Obtain a Residence Permit in Malaysia

Updated on Thursday 23rd November 2023

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The status of permanent resident offers a number of advantages, among which the ability to reside in the country for an indefinite period of time, without any visa requirements, the ability to work and open a business in Malaysia and acquire property here. One of our immigration lawyers in Malaysia can provide you with information to find out if you meet the applicable eligibility requirements in 2023 and can assist you during the application procedure in order to make sure that you follow all of the needed steps and make the necessary submissions. We are here to help you immigrate to Malaysia.
 Quick Facts  
  Residence permit types

- employment,

- study,

- family reunification,

- medical purposes,

- training,

- investments


Time needed to obtain the residence permit (approx.)

3 to 12 months

Residence permit validity


Documents for obtaining residence permit

- valid passport,

- birth certificate,

- marriage certificate,

- entry permit

Mandatory registrations with state authorities (i.e. with the population/municipality register) Yes


Dependents can join the residence permit holder 


Residency for investment purposes


Naturalization requirements

- knowledge of Malay language,

- living at least 10 years in Malaysia,

- renunciation of foreign citizenship

Citizenship after permanent residence Yes

Seeking specialized and personalized legal assistance for the status of permanent resident in Malaysia can not only speed up the process, because you will receive information on all of the steps, in order, but can also allow applicants to have a higher acceptance rate because the submission will not be rejected on grounds having to do with improper documentation.

Who can apply for permanent residency in Malaysia?

Individuals who want to move to Malaysia in 2023 and wish to apply for permanent resident status in Malaysia must qualify for one of the following:
  • high net worth individuals: open a bank account in Malaysia and deposit at least 2 million USD without withdrawing for five years; the spouse and children of the applicant may also apply for permanent resident status after a period of five years;
  • highly skilled or talented individuals: available for a number of industries, applicants must provide a certificate of good conduct and make the application with the Immigration Department;
  • professionals: similar to the previous category, these are individuals who have outstanding skills and have a recommendation from a relevant Malaysian authority; 
  • the spouse of a Malaysia citizen: individuals married to a Malaysia citizen may apply for permanent residency if they are married for at least five years and they have also lived in the country during this time;
  • based on the points system: a minimum number of points obtained during their stay in the country allows foreigners to apply for permanent residency status.
The first category is usually considered the most advantageous for foreign nationals who have available assets. Those who want to move to Malaysia and apply for residency as high net-worth individuals are usually subject to the least requirements. However, they will require one Malaysian sponsor. Individuals who wish to come and live in the country as experts need to have evident talents or skills in areas like medicine, technology, finance and banking, sports, and others. A recommendation by a relevant foreign authority in their field of expertise is required and it may be the preferred method for individuals who are already known in their field as public experts (even known internationally). A Malaysian sponsor is also required for this category and the same applies to the professional.
Unlike the experts, the professionals will need to have at least three years of experience in their field of work and will need to provide a certificate of competence issued by a relevant authority in the home country. The person who applies as a spouse of a Malaysian citizen will need to have been married for at least five years and must have lived continuously in the country during this period of time as well as have a Malaysia resident visa. For spouses of Malaysian citizens, the following documents are required when making the application for a residence permit in Malaysia in 2023:
  • the filled-in application form and two passport photos;
  • passport copies, both from old and new passports;
  • copies of the spouse’s identity card;
  • copies of the marriage certificate;
  • copies of the children’s birth certificates, if applicable.
Here is an infographic with details on this topic: 

Malaysian permanent resident status comes with a series of advantages for many foreigners who have lived and worked in the country. For instance, a key benefit of obtaining this kind of status is that the foreign citizen can leave and return whenever he/she wants and also work without having to apply for a work permit first.

Other residence permit conditions in Malaysia in 2023

When the spouse of a citizen applies for a residency, then that citizen will act as the sponsor. One of our immigration lawyers in Malaysia can give you information about the checklist for other types of applicants if you want to know more about immigration to Malaysia. The point system for a residence permit is available for those foreign nationals who do not qualify as an investor or experts, professionals, or spouses. The seven criteria for assessment are as follows:
  • age;
  • qualifications;
  • duration of stay in the country;
  • familiarity with the Malaysian regime;
  • the value of his investments in the country (if applicable);
  • work experience and proficiency in the Malaysian language.
The point system applicant is required to have at least 65 points. One of our lawyers can help you calculate the existing points, according to your particular situation. Additional requirements may apply to these categories of applicants. The fact that an individual complies with one of these criteria is not automatic approval. The application, as well as the accompanying documentation,  have to be properly submitted and evaluated and the process is also subject to a certain degree of interpretation from the Malaysian authorities.

Foreign citizens with a high net worth can obtain Malaysian permanent residency by depositing at least USD 2 million in a local bank account. However, the main condition is to not withdraw the money for at least 5 years. Family members are also eligible for a permanent residence permit after living in the country for 5 years.

By working with a lawyer who specializes in these types of submissions, like our immigration lawyers in Malaysia, you can rest assured that the application for Malaysian permanent residency is properly submitted for evaluation. You can talk to an expert at our law firm in Malaysia for clarifications according to your particular situation referring to immigration to Malaysia.

Here is a video presentation with details on this topic:


What is the residence permit application method?

When you are eligible for permanent residency according to the categories described above you must submit a proper application form with the Immigration Department. The applicant and his sponsor (if applicable, usually for the 5th category) are usually required to attend an interview with the Department. For those individuals who apply for the permit as experts willing to permanently live in the country, the application is submitted to the Immigration Department in Malaysia. For those who apply as spouses, professionals, or highly skilled individuals, and based on the points system, the application is submitted to the State Immigration Office.

The experts at our law office in Malaysia can answer your questions regarding immigration, naturalization, and other 2023 conditions for foreigners living in the country.

Skilled and talented citizens from abroad who are recognized as “World Class” by any international organizations can apply for Malaysia permanent residence. Those who receive a recommendation from institutions from Malaysia or a certificate of Good Conduct from the country of origin are also strong candidates.

Looking for a corporate lawyer in Malaysia? You can get in touch with our specialists and discover the legal solutions that could be useful to you. In this sense, we mention that we represent clients in commercial litigation, the creation of joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions, or company policy verifications. We also provide those interested in business management plans, with the help of which company owners can develop their portfolio. Call our team and discover the legal services offered.

Malaysia My Second Home Program – Beneficial for foreigners

Malaysia has implemented a series of programs designed to attract foreigners who want to invest in this country, but also those who are looking for different living conditions and work offers. Malaysia My Second Home Program or MM2H involves a number of benefits, including a 10-year visa, with multiple entries and which also acts as a residence permit in Malaysia. Thus, Malaysian residence pass applicants can benefit from this type of visa in order to gain the status of permanent resident in Malaysia. In addition, family members of the applicant may be part of this program, as they may receive a Malaysia resident visa. Here are other issues related to MM2H that you should consider if you are interested in residency in Malaysia:
  •  Applicants for Malaysian permanent residence must prove that they have sufficient funds to be able to live in this country without resorting to social assistance.
  •  There are also financial requirements for MM2H and residence permits in Malaysia. For example, people up to the age of 50 must provide proof of a monthly income of approximately USD 2,300. Bankable assets worth USD 80,000 apply to persons over 50 years of age.
  •  It is necessary to open a bank account in Malaysia.
  •  Authorities are requesting a medical report stamped and initialed by an authorized clinic in Malaysia.

Please get in touch with our Malaysian immigration lawyers for more information on formalities for permanent residence in Malaysia.

Advantages of Malaysian residence pass

Those who immigrate to Malaysia have good reasons. While some want to work in this country in different fields, others want to benefit from good living conditions and a great climate in general. And in order to complete this picture, the benefits offered by the Malaysian resident visa also come into play. Permanent stay, under certain conditions, the possibility to work in Malaysia without the need for a work permit, open a business, buying a property in this country.

People interested in a residence permit in Malaysia can benefit from the experience of our Malaysian lawyers on immigration issues. We are here to offer you the necessary support to benefit from the best options for your case.

Experts and permanent residents in Malaysia

The category of foreign citizens with experience in certain fields can accept jobs in Malaysia and apply for the Malaysian residence pass. Areas such as agriculture, health, transportation, education, communication, culture, IT&C, social skills, investment expertise, and banking can be accessed by foreigners interested in jobs in Malaysia. What is important to remember is that applicants for Malaysian permanent resident status must prove their experience in the chosen field. For example, surgeons must make a recommendation to the Malaysian Ministry of Health before practicing. We invite you to discuss all issues with our Malaysian lawyers.

Immigration to Malaysia and its implications is the focus of our specialists. With the help of our team of lawyers, you can ensure that the formalities are respected and the documents are prepared. You will thus avoid cases where the visa application can be rejected due to a lack of documents and other incompatibilities. Our lawyers can also help you with obtaining a residence permit.

Malaysia, an optimal destination for investments

The business opportunities in Malaysia are vast, and foreigners greatly appreciate the stable business climate. The diversity offered by Malaysia's open market, the experienced workforce, the number of incentives offered in different industries, the ease with which a company can be established, and the advantageous taxation system are some of the attributes of Malaysia, which can benefit foreign investors. And to get an idea of the economic direction of Malaysia, we invite you to analyze the following statistics:
  1. Most foreign investment is absorbed by the manufacturing sector. In 2020 alone, more than 39% of the total were targeted.
  2. Singapore has invested about 22% of total foreign investment in Malaysia in 2020.
  3. According to the 2020 Doing Business report, Malaysia ranked 12th out of 190 world economies in terms of business climate and conditions involved.
  4. Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, the Netherlands, and the United States are among Malaysia's largest investors.

Why work with our lawyers in Malaysia

In order to be able to eliminate from the start the problems that may appear in the process of obtaining permanent residence in Malaysia, it is recommended to consider the legal advice offered by our experienced specialists. We treat each case with seriousness and professionalism in order to provide the best results. Therefore, you can rely on the help of our experts if you are interested in the Malaysian residence pass and the formalities involved.

When you are ready to take this step, you can reach out to our attorneys who will be able to provide complete consulting services. You can contact us for more information on this subject as well as advice referring to immigration formalities for 2023.