Aug 23 2016

Tougher Requirements Take Effect September 1 for Employment Pass Applications Submitted to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)



The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) recently announced a series of new requirements for Employment Pass (EP) applications and related filings that are submitted by employers with Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia status. The new requirements will take effect September 1, 2016.

Longer Passport Validity Requirement:  For both new and renewal EP applications and related filings, the foreign national’s passport – as well as any accompanying dependents’ passports – must have at least 12 months of remaining validity at the time their Stage 2 application is filed. We would advise foreign nationals and accompanying dependents to have at least 15 months of remaining validity on their passports when entering Malaysia to account for the in-country processing times.

Approval Letter Now Required: Foreign nationals and any accompanying dependents seeking to enter Malaysia to obtain an EP (whether in Categories I, II, or III), a Dependent’s Pass (DP), or a Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP) must obtain MDEC’s Stage 1 approval letter before entering Malaysia. This requirement is applicable to Stage 1 approval letters issued on and after September 1, 2016.

New Cooling Off Period: Foreign nationals, and any accompanying dependents, in the following four situations will be required to leave and remain outside of Malaysia for a three-month cooling off period before they can reenter Malaysia for the filing of their Stage 2 application:

  • Employees with EPs in Category III – which are those EPs held by individuals whose monthly salary is between RM 2,500 and 4,999.99 – who are seeking to change employers;
  • Employees with EPs in Category III seeking their fourth EP, either as a renewal or who are changing positions;
  • Employees seeking to convert a Social Visit (Temporary Employment) Pass to an EP, whether in Categories I, II or III; or
  • Employees seeking to convert a Professional Visit Pass (PVP) with the duration of 12 months to an EP, whether in Categories I, II or III.

Reference Visa (VDR) Required for EP in Category III: Existing pass holders seeking to convert their passes (for example DP, PVP, LTSVP and Student’s Pass) to an EP in Category III will be required to exit Malaysia and obtain a Reference Visa (VDR) before they can reenter. As discussed above, these individuals may also be subject to a new cooling off period. This is also applicable to existing employees with EPs in Category III who are changing employers in Malaysia.

EP Holders Seeking to Attend University While in Malaysia: EP holders in Malaysia seeking to take up higher learning studies on a part-time basis at a public or private university in Malaysia will be able to obtain a new passport endorsement called Permission to Study. The Permission to Study application must be submitted by the EP holder’s local sponsor after the employee’s EP is endorsed into his or her passport.

New Process for Children Born in Malaysia: If an EP holders’ child is born in Malaysia, a DP must be obtained for the child within six months from the child’s date of birth. If a DP is not obtained during that time, a Special Pass must be obtained before a DP can be endorsed into the child’s passport. Both the EP holder and the newborn child must be physically present at the Immigration Department to submit the Special Pass application.

Original Supporting Documents Required for LTSVP Renewals: The Long Term Social Visit Pass is sometimes used by family members of EP holders who are not eligible for Dependent Passes. These LTSVP holders will be subject to new original supporting documentation requirements as follows when seeking to renew their LTSVPs:

  • Children of EP holders who are 18 years old or older will require an original letter from both a Commissioner for Oaths and the child’s home-country embassy in Malaysia that confirms his or her eligibility for LTSVP status, that is to say that he or she is unmarried, unemployed and under the custodial care of the principal EP holder.
  • The common law wife of an EP holder will require an original confirmation letter from her home-country embassy in Malaysia as proof of their common law relationship.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers should generally expect longer processing times for EP applications and related filings after September 1, particularly for employees and accompanying dependents to whom any of the circumstances discussed above apply, such as foreign nationals seeking to change employers or EP holders with family members holding LTSVPs rather than Dependent Passes.

Employers should also pay close attention to employees and accompanying dependents holding EPs in Category III in light of the new cooling off period and VDR requirements, especially those who have already renewed their EPs several times. Note that Fragomen may be able to assist visa nationals with VDR applications.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

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