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Home minister: Grads from 23 countries to get one-year pass to study, travel, and work part-time in Malaysia

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Malaysia will offer long-term social visit passes to international students from 23 low-risk nations — including neighbours Singapore and Brunei — to allow them to stay here for up to a year after graduation, with this new policy to start on December 1 this year, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said today.

Saifuddin Nasution said the pass would enable the students to further their studies, travel, and work part-time in job sectors that are permitted according to the country’s laws.

He said it will be open to citizens from 23 low-risk and high-income countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and the United States.

In a statement today, Saifuddin Nasution said this is one of five Home Ministry initiatives for Malaysia’s new Visa Liberalisation Plan, which will be implemented from December 1 with the aim of increasing revenue for Malaysia that expects tourism to remain a key driver of the country’s economic growth.

Saifuddin Nasution said other initiatives include Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement yesterday of a new policy of 30-day visa-free entry for China’s and India’s nationals travelling to Malaysia from December 1.

Saifuddin Nasution said the 30-day visa exemption for Chinese and Indian nationals will be from December 1 this year to December 31 next year.

As for two other initiatives under the Visa Liberalisation Plan, Saifuddin Nasution said Multiple Entry Visa (MEV) for up to 30 days will be issued to “all tourists who wish to enter Malaysia”, and that there will be issuance of a seven-day umrah transit visa through agencies that are registered under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to handle umrah or Muslim pilgrimages.

The last initiative under the five-initiative plan is to improve the validity period of visas issued by Malaysia from the current three months to six months, and to standardise the eligibility period for Social Visit Passes to a minimum of 30 days for all countries that require visas to enter Malaysia.

Saifuddin Nasution said the implementation of the visa liberalisation plan will be reviewed after one year to assess the return on investment (ROI) to the country, and the effectiveness of the initiatives and to assess security risks on the immigration facilities provided.

“If unexpected incidents occur, this visa liberalisation plan will be reviewed to be improved as preparations ahead of 2025 and 2026.

“This will help the government in refining immigration policies and procedures and ensure the readiness of immigration teams at the country’s entry points to receive foreign tourists in the coming two years,” he said in the statement.

In the same statement, Saifuddin Nasution listed a series of measures that the Malaysian government would take to prevent overstaying by tourists from China and India who enter under the 30-day visa-free scheme, including monitoring their exit from the country by the 30th day and requiring airlines to check that passengers have confirmed return flight tickets home and confirmed hotel bookings for the duration of their stay in Malaysia.

In his Budget 2024 speech last month, Anwar who is also finance minister said that 2026 will be Visit Malaysia Year, with the country targeting 26.1 million foreign tourist arrivals and an estimated domestic spending of RM97.6 billion. He had said the Malaysian government will allocate RM350 million to boost tourism, including to organise the Visit Malaysia 2026 campaign.

In his Budget 2024 speech, Anwar had also indicated plans to introduce new initiatives under the visa liberalisation plan, including to introduce long-term social visit pass for international students in Malaysia who have graduated to meet industrial skilled personnel needs; and to improve visa-on-arrival facilities, social visit passes and multiple entry visa offers “to encourage the entry of tourists and investors, especially from India and China”.

Based on Tourism Malaysia’s statistics, Malaysia’s tourist arrivals had been above 25 million persons annually during the 2012 to 2019 period (with 2014 recording the highest at 27.44 million).

But these figures took a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, with just 4.33 million tourists arriving in 2020, 0.13 million (2021) and 10.07 million (2022), Tourism Malaysia’s figures show.

Based on the latest available data from Tourism Malaysia online, the top 10 countries contributing to the 26.1 million tourist arrivals in Malaysia in 2019 are Singapore (10.16 million), Indonesia (3.6 million), China (3.1 million), Thailand (1.8 million), Brunei (1.2 million), India (735,309), South Korea (673,065), Japan (424,694), Philippines (421,908) and Vietnam (400,346).

Out of the RM86.1 billion tourist receipts recorded by Malaysia in 2019, Singapore’s tourists were the biggest contributors from a country at RM20.547 billion, while China’s tourists contributed (RM15.3 billion) and India (RM3.6 billion), Tourism Malaysia’s figures show.

As for other countries included in the list of 23 nations to receive the one-year pass offer for their citizens who complete their studies in Malaysia as international students, their contribution to Malaysia’s tourism receipts in 2019 include South Korea (RM3.3 billion), Brunei (RM2.8 billion), and Japan (RM2.275 billion).

As for other countries in the 23-nation list, their tourists’ spending in Malaysia in 2019 were the United Kingdom (RM2.1 billion), Australia (RM1.739 billion), Saudi Arabia (RM1.416 billion), the United States (RM1.276 billion), France (RM629.8 million), Germany (RM629.7 million), Canada (RM435.7 million), the Netherlands (RM330.4 million), New Zealand (RM222.6 million), Oman (RM218.1 million), Sweden (RM138.8 million), UAE (RM112.8 million), Switzerland (RM112.7 million), Denmark (RM98.5 million), Kuwait (RM87.5 million), Norway (RM59.7 million), and Finland (RM56.5 million)

Qatar’s and Bahrain’s tourists’ spending in Malaysia in 2019 were not provided individually but were likely included under regional figures instead.