It’s been a momentous few months, starting with a seemingly innocuous virus a few thousands of miles away towards the end of 2019. It was very easy then to momentarily commiserate with the Chinese, dismiss this as a problem on the other side of the world and to get back to our lives. And get on with my life I did!
I hadn’t surfed for a year and an invite to surf some secret spots off the coast of West Java was too tempting to pass up despite being in the midst of a merger/acquisition. To cut a long story short, I went on my adventure, started this article during my travels, completed the sale of my client’s company remotely despite the constant connectivity disruptions (much to their relief), flew out of Indonesia before any flight cancellations and travel lockdowns, got back to the centre of my universe, which is my very able team at the office. And this all happened a few days before our own Malaysian MCO (Malaysia Movement Control Order) was implemented. For this, I give thanks to the Universe (my wife and my very able colleagues)!
The recent lockdown, movement control or social distancing highlighted the importance of technology. Home entertainment and working from home, previously taken for granted, suddenly became critical. Companies such as Activision, Zynga, Zoom, Webex, Netflix, Disney, Fastly and Teladoc, already household names in the investment world, gained global attention as they came into the lives of the uninitiated in the form of entertainment or tools for working from home. It is, therefore, apropos that I write this article on immigration in Malaysia with a technology context.
This article is really an extension of my earlier article on how I saw the potential of harnessing the know-how of some of my foreign clients around the development of the Malaysian tech sector: https://samchoong.com/2019/09/17/sams-take-malaysias-long-stay-visa/, bringing together my passions: promoting the talented foreign clients I work with, my immigration advisory work and the progress of Malaysia!
In the first article, I wrote about the limitations of the Malaysia My Second Home programme vis a vis harnessing the talents of some tech entrepreneurs who have relocated to or are considering relocating to Malaysia. This is why, in this article, I’d like to focus on the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur programme: https://www.mtep.my where suitable candidates can apply for the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass.
In a nutshell, this programme, overseen by the Malaysia Digital Economic Corporation Sdn Bhd (MDEC) in collaboration with the Malaysian Immigration Department, promotes Malaysia’s Digital economy by attracting the participation of foreign tech entrepreneurs. Two types of Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass are available: a 5-year pass for the Established Entrepreneur and a 1-year pass for the New Entrepreneur. Further details can be obtained by referring to https://www.mtep.my.
This article focusses more on the Established Entrepreneur pass as this is comparable with the MM2H visa and is what my clients would typically look for. Set out below is my take on the Established Entrepreneur Pass:
- Approval is for 5 years, renewable for a further 5 years.
- The usual timeline from application to endorsement of the approval in your passport is 6 weeks although allow for some leeway now because of the MCO.
- The successful applicant can bring in his dependents (spouse and children below 18 years old).
What is required for the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass application:
1) 2-year audited financial statement of the entrepreneur’s current company, which must be in the tech industry;
2) business plan for the business in Malaysia. This should be consistent with what the current company is doing; and
3) a write up introducing the tech entrepreneur and his current company.
What is required after approval of the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass:
MDEC will audit/follow up from time to time to ensure the tech entrepreneur is implementing the business plans in Malaysia. As a guideline, you should at least be able to show some progress.
The differences between the MM2H and Established Tech Entrepreneur Pass MM2H:
1) Show financial means ie. bank statements, etc.
2) Submit Letter of Good Conduct.
3) No reporting to authorities or milestones to achieve. No need to set up an office, hire staff if you don’t find a suitable business venture.
4) You will not be allowed to work on this visa.
5) Visa is for a full 10 years.
6) Have to place RM300,000/- if under 50 years/RM150,000/- if over 50 years into an interest bearing fixed deposit account in a bank in Malaysia for the duration of the MM2H visa after approval. Have to show monthly income equivalent to RM10,000/- and cash to the equivalent of RM500,000/- if under 50 years/RM350,000/- if over 50 years prior to application.
7) Application takes about 6 to 9 months.
Established Tech Entrepreneur:
1) Furnish company documents showing you have the requisite experience of a tech entrepreneur.
2) Submit a tech business plan for Malaysia. Implementation of this will be monitored.
3) Submit Letter of Good Conduct.
4) You must have the ability to work in the company set up in Malaysia (ie. as CEO or Managing Director) as well as be the company owner.
4) Visa is for 5 years and renewable for a further 5 years subject to the authorities being satisfied with the implementation of the business plan.
5) No need to place RM300,000/- or RM150,000/- into a fixed deposit account with a bank in Malaysia.
6) Application takes about 6 weeks to approve (now maybe a little longer due to the MCO).
For more information on the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass and whether you are a suitable candidate to apply, please refer to www.mtep.my
And just in case you’re interested, here’s an article on how Penang ranks for the digital nomad:
Author: Sam Choong
Sam Choong is a lawyer practising in Malaysia. His areas of practice include estate planning, wills and UK inheritance tax for expats residing or seeking to retire in Malaysia.