Virginia, US

Nov 07 2018

Work Pass Restrictions Introduced


The situation

The Central Immigration Department of Kuching, Sarawak, has announced that effective October 29, 2018, employers seeking to obtain an Employment Pass (EP) or Professional Visit Pass (PVP) in the regions of Kuching, Miri or Bintulu must ensure those foreign nationals do not hold valid work passes in West Malaysia, Sabah and/ or the Federal Territory of Labuan.


If the employee holds a concurrent work pass in one of these regions, the employer must submit a Work Pass cancelation request and the request must be approved before the employer can apply for a Sarawak EP or PVP. 

The work pass cancelation process involves submission of the original passport to the Immigration Department to cancel the work pass, which could take up to three business days. The foreign national’s travel may be limited while their passport is maintained by the Immigration Department.


The policy was presumably introduced to disallow foreign employees from holding multiple work passes in Malaysia and to encourage employers to hire local Sarawakians. Past practices align with protection of the local workforce as well, as exemplified by a moratorium imposed by the Sarawak Immigration Department on EP applications on behalf of employees in the oil and gas industry in August 2016; and the enforcement of the rule to advertise available positions for EP applications filed in Kuching without any exceptions or exemptions in September 2016.

Looking ahead

Fragomen projects that other regions in East Malaysia will adopt this restriction as well. Fragomen will report on developments as they occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to