MALAYSIA: New Requirements for MDEC Employment Passes

The Malaysian Digital Economy (MDEC) has announced that from 1st September, they will be implementing new Employment Pass regulations affecting foreign national employees of companies with Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia (MSC Malaysia), or Information Communication Technology (ICT) status.

This means that MDEC will require all Employment Pass applicants to obtain an approval letter before entering Malaysia. Previously, Employment Pass (EP) applicants were allowed to travel to Malaysia as visitors while waiting for their EP application to be approved.

The Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department of Malaysia (MID), another Employment Pass processing agency, implemented the same requirement on 1st August 2016.

What are the key changes?

All applicants will have to obtain an EP approval letter (and a Reference Visa if required, depending on nationality and Employment Pass category) before travelling to Malaysia.

Passports will have to be valid for at least twelve months from the date of endorsement of the Employment Pass.

Dependant Pass and Student Pass holders converting to an Employment Pass III (for an initial stay of up to 12 months) will have to exit and re-enter Malaysia with an approval letter (and Reference Visa if applicable).

Certain existing pass holders applying for an Employment Pass will have to exit Malaysia for a ‘cooling-off period of 90 days’ (from the date of exit from Malaysia) and re-enter with an approval letter (and Reference Visa if applicable). These include EP III holders changing employer within the EP III category; and Social Visit (Temporary Employment) Pass or Professional Visit Pass holders converting to any category of Employment Pass.

An employment Pass holder applying for a Permission to Study stamp will have to apply via the e-Xpats Service Centre of MDEC.

For a child born in Malaysia of foreign national parents, a Dependant Pass application will have to be made within six months of the date of birth. Failing this, a Special Pass will have to be obtained from the Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Department in Putrajaya before a Dependant Pass can be obtained.

A renewal application for a Social Visit Pass (SVP) for a common-law spouse will have to be supported by a new original letter, confirming the relationship, from the respective Embassy in Malaysia. For a child of 18 years and above, a new original letter from the Commissioner of Oaths, as well as a new original letter from the respective Embassy in Malaysia confirming the applicant”s status, will be required.

Employers sponsoring foreign nationals for Employment Passes via MDEC should allow more time before assignees can enter Malaysia, as they will have to wait for their approval letter;

Businesses who hire EP category 1 and 11 holders who were previously employed by another employer in Malaysia should expect a longer transition period than initially expected.


Applicants for Employment Passes via MDEC should ensure their passports have at least twelve months validity from the date of endorsement of the Employment Pass.

It is important that you are aware of all changes affecting certain existing pass holders, and please check the latest status of these changes with an immigration provider in Malaysia.

If you require any additional information regarding Malaysian immigration please contact a member of our team at

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