Malaysia Facilitates Top Foreign Talent

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Christina Yeo of TalentCorp met up with YBhg Dato’ Alias Bin Ahmad, Director General of the Immigration Department of Malaysia, to obtain his views on the facilitation of top foreign talent, initiatives launched and the way forward. The Immigration Department is embarking on a transformation programme to improve service delivery in supporting the talent needs of the nation’s economic transformation.

What are Immigration Department’s views on facilitation of top foreign talent?
Talent is expected to play a key role in supporting Malaysia achieve its objective of propelling the economy to a high-income status. We welcome foreign talent to work and live in Malaysia, which offers a host of opportunities for talented foreigners to develop and enhance their experience in key sectors of the economy. The Malaysian Government has rolled out various initiatives and programmes to engage top foreign talent in the long term. At the same time, the Immigration Department is working towards transforming the delivery service.For instance, we have liberalised the issuance of Employment Pass both in terms of tenure and features such as allowing dependent spouses to work in the country. We have also implemented the Residence Pass, which provides top expatriates currently in Malaysia a longer term option of working here. Further improvements are also being made such as the re-introduction of identification cards (i-Pass) in September 2011.

Will the i-Pass be issued for all expatriates?
Who would be eligible?

All expatriates are eligible.The i-Pass will serve as an identification document in lieu of the passport within Peninsular Malaysia, within Sabah or within Sarawak. However, the passport will still be the official travel document for entry and exit out of Malaysia.

Could you please give more details on the liberalisation measures undertaken in the issuance of Employment Pass (EP) that you mentioned?
Previously, there was a tenure limit of 10 years for EP to foreign talent holding executive positions. The EP was also issued on a 2-year renewable basis for less senior roles. There was also a requirement to advertise expatriate job positions to Malaysians which only allows certain job descriptions to be filled by foreigners.

Early this year, we liberalised and relaxed those work permit limitations for top foreign talent in the critical sectors. For example, the tenure limit on work permits and the requirement to pre-identified understudies have been removed together with the need to advertise.

We have also introduced a new category of EP targeted at critical talent. The EP (Category II) enables applicants with a monthly salary of less than RM5,000 and/ or employment contract of less than 2 years in the NKEA sectors to contribute. These initiatives are applicable to all sectors in which Employment Pass is issued.

What is the process for extension of working facilities to spouses of Expatriate Employment Pass holders?
The Immigration Department is aware of the fact that the many spouses of expatriates based in Malaysia are well qualified individuals whose talent has hitherto remained largely untapped. As I mentioned earlier, we have made it easier for such spouses to work in Malaysia. Since 2008, spouses of foreign talent on employment passes seeking to work here are not required to apply for a separate work permit. A simple stamp of “allowed to work” on their dependent pass grants them the freedom to gain employment. All that is required to avail of this facility is a letter of offer from prospective employer, a no objection letter from the employer of EP holder and approval from the regulatory bodies like the Malaysian Industries Development Authority (MIDA), Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and the Securities Commission.

We have made the changes in policy decisions, including the other liberalisation measures mentioned earlier. However, the level of awareness is quite low and the challenge now is to ensure that employers and expatriate spouses know and understand the policy changes. The Immigration Department is working closely with TalentCorp to promote the awareness and encourage companies to facilitate the application process.

The Residence Pass (RP), launched on 1 April 2011, allows top talent a longer option to work and live in Malaysia. It has generated significant interest in the expatriate community. What is Immigration Department’s role and what are your views on this product?
The Residence Pass, which is in effect a 10-year multiple entry visa, gives a welcoming signal to top foreign talent. The pass provides talent the flexibility to work with any employer without having to apply for another pass. The spouse and children (under 18 years old) of the holder will also be awarded the same benefits i.e. the spouse has the freedom and flexibility to work as well.

We are working closely with TalentCorp, the agency entrusted with the implementation of the Residence Pass to facilitate the entire application process. Application can be done online via TalentCorp’s website.


Would the Residence Pass remain valid if the expatriate was to be posted for a stint outside the country?
The Residence Pass has been introduced as a mechanism to retain foreign talent in the country. We do understand that many expatriates working for organisations with a global presence may at some point in time get posted out of Malaysia. That, in my opinion, should not be a problem. The RP provides such talent a foothold or an option of coming back to Malaysia. The Residence Pass would therefore continue to remain valid even in event of the expatriate getting posted out of the country. However, the spirit of RP is to have the expats to remain employed within Malaysia. We shall see this matter on case by case basis.

Source: The Expat August 2011 
This article has been edited for
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