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Work Visa Malaysia: Which Option Is Right for Your Business?

Securing the right work visa is a critical step in tapping into the global talent pool for your business operations in Malaysia. As a business manager, HR professional, or stakeholder, you understand that navigating the world of work visas can be complex.

This comprehensive guide will demystify the options available to you, helping you make an informed decision. From understanding eligibility criteria to evaluating the benefits, we've got you covered. By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of which work visa option aligns best with your business needs.

Types of Work Visas in Malaysia

Malaysia offers several types of work visas, each tailored to specific employment scenarios. Let's explore the key options:

1. Employment Pass (Category I)

  • Description: The Employment Pass (Category I) is tailored for highly skilled foreign professionals who earn a minimum monthly salary of RM10,000 or more. It is ideal for businesses seeking to attract top-tier talent to Malaysia.

  • Key Features:

    • Work Location: Holders of this pass can work in West Malaysia, which includes major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Johor Bahru.

    • Dependant Pass: Eligible for Dependant Passes, allowing the spouse and children below 18 years of age to accompany the pass holder during their stay.

    • Social Visit Pass (Long Term): Family members, including children aged 18 to 25 and parents/parents-in-law, can obtain Social Visit Passes for an extended stay.

    • Eligibility to Hire Foreign Domestic Employees: Businesses can hire foreign domestic help for household assistance.

2. Employment Pass (Category II)

  • Description: The Employment Pass (Category II) is designed for skilled foreign workers earning a monthly salary ranging from RM5,000 to RM9,999. This category is suitable for businesses looking to employ skilled professionals who don't meet the higher salary threshold of Category I.

  • Key Features:

    • Work Location: Like Category I, this pass permits work in West Malaysia.

    • Dependant Pass: Eligible for Dependant Passes, allowing the spouse and children below 18 years of age to join the pass holder.

    • Social Visit Pass (Long Term): Similar to Category I, children aged 18 to 25 and parents/parents-in-law can obtain Social Visit Passes for extended stays.

    • Eligibility to Hire Foreign Domestic Employees: Businesses can hire foreign domestic help for household assistance.

3. Employment Pass (Category III)

  • Description: Employment Pass (Category III) is intended for foreign workers earning a basic monthly salary ranging from RM3,000 to RM4,999. It suits businesses with specific labor needs that do not require highly skilled professionals.

  • Key Features:

    • Work Location: This pass allows employment in West Malaysia but is not restricted to specific cities.

    • Dependant Pass: Unlike Categories I and II, Category III does not provide Dependant Passes, meaning family members are not eligible to accompany the pass holder.

    • Eligibility to Hire Foreign Domestic Employees: Similar to Categories I and II, businesses can hire foreign domestic help for household assistance.

  • Conditions: This pass can be renewed a maximum of two times, subject to review. It is mandatory for successful applicants to obtain a Visa with Reference for entry into the country, which is applicable to countries requiring a visa. Applicants who have entered the country must endorse their EP sticker within 30 days from the entry date.

​Things to note: Approved passes may be granted for a duration of up to 60 months. Your Malaysian work pass allows you to work exclusively for the employer specified in the pass. Should you decide to switch employers, you will be required to submit a fresh application for a new pass, along with all the necessary documentation, once again.

Choosing the Right Work Visa for Your Business

Selecting the appropriate work visa hinges on various factors. Consider the following:

2.1 Skills and Salary Level

When determining the right work visa for your foreign employees, their skills and the corresponding salary level play a pivotal role. Here are some key considerations:

  • Skill Level: Evaluate the skills and qualifications of the foreign workers you intend to hire. If they are highly skilled professionals, an Employment Pass (Category I) might be the most suitable choice, as it is designed for high-skilled individuals earning a minimum monthly salary of RM10,000. This category allows you to attract top talent, such as specialists, managers, and executives, who can contribute significantly to your business.

  • Salary Level: Ensure that the monthly salary you offer to your foreign employees aligns with the requirements of the chosen work visa category. For example, if the anticipated salary falls within the range of RM5,000 to RM9,999, the Employment Pass (Category II) may be the right fit. It caters to skilled workers who can be valuable assets to your organization.

  • Evaluating Qualifications: Consider the qualifications and experience of your foreign hires. Different visa categories have specific educational and professional requirements. Verify that your employees meet the eligibility criteria of the chosen visa to avoid complications and potential rejections.

2.2 Nature of Employment

The nature of employment, whether full-time, part-time, or contract-based, should be in sync with the requirements of the selected work visa category. Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Full-Time Employment: If your foreign employees will be working full-time and on a permanent basis, you'll need to ensure that their employment contracts align with the duration allowed by the chosen work visa category. Employment Pass (Category I and II) usually accommodates full-time, long-term employment.

  • Part-Time or Contract Employment: For part-time or contract-based employment, you may need to explore the flexibility of the selected visa category. Certain work visas might be more suited for short-term or temporary work arrangements. Employment Pass (Category III) could be a choice for specific contract positions.

2.3 Business Needs and Objectives

Consider your business's specific needs and long-term objectives when choosing the right work visa. Here's how to assess your business requirements:

  • Long-Term Growth: If your business aims for sustained growth and intends to retain foreign employees over extended periods, it's essential to select a work visa category that supports this objective. Employment Pass (Category I and II) provides the possibility of a longer duration of employment, up to 60 months and 24 months, respectively.

  • Project-Based Needs: If your business has project-specific requirements or short-term assignments, you may opt for Employment Pass (Category III), which allows for employment contracts not exceeding 12 months. This can be an ideal choice for businesses with fluctuating workloads or project-based hiring needs.

  • Scalability: Consider the scalability of your business. Ensure that the chosen work visa category can accommodate an increasing number of foreign employees, allowing your business to adapt to changing workforce requirements.


Understanding the nuances of work visas in Malaysia is pivotal in facilitating a seamless hiring process for your foreign employees. Should you require further guidance or wish to streamline the process, consider leveraging the expertise of an Employer of Record (EOR) service. GP Outsourcing Asia specializes in providing EOR services, ensuring compliance and administrative ease in the hiring of foreign talent. Contact us today to explore how we can be your trusted partner in building a diverse and skilled workforce in Malaysia. Your journey to global talent acquisition starts here.


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