How does the Malaysian Spouse Visa stack up against Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)?

Posted on Posted in Investments, MM2H, Penang, Retirement, Sabah MM2H, Sarawak MM2H, Spouse visa, Tax

When I first wrote this article in 2020, Malaysia’s main long term visa MM2H programme, Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) which had been very popular amongst retirees and expats seeking a 2nd or even main home from their country of origin, had been put on hold whilst its sister programme, Sarawak MM2H (SMM2H) was still ongoing. It was announced MM2H had been put on hold because it needed “improvement” (See: http://www.motac.gov.my/en/media/release/temporary-suspension-of-malaysia-my-second-home-programme-mm2h). KPMG Management & Risk Consulting was then appointed to conduct a study to facilitate the said improvement.

 

In August 2021, it was then announced MM2H was to be reactivated with more stringent guidelines (see: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/malaysia-my-second-home-mm2h-programme-reactivated-new-applications-be-processed-october-— ). Understandably, the few months which followed were  a time of anxiety and uncertainy both for existing MM2H holders and their MM2H advisers as the Malaysian Home office had initially intended the new harsher financial guidelines to be imposed retrospectively. These proposed revisions attracted widespread opposition as MM2H holders voiced their concerns and industry stakeholders doggedly urged the Home office to reconsider the proposals. The arguments against ranged from the need for consistent guidelines to the potential adverse effects on the Malaysian economy. Fortunately, after weeks of lobbying, the Home office backed down on applying the higher financial criteria retrospectively to existing holders of the MM2H visa (https://www.edgeprop.my//content/1900211/putrajaya-relaxes-rules-existing-mm2h-participants). At the time of this revised article, it has been announced existing MM2H renewals are subject to the revised fees and the minimum 90 day stay in Malaysia (whether there is any leeway for those owning property or if some members of the family are in Malaysia whilst the main applicant fails to stay the 90 days, for example, because he works abroad remains to be seen in the detailed SOPs for implementation which have yet to be issued).

 

For potential MM2H applicants, here are the announced new guidelines:

 

– MM2H is available to new applicants aged 35 years and above and their family (we assume the current guidelines will be adopted ie. Spouse, children under 21 years and the parents of the main applicant above 60 years) the for the duration of 5 years (renewable subject to terms);

– At the application stage, the new applicants must show monthly income of the equivalent of RM40,000/- as well as liquid assets of RM1,500,000/- anywhere in the world;

– Upon approval, the successful applicant needs to place RM1,000,000/- (Add RM50,000 per dependent) into a fixed deposit with a bank in Malaysia for the duration of his visa. 50% can be withdrawn for property purchase, children’s education or for health care reasons;

– Processing fee of RM5,000/- for the main applicant, RM2,500/- for each dependent and RM500 per year levy will be payable;

– The successful applicant must stay in Malaysia at least 90 days each year;

 

Do note the above are broad strokes of the announced guidelines which have been laid out by the Minister of Home Affairs. The detailed SOPs and how the announced guidelines will be implemented have yet to be made known to the Malaysian immigration department. With new policies, there will no doubt be changes along the way even after the detailed SOPs have been firmed up for implementation by the immigration department. Nonetheless, as it’s been awhile and we have had numerous enquiries, and I foresee Malaysia’s borders opening up so I wanted to get this revised article out to you to give you a general idea of what to expect.

The reason for my belief is the Malaysian covid border controls are becoming less stringent. Foreigners including those holding MM2H are finding it easier to return to Malaysia. Malaysians who previously were not allowed to travel abroad for leisure are now permitted to do so if they have been vaccinated and if they follow certain SOPs. In view of these indicators and the recent announcements that the Malaysian borders will be open to international visitors by the 1st of January, 2022 (see: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/malaysia-muhyiddin-covid-19-open-borders-international-visitors-jan-1-2022-2306636 ), it is now timely for us to update our article on Sarawak MM2H.

 

As mentioned above, despite the announcements, the Peninsular Malaysia MM2H with its new financial criteria have yet to be activated for applications to be submitted so I would like to focus on the Sarawak MM2H programme which is ongoing (see: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/sarawak-continue-smm2h-despite-federal-govts-suspension-programme). The Sarawak immigration has distinguished itself as the standard bearer in terms of clarity, ease of use and efficiency  for MM2H applicants and peace of mind for Sarawakian MM2H agents depending on MM2H as their rice bowl. Kudos to Sarawak! In light of this, I wanted to quickly do a short introduction to the Sarawak MM2H and show how it compares with the proposed Peninsular Malaysia MM2H.

Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and the two Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak also known as East Malaysia retain a degree of autonomy under this system. One of these areas of autonomy includes the right to regulate the immigration of their respective states, which is why Sabah and Sarawak have their own version of the popular long stay visa, known as Malaysia My Second Home.

The Sarawak MM2H still remains a viable alternative (from a faster processing timing and lower financial threshold perspective) for foreigners planning their travels as international travel resumes and Malaysia, hopefully opens her borders to leisure travellers.

Here are the main differences/similarities between the announced West Malaysia MM2H (subject, of course, to the detailed SOPs to be advised once our Home office gets their act together) and the Sarawak MM2H:

 

Peninsular or West Malaysia MM2H Sarawak MM2H
NO separate categories for applicants above or below 50 years (Applicants need to be 35 yrs+)

Must show cash of RM1,500,000/- and monthly income of RM40,000/- anywhere in the world prior to the approval and place a fixed deposit of RM1,000,000/- (Add RM50,000 per dependent) in a Malaysian bank after approval.

Separate categories for applicants above or below 50 years.

50 years and above (married couple): must show either a monthly income of RM10,000/- anywhere in the world OR place a fixed deposit of RM300,000/- in a bank in Sarawak upon application.

50 years and above (single): must show either a monthly income of RM7,000/- anywhere in the world OR place a fixed deposit of RM150,000/- in a bank upon application.

40 to 50 years: can be considered if they have children attending school in Sarawak or are themselves undergoing long term medical treatment in Sarawak or invest in a residential property of at least RM600,000/-

30 to 40 years: can be considered if they have children attending school in Sarawak or are themselves undergoing long term medical treatment

 

 

Letter of Good Conduct & Health Insurance Letter of Good Conduct & Health Insurance
Sponsor or security bond Sarawakian sponsor required
5 year visa (renewable subject to terms to be announced, including staying a minimum of 90 days per annum in Malaysia). 5  year visa (renewable subject to terms including staying a minimum of 15 days per annum in Sarawak).
No need to be present at the immigration office on application.

 

Both spouses need to be present in the country upon approval for endorsement of the visa on to their respective passports.

Both spouses must be present on submission of the application if using fixed deposit as the financial requirement. No need to be present if using income.

 

Both spouses must be present on the approval to endorse the visa on their respective passports.

 

No possibility of PR but currently renewable for a further 5 years subject to terms. No possibility of PR but currently renewable for a further 5 years subject to terms.
 

Part time work is permissible, on application, if the applicant possesses special skills. Investment in companies in Malaysia permissible.

Not permitted to work or invest in companies in Malaysia.
 

Parents over 60 years and children under 21 years can come in as dependents.

 

Parents above 60 years and children under 21yrs can come in as dependents.
Typically, 8-12 month approval period after submission of the application. Currently suspended

 

Approximately 90 working days after submission of the application.

Do note that the above are believed to be correct from what can be gleaned from the general announcements as at the date of our revision and may be subject to changes when the detailed SOPs are issued.

For further reading check out:

Ultimate 2022 Guide to MM2H Malaysia My Second Home Visa: StillWorth Applying?

Sam Choong

15th November, 2021

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.

8 thoughts on “How does the Malaysian Spouse Visa stack up against Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)?

  1. Hi Sam,
    Interesting article, thanks. I would also be very interested in seeing a comparison of how does the Investor’s visa compares with MM2H when you have the chance!

  2. Very interesting. I am however wondering what would happen if one comes in under spouse visa with a 17 year old child…what happens when said child turns 18? In light of this it does seem as if MM2H has more leeway with regard to children.

    1. Dear Pravin,

      Good point! There are other possible ways of having a child over 18 yrs old to remain in the country. This would depend on the circumstances and the future plans for the child. You may drop me an email at sam@ckylegal.com if you need to discuss this in more detail.

    1. Hi Karen,

      I believe you are referring to the sponsor part of the spouse visa application. If your spouse does not have an income, you can look for a relative or friend with such income to be the sponsor.

  3. I have been married to Malaysian(still Malaysian) for 9 year and both of us are working and residing in the US.
    I also have MM2H for 9 years and time for renewal. Should I apply for Malaysian spouse visa or just renew my MM2H? Please advise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *