The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) recently announced that a series of new requirements for Employment Pass (EP) applications and related filings will be extended to employers within the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector on or after September 1, 2016.
Longer Passport Validity Requirement: For both new and renewal EP applications and related filings, the foreign national’s and any accompanying dependants’ passports must have at least 12 months of remaining validity at the time their Stage 2 application is filed. Foreign nationals and accompanying dependants are advised to have at least 15 months of remaining validity on their passports when entering Malaysia to account for in-country processing times.
Approval Letter Now Required: Foreign nationals and any accompanying dependants seeking an EP (in Category I, II or III), a Dependant’s Pass (DP), or a Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP) must obtain MDEC’s Stage 1 approval letter before entering Malaysia. This requirement is applicable to Stage 1 approval letters issued on and after September 1, 2016.
New Cooling Off Period: Foreign nationals and any accompanying dependants in the following four situations will be required to leave and remain outside of Malaysia for a three-month cooling off period before they can re-enter to file their Stage 2 application:
- Employees with EPs in Category III (which are held by those with a monthly salary between RM 2,500 and 4,999.99) seeking to change employers;
- Employees with EPs in Category III seeking their fourth EP, either as a renewal or who are changing positions;
- Employees seeking to convert a Social Visit (Temporary Employment) Pass to an EP, whether in Category I, II or III; or
- Employees seeking to convert a 12-month Professional Visit Pass (PVP) to an EP, whether in Category I, II or III.
Reference Visa Required for EP in Category III: Existing pass holders seeking to convert their passes (for example DP, PVP, LTSVP or Student’s Pass) to an EP in Category III, will be required to exit Malaysia and obtain a Reference Visa (VDR) before they can re-enter. This is also applicable to existing employees with EPs in Category III who are changing employers in Malaysia.
As discussed above, these individuals may also be subject to a new cooling off period.
Change of Employer and Release Letter: Existing EP holders who wish to obtain a new Employment Pass (Category I or II) with another employer in Malaysia must submit the following with their Stage 1 EP application sponsored by the new employer:
- A Release Letter containing approval of the change of employment from their previous employer in Malaysia; and
- A copy of the cancelled EP sponsored by the previous employer.
New Process for Children Born in Malaysia: If an EP holder’s child is born in Malaysia, a DP must be obtained for the child within six months of the child's birth. If a DP is not obtained during that time, aSpecial Pass must be obtained before a DP can be endorsed on the child’s passport. Both the EP holder and the newborn child must be physically present at the Immigration Department to submit the Special Pass application.
Original Supporting Documents Required for LTSVP Renewals: The LTSVP is sometimes used by family members of EP holders who are not eligible for Dependant’s Passes. These LTSVP holders will be subject to new original supporting documentation requirements as follows when seeking to renew their LTSVPs:
- Children of EP holders who are 18 years old or older will require an original letter from both a Commissioner for Oaths and the child’s home country embassy in Malaysia that confirm his or her eligibility for LTSVP status.
- The common law wife of an EP holder will require an original confirmation letter from her home country embassy in Malaysia as proof of a common law relationship.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Employers should generally expect longer processing times for EP applications and related filings after September 1, particularly for employees and accompanying dependants to whom any of the circumstances discussed above apply, such as foreign nationals seeking to change employers or EP holders with family members holding LTSVPs rather than Dependant’s Passes.
Employers should also pay close attention to employees and accompanying dependants holding EPs in Category III in light of the new cooling off period and VDR requirements, especially those who have already renewed their EPs several times.