Want To Know How To Be A Permanent Resident In Malaysia?

The 5 ways to become a permanent resident in Malaysia are the investing route, expert skill set, working professional, a spouse of a Malaysian citizen, or via the point-based system.
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For many foreigners who've already carved out a home or career of their own here in sunny Malaysia, obtaining a PR is usually the next step.

But the journey to getting a Malaysian PR can be difficult. And with the multiple residency options available, many may find themselves wondering whether or not obtaining a PR is even worth it. 

We’ve written this guide to answer your questions on what it means to get a PR in Malaysia, and how to go about applying for one.

 

What is a Permanent Resident in Malaysia? 

By definition, a permanent resident is someone who has been granted the right to live in Malaysia indefinitely. The individual is a citizen of another country, but is given the status of permanent resident here in Malaysia.

This means no more Visa renewals, and less boundaries that restrict you as a temporary resident. Of course, less boundaries doesn’t mean no boundaries...which brings us to the next question.

 

Is PR and citizenship the same?

Being a permanent resident in Malaysia means you get to enjoy the perks a Malaysian citizen would have, but you do not possess Malaysian citizenship

Instead, your citizenship remains that of your home country’s. 

Holders of a Malaysian PR are entitled to most of the same rights a Malaysian citizen would have – residing in the country indefinitely, entering and exiting freely, seeking employment, as well as owning a business.

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The biggest thing to note is that unlike citizens, permanent residents are strictly prohibited in engaging in any political activity. Among other things, this means you aren’t allowed to vote, come election time.

 

Is it easy to get PR in Malaysia? 

In this guide on how to get a PR in Malaysia, we’ve broken down quite plainly the steps involved in getting a PR. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that obtaining a PR still remains a very difficult process.

Just ask the multitude of expats who have spent the majority of their lives here, raised children and built careers from the ground up - only to be denied PR status again and again. 

While not a guaranteed assurance, having a solid, strong academic and work background, intertwined with influential connections will help you in proving your capability to contribute productively to Malaysian society.

 

Benefits and Limitations of obtaining a PR in Malaysia

Despite the hassle, you may consider the trouble of obtaining a PR very much worthwhile. Below are the benefits of holding a Malaysian permanent residence, as well as the limitations that comes with it.

Benefits of a Malaysian PR

i) Exemption from visa and Immigration requirements to enter and exit the country.
ii) Ability to reside in the country indefinitely.
iii) Own and operate own business.
iv) Seek employment without need for a work permit.
v) Access to public healthcare.

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Limitations of a Malaysian PR

i) Subject to foreigner terms when purchasing property (read below).
ii) Prohibited from involvement with any political party or association.
iii) Prohibited from voting during election.
iv) PR status may be subject to revocation at any time, if deemed necessary by the government.

Despite not holding true Malaysian citizenship, PR holders still get to enjoy life as a national citizen would.

To go into details, this also means you're taxed according to the brackets that apply to Malaysian citizens, and subject to EPF (Employees Provident Fund) contribution.

As a permanent resident, it’s also worth noting that you or your children should pay “domestic student” fees instead of “foreign student” fees for school tuition.

You're also allowed to pursue work and licensing in professional fields such as medicine, engineering, and law.

 

Who is eligible for PR in Malaysia?

There are many paths towards permanent residence in Malaysia, which we explore below.

However, they all usually share the same basic requirement before your PR application can even be considered: at least 5 continuous years living in Malaysia.

This can be under any legal form of documentation, whether it's on a working visa, or long-term visa. The 5 ways to be a permanent resident (PR) in Malaysia are as below:

  • Investor
  • Expert
  • Professional
  • Point-based system
  • Spouse of Malaysian citizen

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1) Investor

Many countries have immigrant investor programs in place to attract investment and contribute to the development of the country.

In return, these investors are rewarded with a permanent residence, or even citizenship. Malaysia is no exception.

While many assume that marrying a Malaysian spouse can be an easy one-way ticket to permanent residency, high net-worth investors have a much easier time obtaining a PR. 

To invest your way to a PR in Malaysia, you'll need to:

  • Deposit a sum of at least USD2 million into a Fixed Deposit (FD) account at any bank in Malaysia. You may only withdraw this sum after 5 years. 
  • You'll need a good-standing Malaysian citizen to sponsor you.
  • You're able to bring in your spouse and children (under 18 years old) as dependents. After 5 years of stay in the country, they'll also be eligible to apply for PR.

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2) Expert

If you lack the financial capability to enter via the investor route, fret not. For professionals such as licensed lawyers and surgeons, this is also another way to get a PR in Malaysia.

The difference with getting a PR this way however, is that you'll be required to prove to the immigration authorities that your skill set is valuable, and can be of worthwhile contribution. 

This means that apart from official documentation and licensing, you'll also need recommendations for your PR from a relevant Malaysian agency. 

  • First, you'll need to obtain a recommendation from a local Malaysian agency. Below is a list of relevant agencies in Malaysia that issue recommendations for permanent residency.

Agencies

Field Of Expertise

1) Ministry Of Health

Health and medical

2) Ministry Of International Trade And Industries (MITI)/Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA)

Industrial, services and manufacturing

3) Ministry Of Agriculture And Agro-based Industry

Agriculture and agro-based

4) Ministry Of Transport

Maritime, air and land transportation

5) Ministry Of Higher Learning

Higher learning

6) Ministry Of Science, Technology And Innovation

Science, technology, and ICT

7) Ministry Of Information, Communication And Culture

Information, communication, culture, and arts

8) Ministry Of Youth And Sports/Malaysian Sports Council

Sports

9) Central Bank

Banking and finance

10) Securities Commission

Investment and capital

  • Other than a recommendation, you are also required to present a Certificate of Good Conduct from your country of origin. You can get this from the Malaysian High Commission or your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • You will need a good-standing Malaysian citizen to sponsor you.

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3) Professional

But what if you're highly skilled in another field, one that isn’t mentioned in the table above? Does that mean you won't even be considered?

Of course you will! For other professionals, especially those working in a reputable Malaysian corporation, you may also get your company to recommend you for a Malaysian PR. 

  • For this method, the Immigration Department of Malaysia states that you must be a professional with outstanding skills in any field.
  • You must be certified by the relevant agency in Malaysia.
  • You'll need to obtain recommendation from a relevant agency in Malaysia.
  • You'll also need a Certificate of Good Conduct from your country of origin. You can get this from the Malaysian High Commission or your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • You must have worked in any Government Agency or Private Company in Malaysia for a minimum period of 3 years.
  • You'll need a good-standing Malaysian citizen to sponsor you.

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4) Spouse of Malaysian Citizen

No, marrying a Malaysian citizen does not automatically grant you a “red” card. The same goes for buying a property.

For spouses of Malaysian citizens looking to get a PR, you'll need to:

  • Be married to a Malaysian citizen.
  • Already possess a Long Term Visit Pass, and have stayed continuously in Malaysia for a period of 5 years.
  • Your Malaysian spouse has to be your sponsor.

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5) Point-based System

This is an interesting method of obtaining a Malaysian PR, which many not have probably heard of.

It’s a complicated system which calculates your eligibility based on a point system spread over 7 different criteria:

  • Age
  • Qualification
  • Duration of stay in Malaysia
  • Familiarity with the Malaysia Institute
  • The values of investments
  • Working experience in Malaysia
  • Proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia

Below is the in-depth calculation system, though we recommend you visit your state immigration office for more information.

The total points add up to 120, but you'll need a minimum of 65/120 points to be eligible to apply for a PR.

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How much will it cost to get a PR in Malaysia?

The application fee when applying for a PR in Malaysia is straightforward. The upfront fee to merely process your documents is only RM40.

However, whether or not you possess the financial requirements to be considered for a PR is a whole other matter entirely. 

If you’re applying for your PR via the Investor route, remember that you will be required to deposit a sum of at least USD2 million into a Fixed Deposit (FD) account at any bank in Malaysia. This sum can only be withdrawn after a period of 5 years.

If you don’t happen to be a high net worth individual, you are still required to demonstrate that you are in a position of good financial standing and at the very least, capable of supporting yourself financially.

With other “PR alternatives” such as the MM2H, you will also have to submit proof of a minimum benchmark of bankable assets as well as open a bank account with a minimum deposit. Scroll down to the very bottom to read more on these alternatives!

 

How to apply for a Malaysian PR and paperwork needed?

Here's what you can expect when applying for your Malaysian PR. Do note that additional documents may be requested for, based on your individual case. If in doubt, just consult your state immigration office.

  • Submit the necessary documents to the State Immigrations Office. The checklist will be provided to you by the officials.
  • Investors and Experts need submit to the Immigrations Department Headquarters in Putrajaya, whereas those who fall under the remaining categories need submit to their respective State Immigrations Office.
  • Upon application is when you will need to submit your recommendation by the relevant agency (if required).
  • After submission of your documents, you and your sponsor will be interviewed by the Immigrations department.

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Congratulations, you’ve stepped foot down the long and winding path towards getting a PR in Malaysia! After that, it’s just a matter of checking your application status via this link here.

 

Tips to successfully apply for a PR in Malaysia

There’s no shortcut to getting a PR in Malaysia. Even if you’ve got a couple extra million dollars lying around in the bank, there’s still no 100% guarantee that you’ll be able to obtain a permanent residency.

The #1 thing to keep in mind however, is that to be considered for a PR, it’s best if you can prove your contribution to the country in some way or other.

Whether it be by means of foreign capital or a specific professional skill set, it’s best that you’re able to show yourself as a valuable asset to the country; with the black-and-white to prove it!

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Can a PR buy property in Malaysia? 

As a PR holder, you can buy property – but are subject to the same terms and thresholds as foreigners when it comes to buying and investing in property. 

1) The regulations differ by state.

First things first, you need to know that land is mainly a state matter in Malaysia. 

This means that even though you may see announcements such as this one in Budget 2020, where the minimum price threshold for foreigners to purchase high-rise properties was lowered from RM1 million to RM600,000, it doesn’t mean that all states are required to follow it.

It’s not just minimum price either, state governments are also eligible to charge levies on foreign property purchases. 

In short, make sure to review the regulations of your respective state when it comes to buying property as a PR in Malaysia.

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2) You can only buy certain types of property.

Even though you can afford it, you may not be eligible to buy that property you’ve been eyeing on. Malaysia reserves certain lands and properties for certain groups.

The three general categories are stated below, but note that there will most likely be specific restrictions to take note of in your state:

  • Properties built on Malay reserved land
  • Properties defined as low-cost or medium-cost affordable units as defined by the state
  • Properties allocated to Bumiputera groups as part of a development project

3) You can only buy properties with a minimum price tag. 

Price thresholds are imposed on foreigners buying property for multiple reasons, including to prevent conflict with locals’ interests.

Even though you’ll often hear that the minimum price threshold is RM1 Million, the reality is that it varies greatly on many factors.

Luckily for you, our Complete Guide To Foreigners Buying Property In Malaysia spells out for you the foreign property ownership limitations by state.

 

What happens if I stay without a PR?

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Malaysia has plenty of short- and long-term solutions for foreigners to reside and work in Malaysia. 

If you opt for none of them and hold no valid pass or permit to stay in Malaysia, you are committing a criminal offence under section 6(3) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155). 

This offence is punishable by a fine of not more than RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both, and shall also be liable to whipping of not more than 6 strokes.

If you continue to stay in Malaysia after your Visa or permit has expired or been revoked, you are in violation of Section 15(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63. The penalty for this is a fine of not less than RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or both.

 

What is the Immigration Department of Malaysia?

The Immigration Department of Malaysia (IMI) is the official department under the Ministry of Home Affairs who is responsible for all immigration affairs.

These include the issuance, reviewal and renewal of passports, visas, foreign worker and foreign domestic helpers among others.

View all their main services on the official website here, or find your nearest service counter here.

 

You can also seek help from the Expat Social Groups in Malaysia for PR Issues!

You may have heard of nightmare stories where individuals wait for years upon years just to receive a denial for their PR application, with no explanation to boot!

Instead of wasting time making the same mistakes, the best place to find out more is from other expats who have already undergone the process themselves.

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Due to Malaysia’s popular standing amongst foreigners, there are a wealth of expat groups and forums you can peruse! Below are a few examples:

 

Aside from a Malaysian PR, what other options do I have? 

In recent years, there are a few various options which may act as easier, more straightforward alternatives than applying for a PR in Malaysia. Among them include:

  • Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T)

This 10-year multiple entry visa is suitable for skilled professionals who've already been working in Malaysia for some time. Click here to find out more about this employer-dependent pass.

One of the world’s most successful long-term visas, successful applicants under this program receive a renewable 10-year multiple entry visa.

All applicants in Peninsular Malaysia must be sponsored by a Malaysian citizen, or apply for the MM2H visa through a registered agent.

The road to a permanent residency in Malaysia is one which requires patience and tenacity. Do note that despite fulfilling all the basic criteria we’ve outlined here, your application will not necessarily be approved.

If your situation permits, consider other options such as the MM2H Program, which was created with the intention to promote Malaysia to potential residents such as yourselves!

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The employment pass is essentially a work permit, which allows foreigners to work in Malaysia under an organisation and is subject to the contract of employment with a maximum of 60 months. 

As the Employment Pass is tied to the specific employer, a change in employer will also require the holder to resubmit an application.

Eligible Employment Pass holders with a minimum salary of RM5,000 and above may apply for a Dependant Pass for their spouse, children under 18 (including legally adopted children), parents and parents-in-law.

Eligible Employment Pass holders may also apply for Long-Term Social Visit Pass for their children under 18 (including legally adopted children), parents and parents-in-law. This pass permits a temporary stay in Malaysia for a period of not less than six months.

Foreigners married to Malaysians may also be eligible for this pass for a period of five years, and are allowed to be employed too!

  • Visitor’s Pass (Temporary Employment)

Another PR alternative of sorts is the Visitor’s Pass. This option is typically available for  foreign domestic helpers and foreign workers in manufacturing, plantation and agriculture services. 

 

If you’ve got other questions such as how to buy property in Malaysia as a foreigner, check out our guide here!

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