Malaysia to relax visa policy as applications drop

By Hoang Phong    April 22, 2023 | 04:56 pm PT
Malaysia to relax visa policy as applications drop
Tourists gather in front of a giant eagle sculpture at Eagle Square on Langkawi Island, Malaysia, 2018. Photo by Reuters
The Malaysian government has announced it plans to relax requirements of its 10-year visa program following a 90% drop in the number of applicants.

The application process for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program "will be made more flexible," Malaysian tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing said at a recent meeting, as quoted by Channel News Asia.

The visa program, which was launched in 2002, allows foreigners to stay in Malaysia for up to 10 years.

In August 2021, the government imposed stricter conditions, requiring applicants to provide proof of RM1.5 million ($338,000) in liquid assets and a minimum RM40,000 in monthly income.

Previously, applicants only needed savings of between RM300,000 and RM500,000.

The conditions sparked heated discussions among visa holders, who said the new rules are too strict.

Since the conditions were tightened in 2021, the program has seen a 90% drop in the number of applicants, according to data from MM2H Consultant Association.

"If such conditions persist, I believe many expatriates will no longer choose Malaysia and will seek our neighboring countries, which are easier for them to meet the eligibility requirements to settle there," Penang’s State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin was quoted as saying by Bernama.

Several Southeast Asian countries have been vying for wealthy foreigners by launching 'golden visas' with stays of many years.

Indonesia has introduced a new visa available for a period of five or ten years to those who hold at least two billion rupiahs (US$127,174) in their bank accounts.

Thailand's Long Term Residence visa is valid for 10 years and offers multiple entries, but applicants must hold at least $1 million in assets, a validated annual personal income of a minimum of $80,000 for the past two years and an investment of at least $500,000 in Thai government bonds, foreign direct investment or Thai property.

Cambodia also introduced its 10-year "golden visa" program that allows foreigners to apply for Cambodian citizenship after five years and gain access to insurance coverage and VIP medical treatment.

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