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Expat News – January 2011

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In recognition of the Malaysian Government’s plans to attract more foreigners to Malaysia and liberalise the rules on visas and work permits, we are introducing this news section to keep resident and prospective expats updated on news affecting them working or living here.

Spouses Working Visas

There has been a major change for expat spouses who would like to work. They no longer have to apply for a work permit but can get an endorsement from the Immigration Department to work using their existing dependent visa. It is not entirely clear what jobs would qualify for them to receive this endorsement, but it is a positive move forward for the many spouses who would like to offer their services but previously found it too difficult.

You can find more details on the Immigration Department’s website at www.imi.gov.my/index.php/en/expatriate/ facilities-for-depandant

Rules For Working With MM2H Tightened

There is bad news for people wanting to work here under the Malaysia My Second Home programme (MM2H). However, the prospect of better news to come seems distinctly possible.

At the beginning of last year, the Immigration Department announced two changes in respect to MM2Hers who wanted to work. They could work part time, up to 20 hours a week, providing that the employer applied for approval. Unfortunately, the approval procedure is quite onerous and has dissuaded most companies from making the effort.

The second change said MM2Hers could work in their own business and no mention was made of any approval. Naturally, this was assumed to mean that they could work in their own company.

Recently the Immigration Department advised this was not the intention. In fact, the Department advised that MM2Hers could not work in their own company, but they could set up a company and serve as a Director but could not be involved in the day-to-day business. If they wanted to work in the company, they would have to give up their MM2H visa and get a work permit. If they wanted to switch back to the MM2H programme, they would then have to reapply to the programme.

This was surprising and disappointing news, especially for MM2Hers who had set up their own companies so they could work here. We have protested this change but currently to no avail.

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The new Government Transformation Programme and Talent Corporation (see article below) believe these new rules are too restrictive. It seems quite possible that there will be a lifting of these restrictions, so older MM2hers are free to work. The details have not yet been finalised, but we will keep you advised.

Talent Corporation To Be Set Up This Month

The Greater KL/Klang Plan includes strategies to attract many more multinationals to set up business in Malaysia. This plan forecasts a population growth of some four million people by 2020. This includes attracting about 500,000 people living outside of Malaysia, and this effort will be led by a separate company called Talent Corporation. Around 30% of the people they plan to attract back to the country are Malaysians or former Malaysians who currently live overseas. The other 70% (350,000) are working expats and their families. This plan represents a huge increase to the expat population living in Malaysia.

The Greater KL Plan also includes fairly dramatic changes to KL’s infrastructure, including cleaning the Klang River, making many more pedestrian walkways, implementing a beautification programme and improved waste management system. The ambitious objective is to make KL one of the world’s best cities to live in or visit.

A key change is in the role of the Immigration Department. In the past, many expats have told us woeful stories about their experiences with the Immigration Department: problems they had with work permits, long term spouse visas, MM2H visas and the virtual impossibility of acquiring Permanent Residency.

Historically, it seems that the immigration staff have seen their primary role as keeping foreigners out but that seems like this is about to change. There will be a considerable liberalisation to the rules affecting most foreigners who would like to come and work here. Talented expats are going to find getting PR a lot easier, and even the rules for MM2Hers wanting to work here will be simplified.

Of course, at this stage, many expats are somewhat cynical about when these changes will actually be implemented, if ever. We can only say that we really believe things are going to change. Keep reading these pages over the coming months to keep informed about this news.

PR Issues

Thanks to all the expats who responded to our e-mail request for details about any problems you are having getting PR. We have passed most of these to our contacts in the government and are hopeful they will be able to assist. We would like to reiterate that the primary purpose was for the government to understand the issues, but they have promised to try and help.

It may take a while to get answers but we will revert when we hear anything more. Those who wrote to us should feel free to contact us for an update if they have not heard anything by the end of this month.

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

Source: The Expat January 2011
This article has been edited for Expatgomalaysia.com
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