Foreign nationals who wish to become employed in Malaysia will have to get a Malaysian work visa. The term “work visa” ecompasses the entire process of obtaining authorization to work in Malaysia, ie. getting a Malaysia work permit.

As a foreign national, before you can work in Malaysia, you must first find a Malaysian company who is willing to hire you. Afterward, your employer has to apply for a Malaysia work permit on your behalf.

If the authority bodies in charge of issuing work permission for foreign employees endorse the application, only then can you start working in Malaysia.

Additionally, there are different types of Malaysian work permits based on the profession and duration of work.

What are the types of Malaysia Work Permits?

The Malaysia work visa types which the Malaysian government issues to foreign nationals are:

The Employment Pass

A Malaysia Employment Pass is issued to foreign nationals who will work in a Malaysian company in a highly skilled position, such as a technical or managerial position.

Before you can receive an Employment Pass, your employer in Malaysia has to get approval by the Expatriate Committee or a relevant regulatory agency to hire you.

This type of Malaysia work permit can be issued for 1-5 years, depending on the specific case or work duration, and it is renewable.

The Temporary Employment Pass

The Malaysia Temporary Employment Pass is issued for an employment duration of up to two years. It is issued for the following two categories:

  • Foreign Worker Temporary Employment Pass, where the foreign national is only allowed to work in the following categories: Manufacturing, Construction, Plantation, Agriculture and Services. Additionally, only nationals from approved countries can receive this type of Pass.
  • Foreign Domestic Helper (FDH) Temporary Employment Pass, which is only issued to female workers from approved countries. The foreign worker in this case would work in the home of her employer, provided that the employer has young children or elderly parents who need taking care of.

The Professional Visit Pass

The Malaysia Professional Visit Pass is issued to foreign nationals who want to come work in Malaysia temporarily (up to 12 months), but who are still hired by a foreign company.

The conditions for getting a Malaysia work visa

The conditions for obtaining a Malaysian work visa differ based on the type of work permit you are eligible to receive.

For the Employment Pass, you must have the proper qualifications for the post you will be occupying (diploma, certificates) as well as relevant work experience. The monthly salary should be a minimum of RM3,000 per month, and in certain categories, RM10,000 per month.

For the Temporary Employment Pass there are conditions depending on your nationality and age which you must meet. For example, you must be between the ages of 18 and 45 and from certain approved countries. Additionally, to work as a Foreign Domestic Helper, you must be a woman and between 21 and 45 years of age. The TEP does not require any specific qualifications which are considered highly skilled.

For a Professional Visit Pass, you can only work in Malaysia for a specific period of time, and you have to be employed by a non-Malaysian organization. Therefore, the eligible categories of work under this type of work permit include foreign artists, film workers, religious workers, government workers, students undergoing training, guest lecturers or volunteers. In this case, you do not need an employer in Malaysia, but a sponsor.

How to get a Malaysia work visa?

It is your employer who has to apply for a Malaysia work permit on your behalf. They must submit an application with the Immigration Department of Malaysia. Once the Immigration Department approves the application, you may travel to Malaysia or apply for a visa with reference if you are a visa-required national.

1. Applying for Expatriate Post or Quota Approval

Your employer has to apply for an Expatriate Post from the Expatriate Committee (EC) or another relevant authority agency before they apply for your Employment Pass.  The Malaysian government has appointed the following agencies to be in charge of approving Expatriate Posts:

  • Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) for the sectors of manufacturing and services.
  • Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) for the technology sector.
  • Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) for the sectors of finance, insurance, and banking.
  • Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp – BC) for the sector of biotechnology.
  • Securities Commission (SC) for the sector of securities and futures market.
  • Expatriate Committee (EC) for sectors other than the ones mentioned above.

Your employer has to apply for quota approval if they want to hire you with a Temporary Employment Pass. The Local Centre of Approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of issuing quota approvals.

If one of these agencies approves the expatriate post or quota, your employer has to submit an application for the Malaysia work permit at the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

2. Approval of Malaysia work permit

The Immigration Department of Malaysia has to approve your work permit application before you can arrive in Malaysia. If your application is approved, you will receive a visa approval letter, which allows you to travel to Malaysia.

This is where the process changes, depending on your nationality. If you are from a visa-required national, you must obtain a Malaysian entry visa (visa with reference) from the Malasyian Representative Office nearest to you (Embassy/Consulate).

3. Applying for Malaysian work visa (visa with reference)

Visa-required nationals must apply for a Malaysia Visa With Reference from a Malaysian Embassy or Consulate to be allowed entry to the country. A Malaysian Visa With Reference means that the applicant had to get the visa approved by the Malaysia Immigration Department before they could apply at an Embassy/Consulate.

Visas Without Reference, on the other hand are tourist visas, and they are issued by the Embassy/Consulate itself without needing approval from the immigration Department.

If you are not a visa-required national, you can travel to Malaysia with your Visa Approval Letter.

See below whether you need a visa to enter Malaysia for employment purposes.

4. Getting your work permit issued

After you arrive in Malaysia, you must submit your passport and pay for the Pass at the Malaysian Immigration Department. They will process your application and issue you with a sticker on your passport and a work permit card. You can start working.

Who needs a Malaysian work visa (Malaysia Visa With Reference)?

Only the citizens of countries mentioned below are exempt from applying for a Visa With Reference:

Antigua and Barbuda Australia Bahamas Barbados Belize
Botswana Brunei Canada Cyprus Dominica
Fiji Gambia Grenada Guinea Republic Guyana
Ireland Jamaica Kenya Kiribati Lesotho
Liechtenstein Malawi Maldives Mauritius Namibia
Nauru Netherlands New Zealand Papua New Guinea Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Seychelles
Singapore Solomon Islands South Africa Swaziland Switzerland
 Tanzania Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tuvalu United Kingdom
Vanuatu Western Samoa Zaire Zambia Zimbabwe


If you are not a national of a country mentioned above, you will have to apply for a Malasyian Visa With Reference at a Malasyian Representative Office that is nearest to you.

Can you bring your family members with a Malaysian work visa?

Only holders of Employment Passes are allowed to bring their family to Malaysia with them. If you’re an EP holder, you can bring the following family members through the Malaysia Dependent’s Pass:

  • Your spouse
  • Your dependent children under 21 years old

Additionally, through the Long Term Social Visit Pass, EP holders can bring the following family members to Malaysia:

  • Dependent children over 21 years of age (adopted or biological)
  • Spouse

The following family members can visit an EP holder through a Social Visit Pass:

  • Parents
  • Common Law Wife
  • Children over the age of 21
  • Stepchildren

If your spouse wants to work, their Dependent’s Pass won’t automatically allow them to do so. They must apply for their own work permit.