Saturday, June 18, 2011

Permanent Residency (PR) : How Can?

Any expat who has lived in Malaysia for several years will receive inevitably the question from friends "Why don't you try for PR (Permanent Residency)?"  Well, why not?

This question has been put to me many times before, but recently an added impetus came from my current employer when it was stated that I needed to consider PR if there was a chance of contract extension next year. Thus it was that I took it upon myself to research the PR process.

Last year, Malaysia seemingly relaxed its standards for PR as stated by the Prime Minister in his 2010 budget.  There are now SIX categories of eligibility under which a person may apply.

Category One : Filthy Rich
An individual who puts US$2 million (current exchange rate = RM6 million) into a fixed deposit into any bank in Malaysia will be granted the opportunity to apply for PR status.  This is still no guarantee, however, as it clearly states on the bottom of the PR application form (IM.4) "Even though you may have fulfilled all the conditions, your application may still be rejected if the government is not satisfied with your application."

But, hey, with RM6 million of your money available for Malaysians to borrow from your bank, your chances are probably pretty good.  Fixed deposits currently pay around 2.75% annual interest.

Category Two : Expert (Highly Talented/Highly Skilled Individual)
An individual who is classified as "world class" in terms of talent, expertise, and skills will be granted PR within 24 hours after application if some international organisation recognises them as such.  Huh?  Who, praytell, could fit this category unless it was someone world-reknown (and rich) like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Jean Todt?  Well, the latter has actually taken up Malaysian PR and it certainly helps that Formula One racing (of which he headed up Team Ferrari for a period) is quite popular with the Bigshots.  And he is married to Malaysia's own Michelle Yeoh.  (That qualifies him under #4 below.)

Category Three : Professional (Outstanding Skills in Any Field)
Similar to #2, this individual needs a Malaysian ministry to vet that they are a professional of outstanding skills, and also (like #2) requires that a Certificate of Good Conduct is obtained from their home country.  Unfortunately, this category does not provide an easy path for the trailing spouse who must qualify for PR on his or her own merit, or wait five years, playing the Visa Run Game of which expats tire after several trips.

Category Four : Married to a Malaysian Citizen
Fairly self-explanatory, my darling non-Malaysian wife won't let me consider this avenue for PR!

Category Five : Returning Expert Programme
This is for the spouses of Malaysians who have been residing overseas for several years.  It is part of the inducement for Malaysians to come back and help build Malaysia.  This is the same as category #4 (married to a Malaysian) except that instead of waiting five years to receive PR, this category will give PR to the trailing non-Malaysian spouse in only one month!  They really want you orang Malaysia yang tinggal di luar Malaysia balik cepat!

Category Six : Point System
This is the most interesting category since it gives hope to the seemingly hopeless, who don't qualify under #1-5.  Basically, there are 120 points spread over 7 criteria:
Age (Max 10 points)
Academic/Professional Qualification (Max 20 points)
Malay language proficiency (Max 10 points)
Relationship ties with Malaysians (Max 30 points)
Length of stay in Malaysia (Max 10 points)
Investment in Malaysia (Max 30 points)
Employment/work experience in Malaysia (Max 10 points)

To qualify for PR, one must obtain at least 65 points from the seven criteria.  This may sound fairly easy initially, but an online calculator (here) reveals the difficulty when you consider that 50% of the points are in two categories: Relationship ties and Investment.

I performed a variety of calculations using the online calculator and found that it is nearly impossible for someone to qualify under the points system unless:
1) Your father and/or mother are Malaysian citizens or PR themselves;
2) You employ over 31 Malaysians in a business that you establish.

Since neither of my parents are Malaysians, I looked more closely at the Investment option.  Even if I nailed 10 points from each of the other five categories (which I couldn't; I don't hold the PhD), I would still need 15 points from the Investment option.  Of these 30 points, fully 50% of them (15 points) are earned by employing Malaysians: 5 points if employing 31 to 50 Malaysians; 10 points if employing 51 to 100; and a full 15 points if employing over 100 Malaysians.  (Clearly the government is looking for someone else to employ the thousands of graduates whom the government will not be able to employ.)  In lieu of that, one would need to invest more than RM500,000 in a house, AND over RM500,000 in a fixed deposit, AND over RM500,000 in a business.  It has to be the combination; each category has a maximum of five points with nothing to be gained over RM500k.
Wow.  So the point is, unless you marry a Malaysian, travel back in time to force your parents to move to Malaysia and become residents, or have lot$ of $pecial $tuff, your chances of PR are pretty low.


  1. This issue of PR is really interesting. I married a Malaysian wife and to gain PR I must pay RM1,700 for a one-year visa (I'm British), after which renewing it for a further four years (at RM90 per year). Then apparently, I'll be eligible for PR status.

    Simply being married to a Malaysian does not qualify me at all!

    Duncan In Kuantan

  2. True, it will take at least five years, probably longer. But, not being married to a Malaysian means NEVER being able to get PR. If someone has US$2 million to stick into a fixed deposit, wouldn't they choose a different country?

  3. BTW, Duncan, I am linking to your Kuantan blog. You post a lot more than I do so the info is helpful and appreciated.

  4. I don't know. Malaysia is a nice country to live in if you have all that money or if you're retired. I'm very fortunate to be living here as a 28-year-old!

    Thanks for linking to my blog, and hope you enjoy it!

    Duncan In Kuantan

  5. No need to marry to get a PR ...

  6. I am married to a Malaysian citizen for 5 years with a kid. I am quite young, have a phd, with professional teaching experience,lecturer at a university. I am still on what they call "long term social VISIT(!!!) pass" (spouse visa) which I have to extend yearly. what do you advise me to get the PR? point-based or spouse? apparently the pr through marriage could take up to 20 years still not guaranteed. and this point based system, hmmm, not much information about it and the calculator you provided in the text has been removed (no access to the page/) from the immigration's website (as expected)