Immigration: Foreign Workers in Malaysia

Types of Passes

There are basically four (4) types of ‘passes’ available to foreign nationals for work-related purposes. These passes are as follows:-


(i)                 Employment Pass

An employment pass is issued to a foreigner who is categorized as an Expatriate who works for a company, government, or non government agency or statutory body. There is a minimum salary, and the contract of employment should be for a period of no fewer than two (2) years. Although there is no specific definition as to who will qualify as an expatriate, typically it applies to investors, skilled workers, professionals, and senior management in corporations.


(ii)               Visit Pass (Temporary Employment)

A Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) is issued to skilled and semi-skilled foreign general workers. This pass is for short term employment of fewer than two (2) years, issued on a year-to-year basis, for the sectors such as manufacturing, construction, plantation; and service (eg. Domestic maid, pump attendants, and restaurants).


(iii)              Visit Pass (Business)

An expatriate who enters the country for short term work related purposes. The BusinessPass is usually valid for three (3) months and renewable upon departure and re-entry.


(iv)               Visit Pass (Professional)

A Visit Pass (Professional) is issued to a foreigner on a short term (9 to 12 months) visit who enters the country on specific professional purposes i.e, as:

  • Artist, musician, performer, sportsman
  • Experts in installation and commissioning of machineries
  • Missionaries and mission workers; and
  • Academics, researcher, or speaker.


Approval of Employment Pass of Expatriate


(a)                The sponsor/employer company will have to be approved with expatriate post. The approval is made by a committee comprised of the respective ministries/agencies and the immigration Department. The Committee will evaluate if such a post should be held by an expatriate based on the job specifications, functions and feedback from the Ministry of Labour on the available workforce in Malaysia.


(b)         The sponsor company may then proceed to apply for the Expatriate candidate to be issued an employment pass. The Immigration Department will issue the employment pass to the candidate upon being satisfies that the candidate fulfills all the criteria set out for that expatriate post.


(c)                Upon obtaining the above approval, an application for the issuance of the employment pass may be made by submitting an application form accompanied by a cover letter addressing the following information :


  • Particulars of the applicant company;
  • The company’s employee date according to category/ salary;
  • Particulars and job functions of expatriate post applied for;
  • Justification for the expatriate candidate to hold the post; and
  • Organization chart.

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