Stricter Thai, Singaporean visa policies could benefit Malaysia

By Hoang Phong    August 17, 2023 | 06:09 am PT
Stricter Thai, Singaporean visa policies could benefit Malaysia
Travelers arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, 2021. Photo by Reuters
As Thailand and Singapore prepare to tighten popular visa requirements, foreigners looking to buy property may opt for Malaysia instead where visas are easier to obtain, an insider says.

Global real estate group Juwai IQI CEO Kashif Ansari told the New Strait Times that more difficult Thai and Singaporean visa policies could prompt some RM2.7 billion (US$581 million) in new spending in Malaysia over the next five years as foreigners opt for the country's more convenient processes.

"When other visa programs turn applicants away, Malaysia may benefit," he said.

Singapore’s new rules scheduled to take effect on September 1 will make it more difficult for businesses to hire foreign workers under the popular Singapore Employment Pass visa.

The Singapore Employment Pass is valid for up to two years, and can be renewed for up to three years. This work permit is one of the most widely held permits by foreign working professionals in Singapore.

Thailand also plans to increase the membership fees for its Elite Visa Program that allows holders to enjoy a five-year multiple entry visa.

The current membership fee ranges from 600,000 Thai baht to 2 million Thai baht depending on the package the applicant applies for.

Malaysia is competing with Thailand, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries to attract wealthy foreigners by implementing more relaxed visa policies.

The Malaysian government is considering easing requirements for its 10-year visa program that allows foreigners to stay for up to 10 years.

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