Understanding the Work Permit in Malaysia: A Comprehensive Guide


Malaysia, with its vibrant economy and multicultural environment, attracts many expatriates looking for job opportunities. However, before you can start working in Malaysia, it’s crucial to understand the work permit process. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about obtaining a work permit in Malaysia, ensuring a smooth transition and legal employment.

Types of Work Permits in Malaysia

Employment Pass (EP)

The Employment Pass is the most common work permit in Malaysia for foreign professionals. It is typically issued to expatriates working in managerial, executive, or technical positions. The Employment Pass is further divided into three categories based on the salary and contract duration:

  • Category I: For positions with a minimum monthly salary of RM 10,000 and a contract period up to five years.
  • Category II: For positions with a monthly salary between RM 5,000 and RM 9,999 and a contract period up to two years.
  • Category III: For positions with a monthly salary between RM 3,000 and RM 4,999 and a contract period up to one year (renewable up to two times).

Professional Visit Pass (PVP)

The Professional Visit Pass is issued to foreign professionals who intend to work in Malaysia temporarily. This pass is suitable for those providing services or undergoing training for a period not exceeding 12 months. Common applicants include consultants, technical advisors, and trainers.

Temporary Employment Pass (TEP)

The Temporary Employment Pass is for unskilled or semi-skilled workers in sectors such as agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. The TEP is valid for up to two years, with the possibility of renewal. Employers must adhere to a strict quota system, and the workers are usually sourced through approved agencies.

Eligibility Criteria for Work Permits

General Requirements

To be eligible for a work permit in Malaysia, applicants must meet the following general requirements:

  • Valid Passport: The passport must be valid for at least 18 months from the date of application.
  • Job Offer: A confirmed job offer from a Malaysian employer.
  • Minimum Salary: Meeting the minimum salary threshold relevant to the work permit category.
  • Health Requirements: Passing a medical examination from a recognized clinic or hospital.

Specific Requirements for Employment Pass

  • Qualifications: Relevant educational qualifications and professional experience.
  • Job Position: The position should be managerial, executive, or technical in nature.
  • Company Registration: The employing company must be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

Application Process for Work Permits

Step 1: Job Offer and Contract

Secure a job offer from a Malaysian employer. Ensure that the employment contract clearly states your position, salary, and other terms and conditions.

Step 2: Employer’s Responsibility

The employer must apply for approval from the Expatriate Committee or relevant authority, depending on the nature of the job. This includes submitting necessary documents such as the company profile, job description, and justification for hiring a foreign worker.

Step 3: Work Permit Application

Once the approval is obtained, the employer will submit the work permit application to the Immigration Department of Malaysia. Required documents typically include:

  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Copy of the passport
  • Copy of the employment contract
  • Proof of qualifications and experience
  • Medical report

Step 4: Processing Time

The processing time for work permit applications can vary, but it generally takes around four to six weeks. It is advisable to follow up with the employer or immigration department for updates.

Step 5: Approval and Endorsement

Upon approval, the work permit will be endorsed in the applicant’s passport. The applicant can then proceed to enter Malaysia and begin employment.

Renewal and Extension of Work Permits

Employment Pass Renewal

Employment Pass holders must apply for renewal at least three months before the expiration date. The process involves submitting an application form, a copy of the passport, a new employment contract (if applicable), and a medical report.

Temporary Employment Pass Renewal

Temporary Employment Passes can be renewed up to two times, subject to approval. The employer must submit the renewal application along with relevant documents such as the passport, employment contract, and proof of compliance with the quota system.

Important Considerations


Employment Pass holders can bring their dependents to Malaysia. Dependents include spouses, children under 18, and parents. A Dependent Pass application must be submitted along with relevant documents such as marriage and birth certificates.

Income Tax

Foreign workers in Malaysia are subject to income tax. The tax rate depends on the length of stay and the annual income. It is essential to register with the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia and comply with tax regulations.

Compliance and Penalties

Employers and employees must comply with Malaysian immigration laws. Working without a valid permit or overstaying the visa can result in fines, deportation, and blacklisting.


Understanding the work permit process in Malaysia is crucial for expatriates looking to work legally in the country. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a smooth application process and compliance with Malaysian immigration laws. Always stay informed about the latest regulations and seek assistance from your employer or legal experts if needed. With the right preparation, you can enjoy a rewarding professional experience in Malaysia.

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