Expat News – February 2011

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Expats who have recently collected their employment passes will probably have noted that they have not been given the expatriate IKad (ID card). If you are renewing your work permit, then you can hold onto the old one but if you are newly arrived you have to do without. For several years, spouses and dependents have been told they will also get one but that has not happened.

Malaysia My Second Home visa holders have been similarly frustrated by their inability to get an ID card despite many assurances that issuance was imminent. The latest round of “technical difficulties” with their ID cards, has lasted nearly two years.

In our latest discussions with Immigration, it seems they really do have serious problems with their vendor, which has forced them to suspend issuance. We had thought, perhaps too cynically, that it was the result of a genuine reluctance to issue foreigners with ID cards, but, apparently, that is not the case.

It does, of course, beg the question why can’t these problems be resolved after so many years. Why not choose another vendor, one with a track record of producing them in other countries?

Anyway it looks like all expats will continue to have to be patient on this issue.

One solution to avoid carrying a passport is to photocopy the critical pages, the information page and your employment or resident visa chop, preferably in reduced size. You can then laminate these. Expats who have done this say they are usually accepted when they are asked for ID, or at least until they can go home and get their original passports.

The Immigration department is getting stricter on renewing MM2H visas. They now insist all documents must be originals and not certified true copies which were accepted in the past. Applicants must also bring certified true copies but without the original documents there will be problems.

As usual these changes were made immediately and without the prior notification we have regularly asked for. It seems making the Immigration achieve the “foreigner friendly” status is still in the future.

Despite assurances that MM2Hers would be renewed on the same terms as when they originally applied, we recently had a client who was approved without the need for a Fixed Deposit but Immigration is now insisting that he make a FD as the value of his income has dropped in Ringgit. We have appealed this, but at this point it seems that they are taking a firm stand.

Our CEO, Andy Davison, was asked to submit two papers to the Prime Minister. One was on suggested improvements to the Malaysia My Second Home programme and the other was on a plan to attract more Regional HQs to Malaysia. It’s no great secret that the MM2H programme is not working very well. For the last few years, approved applications ran at just 1500 a year, much less than reported take up on similar programmes in other countries. Perhaps even more concerning is the many complaints from applicants and visa holders, usually due to the frequent rule changes.


We have proposed that the programme be refocused and positioned as retirement programme and not try and also attract other segments such as foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

By targeting very different segments, the rules are not appropriate to each group and it becomes quite hard to market the programme. By amending the programme’s terms and conditions to attract retirees, we are sure it will see a lot more applicants. This will enable it to make a significant contribution to the Malaysian economy.

We also feel there is real opportunity to bringing more multinationals’ regional HQs to Malaysia and are proposing a different approach to getting them to come here. It remains to be seen if there is any interest.

The Government has announced they will be issuing a new, ten-year visa, which will be issued to the individual and not the company which employs them. This will allow the expat to change jobs freely and avoid the difficulties currently faced by expats when they wish to change jobs.

The exact terms and conditions for this visa and the criteria to obtain it are still being worked out and we have been advised that details should be announced this April. We will keep you advised.

Email us at [email protected] with your questions and comments about these news items.

This article was written by The Expat Group ([email protected])
Source: The Expat February 2011

This article has been edited for|
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