A guide to the Malaysia Employment Pass work permit scheme

April 23, 2020

Source: zorazhuang/iStock

It’s no surprise that organisations are keen to expand their business operations to Malaysia. As one of Asia’s top business hubs, It is a developed economy with rapidly improving skills, technology and advancing infrastructure.

Home to the 14th biggest natural gas reserve and 23rd largest oil reserves in the world, Malaysia’s energy industry is highly competitive. 

But in order to work in Malaysia, expat workers need a work permit, better known as an Employment Pass. 

Employment Pass

We’ve put together a helpful guide to explain what the pass is, how to apply for one and everything your company must provide for a successful application.

What is an Employment Pass?

An Employment Pass (EP) is a work permit, or visa, that enables expatriates to work in Malaysia. It is primarily available for senior or technically skilled professionals with specialist work experience and who are typically on higher salaries.

The EP provides workers with an employment contract that lasts for up to 60 months and allows them to live and work legally in the country.

An employment pass holder can be employed in West Malaysia, provided the hiring company has successfully registered with the immigration department. Employment passes can be considered for renewal, depending on the necessary requirements.

There are two main types of EP permit in Malaysia:

1. Employment Pass (Category I)

To be eligible for these types of EP, applicants must earn a basic minimum monthly salary of RM 10,000 (USD2,500) and have an employment contract that is valid for a minimum of 12 months.

2. Employment Pass (Category II)

Applicants must meet the minimum salary requirements of RM 5,000 and up to RM 9,999 per month and have an employment contract that is valid for 12 to 24 months.

How do I apply for employment pass approval?

The Expatriate Committee (EC) or relevant authorities in Malaysia, must give approval for foreign professionals to fill a position before the issuance of an Employment Pass can be made by the immigration department

In order for the hiring company to make an application, foreign nationals will need to provide the following:

  • The latest version of their Resume
  • A copy of their passport (this needs to include all pages)
  • A recent passport photo with a blue background
  • A copy of their employment contract (signed and duty stamped by the Inland Revenue Board) and job description
  • Copies of their highest educational certificates (translated into English) and a Certified True Copy (CTC) by the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate General in Malaysia, or the HR head of the hiring company
  • The supporting document from the approving agency or regulatory body (if applicable)
  • Any other documents specified during the application process

Malaysia Employment Pass Graphics

Once all the documents have been received, the Hiring Company will lodge the application form and the review process will begin.

Commonly asked questions relating to EP applications

1. Is it the hiring company or employee that submits the application for an employment pass in Malaysia?

It is the responsibility of the employing organisation to submit the application before you travel to Malaysia. Firstly, they must request approval to hire for an Expatriate Post. Once this is approved, apply via the Immigration Department of Malaysia

2. Are there alternative visa or work permits available?

Yes, for expats seeking a short-term working visa (less than 12 months), they can apply for a Professional Visit Pass. Pass holders can temporarily provide services or undergo practical training with a Malaysian company on behalf of an international firm.

3. Can I bring my family to Malaysia, if I have an employment pass?

Yes, EP holder will also be able to bring their spouse and children with them using a Dependent Pass

Their parents, parents-in-law and unmarried children over the age of 18 will also be permitted, using a Social Visit Pass (Long Term).

4. How long does it take to process an employment pass application?

EP permits are typically processed within 5 working days, once all the relevant documents have been received. 

Once approved, the EP will be issued to the Hiring Company and you are now eligible to travel to Malaysia and commence employment.

Once you are in Malaysia your new employer has seven days to submit your passport to the Immigration Department of Malaysia for them to stamp your passport with the EP details. Once stamped, you can remain and work up until the EP expiry date, unless its terminated earlier.   

Are you looking for support with employment passes, expat visas or work permits?

Working alongside a global employment specialist like Airswift, simplifies the process of applying for employment passes or visas in Malaysia - or any of our locations

Find out more about Airswift's experience and business services in Malaysia

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This post was written by: Nic Taylor, Malaysia Country Manager