the educational system has improved. The largest percentage of work available to foreign workers is in, but not restricted to:

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Electronics
  • Financial services
  • Medical technology
  • Tourism

Furthermore, there is a COL (Critical Occupations List), showing where there is an urgent requirement for skilled personnel in various positions. You are able to find this when applying for your permit or visa. Some of these positions are at management or higher management levels.

What Is the Difference Between a Work Permit and a Work Visa in Malaysia?

‘Work visa’ is a catch-all term for jobs in the country. Essentially, a work permit and a work visa are the same things here. However, there are several different types of permits available for foreign workers.

What Is the Malaysia Employment Pass?

This is the most unrestricted – and difficult to obtain – employment visa in Malaysia. This document is reserved for skilled overseas employees in positions of senior management.

Any application for this pass must be approved by the Expatriate Services Division (ESD), or a governing body of equal standing.

An applicant will likely need to earn a monthly salary of at least 3,000 MYR (723 USD) per month. For some roles, no salary below 10,000 MYR (2,400 USD) per month will be considered eligible for an Employment Pass. For this pass, and for all passes, you will need 18 months left before your passport expires.

What Is the Temporary Employment Pass for Foreign Employees in Malaysia?

This is an employment permit that entitles somebody to work in the country for up to 2 years. The holder of a Foreign Worker Temporary Employment Pass can work in the following industries:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Plantation
  • Services

In addition, the Foreign Domestic Helper (FDH) Temporary Employment Pass is only available to women. It is intended for workers in the care sector. This pass entitles the individual to work from her employer’s home, aiding children or elderly and infirm relatives.

What Is the Professional Visit Pass for a Foreign Worker in Malaysia?

This permit is reserved for employees of a foreign business that work in the country for up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances. Typically, this pass is reserved for consultants or employees on secondment.

What Is the Special Pass for a Foreign Worker in Malaysia?

The Special Pass for overseas workers in the country is an extension for employees that have not managed to renew a working visa. This allows the employee to remain in the country for an additional 30 days. After this period, you must leave the country.

A Special Pass does not give you the right to look for a new job and look to renew an existing or expired work permit.

What Is the Sarawak Immigration Work Permit?

Sarawak is the largest state in the country. As you can probably imagine, this means that employment opportunities are plentiful in Sarawak. However, to enter this state and gain legal employment, you will need a Sarawak immigration work permit.

This is the same process as any other permit or visa. It simply means that anybody staying in the country on a visitor’s pass is not permitted to seek employment in the state.

How to Apply as a Foreign Worker in Malaysia?

Before you can enter Malaysia on a working visa, you will need a job. Your employer will then apply for a permit for you. Migrant workers in Malaysia cannot just enter the country and hope to find employment once they get there.

Employment in the country is plentiful. Some businesses prefer to hire local employees though, as there is a foreign worker levy for any business that brings in employees from overseas.

Find a list of foreign worker agencies in the country to get started – your local embassy will be able to help with this. Be aware, however, that foreign labour in this country is mainly in unskilled trades.

The one exception is roles that qualify for the Malaysia Employment Pass. If this applies to your experience, look for a company that offers sponsorship in Malaysia. These will be the best companies to work for in Malaysia, offering the best jobs for foreigners.

What Are the Malaysia Work Permit Fees?

The type of permit fees for the country vary depending on your country of citizenship, the type of visa applied for, and the length of your visa. Book an appointment with the Malaysian embassy in your country to discuss permit fees.

How to Apply for a Work Permit with Immigration Malaysia

Your employer should be applying for your permit, as you will not be granted a working visa without a job.

This is usually done by writing an employment letter to the Foreign Workers Division of the Malaysian Immigration Department (aka Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia).

This is known as KDN approval for foreign workers. KDN stands for Kementerian Dalam Negeri, which is Malaysian for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

If you are asked to get involved, all applications are made through the Malaysian Immigration Department website, though it is advisable to ask the Malaysian embassy for help.

How to Check a Work Permit With Immigration Malaysia

You can check your Malaysian permit status online at any time using the website of the Malaysian Immigration Department. You will need the following information:

  • Application Number (Nombor Permohonan)
  • Employer Identification Number (No. Kad Pengenalan Majikan)
  • Company Registration Number (No. Pendaftaran Syarikat)

Do not start the process without these documents – you will not get far. Seek help from your employer if necessary.

Process for Renewal of a Work Permit for Foreign Workers in Malaysia

All applications for renewal of a permit for foreign workers in the country are handled online through MYEG (Malaysian Electronic Government). You will need your Malaysian identity card to complete this application.

This renewed permit will be delivered to your employer, so do not attempt to trick the authorities into extending your stay after completing a work assignment. Bookmark this site, though – you will need it for day-to-day life here.

Is an Expatriate Work Permit Available From Immigration Malaysia?

Malaysian expatriates can apply for an Employment Pass through the Expatriates Service Division. This will entitle the employee to be employed by any Malaysian business for a period of up to 60 months.

Cancellation Process for a Malaysian Work Permit

You are entitled to cancel your permit in Malaysia and apply for a refund if you decide to leave the country sooner than anticipated. Your employer must write a letter to confirm that you wish to cancel your permit. This usually takes effect within 3 working days. You will then have 30 days to leave the country.


By now we’ve provided you with lots of helpful information to apply for your work permit to this Southeast Asian country. If you’re curious to learn more, find the answers to some frequently asked questions below!

What Is the Definition of Foreign Workers in Malaysia?

The definition of a foreign worker in Malaysia is not determined by job title, education or whether the role performed is skilled or unskilled. In short, any citizen of an overseas country that holds down a position of employment within the country would be considered a foreign worker.

It is estimated that foreign workers make up roughly 10% of the entire workforce of the country, particularly in the wood manufacturing and agriculture industries.

What Is the Malaysian Labour Law for Foreign Workers?

The Malaysian Labour Law for Foreign Workers protects your rights as an employee. You must be treated with the same fairness as any Malaysian national. If an employer withholds the wages of a foreign worker, they are committing a criminal offence and will be fined up to 10,000 MYR.

What Is the Foreign Worker Levy in Malaysia?

Any employer that brings foreign labour into the country must pay a Foreign Worker Levy. The expense of this varies between industries. As a result, some industries and businesses may be reluctant to hire overseas workers in the country. It is cheaper for them to utilise local employees.

What Jobs are There for Foreigners?

In theory, a foreign worker can perform any job in the country if they have the appropriate permit. However, most jobs for foreign employees are in the unskilled and manual industries. Anything else will require the Malaysia Employment Pass, which is harder to achieve than any other working visa.

Is There a Foreign Worker Medical Check-up in Malaysia?

If you hope to work in the country, you will need to undergo a full and rigorous medical. Under Malaysian law, only healthy employees may enter, and remain, in the country.

You will need to provide full medical records and you will be subjected to numerous blood tests. If you have, or have ever had, particular medical conditions, your immigration to Malaysia and permit application may be denied, or heavily scrutinised.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful! To learn about Malaysia’s country codes ahead of immigrating here, such as the country’s international phone number and post codes, read our article here.

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