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How to Become a Citizen in Malaysia

Malaysia, a Southeast Asian gem known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and bustling economy, has become an attractive destination for expatriates and retirees seeking a new home. With its modern infrastructure, high-quality healthcare, and affordable cost of living, Malaysia offers an appealing blend of comfort and adventure. For those considering a move to Malaysia, understanding the various pathways to residency and citizenship is crucial. This guide provides a detailed overview of the available options, from temporary residence permits to permanent residency and citizenship.

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Short-Term Stay Options

Tourist Visa

For short visits, a tourist visa is the most straightforward option. Citizens of many countries can enter Malaysia without a visa for stays ranging from 30 to 90 days, depending on their nationality. This visa is ideal for those who want to explore the country before making a longer-term commitment.

Social Visit Pass

A Social Visit Pass allows for longer stays of up to 90 days and is commonly used for social visits, family visits, and attending meetings or conferences. This pass is extendable under certain conditions and can be an excellent way to stay in Malaysia while exploring long-term options.

Long-Term Residency Options

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Program

The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program is one of the most popular routes for expatriates seeking long-term residency. This program is designed for foreigners who wish to stay in Malaysia on a long-term basis (up to 10 years, renewable).

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be 35 years or older.

  • Financial Requirements: Applicants need to demonstrate financial solvency. For those under 50, a monthly offshore income of RM 10,000 and RM 1 million in liquid assets are required. For those over 50, a monthly offshore income of RM 10,000 and RM 500,000 in liquid assets.

  • Fixed Deposit: Successful applicants must place a fixed deposit of RM 1 million in a Malaysian bank (reduced to RM 500,000 for those over 50).


  • Multiple-entry visa with a validity of up to 10 years.

  • Ability to bring dependents (spouse, children under 21, and parents over 60).

  • Eligibility to purchase property in Malaysia.

  • Access to the country's excellent healthcare and education system.

Employment Pass

For professionals and skilled workers, the Employment Pass (EP) offers a pathway to long-term residency in Malaysia. This pass is typically issued for a period of 2 to 5 years and is renewable.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Job Offer: A valid job offer from a Malaysian company.

  • Minimum Salary: A minimum monthly salary of RM 5,000.

  • Qualifications: Relevant academic qualifications and professional experience.


  • Work legally in Malaysia.

  • Possibility to bring dependents.

  • Potential pathway to permanent residency after continuous employment.

Professional Visit Pass

The Professional Visit Pass is designed for foreign nationals who wish to work in Malaysia on a temporary basis. This pass is issued for a maximum period of 12 months and can be renewed.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Temporary Employment: Suitable for consultants, trainers, researchers, and other professionals on temporary assignments.

  • Sponsorship: Requires sponsorship from a Malaysian company or organization.


  • Flexibility for short-term professional engagements.

  • Opportunity to explore long-term residency options while working in Malaysia.

Permanent Residency (PR)

Obtaining Permanent Residency in Malaysia is a significant step towards integrating fully into Malaysian society. PR status is granted on a selective basis and is typically reserved for individuals who have made substantial contributions to the country.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Long-Term Stay: Generally, applicants must have resided in Malaysia for a significant period (usually 5 years for married individuals and 10 years for single applicants).

  • Employment: Continuous employment in Malaysia under an Employment Pass.

  • Investment: Significant investments in Malaysia, such as through the Malaysia My Second Home program.

  • Marriage: Spouses of Malaysian citizens can apply for PR after a substantial period of marriage and residency.


  • Ability to live and work in Malaysia without the need for further permits.

  • Access to public services and benefits.

  • Pathway to citizenship after a specified period.


Gaining Malaysian citizenship is the ultimate goal for many expatriates, but it is a complex and lengthy process. Malaysia does not recognize dual citizenship, so applicants must be prepared to renounce their current citizenship.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Permanent Residency: Must hold Permanent Residency status for a significant period (typically 12 years).

  • Good Conduct: A clean legal record and evidence of good conduct.

  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia (the national language).

  • Contribution to Society: Demonstrated integration and contribution to Malaysian society.

Application Process:

  1. Permanent Residency: Hold PR status for the required period.

  2. Application Submission: Submit a detailed application to the National Registration Department (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara, JPN).

  3. Interviews and Tests: Undergo interviews and language proficiency tests.

  4. Approval: Citizenship is granted by the Federal Government, and applicants must renounce their previous citizenship.


  • Full rights and privileges of a Malaysian citizen.

  • Ability to vote and participate in political processes.

  • Full access to public services and benefits.


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Additional Pathways and Considerations

Student Pass

For individuals looking to study in Malaysia, the Student Pass allows for residency during the duration of academic programs. This pass can be a stepping stone to other residency options after graduation.


  • Access to Malaysia's world-class education system.

  • Opportunity to gain work experience through internships and part-time jobs.

  • Potential pathway to employment and long-term residency after graduation.

Spouse Visa

Foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens can apply for a Long-Term Social Visit Pass, which can be converted to Permanent Residency after a certain period. This pathway is particularly beneficial for those with strong family ties in Malaysia.


  • Ability to live with your Malaysian spouse in Malaysia.

  • Access to employment opportunities and social benefits.

  • A simplified pathway to Permanent Residency and eventually citizenship.

Retirement Visa

The Retirement Visa, part of the MM2H program, is tailored for retirees looking to enjoy Malaysia's relaxed lifestyle. The financial requirements are slightly different from those for younger applicants, making it more accessible for retirees.


  • Enjoy a high standard of living at a relatively low cost.

  • Access to excellent healthcare facilities.

  • Opportunity to live in a multicultural and diverse environment.

Challenges and Considerations

While Malaysia offers numerous pathways to residency and citizenship, potential applicants should be aware of certain challenges and considerations:

  1. Cultural Adjustment: Malaysia is a diverse country with a rich cultural tapestry. Adapting to local customs, traditions, and languages can take time.

  2. Legal Requirements: Navigating the legal and bureaucratic processes can be complex. It's advisable to seek professional assistance to ensure all requirements are met.

  3. Financial Commitments: Some residency options, particularly the MM2H program, require significant financial commitments. Applicants should carefully assess their financial situation before applying.

  4. Healthcare and Insurance: While Malaysia offers excellent healthcare services, securing comprehensive health insurance is crucial, especially for retirees and expatriates.

  5. Employment Opportunities: For those seeking employment, understanding the local job market and securing a job offer is essential for residency options like the Employment Pass.

Success Stories and Testimonials

Hearing from those who have successfully relocated to Malaysia can provide valuable insights and inspiration. Here are a few testimonials from expatriates who have made Malaysia their new home:

John and Mary, Retirees from the UK: "We moved to Malaysia under the MM2H program and couldn't be happier. The process was straightforward with the help of an immigration consultant, and we've enjoyed every moment here. The cost of living is affordable, the healthcare is excellent, and the people are incredibly welcoming."

Carlos, IT Professional from Spain: "Securing an Employment Pass allowed me to take advantage of Malaysia's booming tech industry. The transition was smooth, and I've found a great community of fellow expatriates. I'm even considering applying for Permanent Residency in the future."

Anna, Student from Germany: "Studying in Malaysia has been a fantastic experience. The education system is top-notch, and I've had the opportunity to intern at a leading Malaysian company. I'm now exploring options to stay here longer after graduation."



Relocating to Malaysia offers a wealth of opportunities for expatriates, professionals, and retirees alike. With its diverse culture, strategic location, and welcoming environment, Malaysia is an excellent choice for those seeking a new home. Whether you are planning a short visit, long-term residency, or aiming for citizenship, understanding the various options and requirements is essential for a smooth transition.

Navigating the complex immigration process can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone. For expert guidance and support, contact Citizen Remote. Our experienced team can help you understand your options, prepare your application, and ensure a seamless relocation to Malaysia. Don't hesitate to reach out and start your journey to becoming a part of Malaysia's vibrant and dynamic community today. Let us assist you in making Malaysia your second home, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to your new life.

With our professional services, you can rest assured that all legal and bureaucratic hurdles will be handled efficiently, allowing you to focus on enjoying your new adventure in Malaysia. Contact Citizen Remote now and take the first step towards your exciting future in Malaysia!



Tim Marting is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Citizen Remote a site for remote workers and digital nomads. Although from the US, Tim currently lives in Spain, and has been a world citizen for the last 5 years, living in 3 different countries. He had other long-term stops in Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand and the UK. His life goal is “to enable border-less travel and border-less relations for the rest of this beautiful world.