Recently, I have been asked these 2 questions regarding Malaysia’s My Second Home (MM2H) program—a popular choice for long-term residency in Peninsular Malaysia.
- Have the proposed relaxations been implemented?
- What are the latest guidelines?
This is not to be confused with the Sarawak MM2H or Sabah MM2H variants that have been more popular lately.
Regrettably, as of the time of this writing, the answer to the first question is “not yet,” and for the second question, the response is “we’ve yet to be informed”.
So, naturally, this leads to the following questions:
1. When can we expect to learn about the new, more lenient guidelines?
This question ventures into the realm of speculation, and as a lawyer, I’m usually reluctant to offer speculative answers.
However, in response to the overwhelming interest and to assist potential MM2H applicants in their planning, I’ll make an exception and attempt to provide an estimate for question 1.
As for question 2, I’d rather leave it to the official announcement, but I can confidently say that the financial requirements are anticipated to undergo a significant reduction.
Before we dive into my best guess for the first question, let’s revisit the sequence of events for context.
New, Hasher Guidelines
The Ministry of Home Affairs announced new, harsher guidelines before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the temporary suspension of the MM2H program.
The program was reinstated approximately a year later, on August 11, 2021, under the sole jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, with minimal involvement from the Ministry of Tourism.
To summarize, the stricter criteria demanded that MM2H applicants:
- Spend a minimum of 90 days per year in Malaysia, a requirement that didn’t exist previously.
- Demonstrate a minimum monthly income of RM40,000, a significant increase from the previous RM10,000 per month.
- Exhibit liquid assets of RM1,500,000, compared to the previous RM350,000 (for applicants over 50 years old) and RM500,000 (for those under 50 years old).
- Place a fixed deposit of RM1,000,000 in a Malaysian bank, up from the previous RM150,000 (for applicants over 50 years old) and RM300,000 (for those under 50 years old).
Concerns & Criticism
Numerous stakeholders, including MM2H agents, property developers, and politicians, expressed apprehensions about these new guidelines. There was a prevailing fear that they might discourage MM2H applicants and have a negative impact on the Malaysian economy.
Shift to Sarawak MM2H
Owing to the heightened financial requirements and the suspension of the MM2H program, many prospective MM2H applicants looking to reside in Peninsular Malaysia opted for the less stringent Sarawak MM2H.
New Government and Promises of Relaxation
Following the general elections on November 19, 2022, Malaysia witnessed a change in government, with Pakatan Harapan, a left-leaning political party led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, taking the reins. This coalition comprised parties with more liberal policies, offering hope that the MM2H criteria would be revised. This optimism was confirmed by the Minister of Tourism’s announcement in April 2023 that the MM2H criteria would indeed be relaxed.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed the announcement made by the Minister of Tourism in his 2024 budget presentation in October of this year.
2. When Can We Expect Implementation?
A new MM2H centre has been established within the Ministry of Tourism, seemingly for processing MM2H applications, while the Immigration Department has temporarily halted the processing of MM2H applications.
Based on these developments, my current advice to clients is to anticipate the release of the new guidelines no earlier than the end of 2023.
The expected delay is because the bureaucracy remains the same despite having a government more inclined towards foreign investments.
Drawing from my 32 years of legal practice and observing the cadence of government processes, implementation will take some time.
For example, the official announcement of the MM2H program’s suspension for “improvements” on August 4, 2020, and its reinstatement on August 11, 2021, took over one year.
Moreover, following the official announcement of implementation details, there’s typically a phase for clarifications and ironing out the kinks of the new system, further extending the timeline.
Nevertheless, if you’re contemplating an application and eagerly awaiting the implementation guidelines, it’s a good idea to start gathering essential documentation such as income statements, your resume, and a Letter of Good Conduct etc.
These standard documents are likely to stay the same, and positioning yourself at the front of the application queue is a wise move, especially when an influx of applications is anticipated.
Catching up with ex-colleagues from Hanoi days