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VDR, VP(TE) And EP: Guide To Hiring Foreign Workers For Your Company In Malaysia

Foreign workers and expatriates require dedicated passes to reside and work in Malaysia.


The number of foreign workers in Malaysia has grown from 1.68 million in year 2020 to 2.1 million in year 2022. According to a review piece by Khazanah Research Institute in 2019, most of the foreign workers in Malaysia occupy semi-skilled and low-skilled jobs.  


Khazanah Research Institute also mentioned that as locals and foreign workers hold different fields of work, there are no clashes between them in getting jobs. And perhaps this is the reason why foreign workers are in demand in Malaysia – to fulfil the gaps in the labour sector. 

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers have stated in media reports that the manufacturing sector itself requires 600,000 foreign workers in year 2022 especially for jobs with 3Ds – difficult, dirty and dangerous.  

For the time being, it seems that many employers are depending on foreign workers for their operations. The number of foreign workers in Malaysia is capped at 15% of the entire workforce. While efforts are ongoing in reducing the dependency on foreign workers, they are essential to certain industries.  

Hiring Foreign Workers For Six Sectors: Construction, Manufacturing, Services, Plantation, Agriculture, Mining And Quarrying 

Before applying for the hiring of foreign workers, employers will need to inform the Department of Labour, Ministry of Human Resources of the job vacancies first. This is to ensure that locals who are registered with JobsMalaysia, a jobs portal, are given priority in applying for the positions. 

Then, employers can submit a complete application to the Ministry of Human Resources for approval. Once approved, employers can then choose an outsourcing agency that will assist them in the supply of foreign workers. Companies that hire less than 50 foreign workers are required to peruse an outsourcing agency who will manage the contracts, salary payments, accommodation and insurance for foreign workers. 

However, do note that there’s an exception for foreign workers who originate from Bangladesh. The recruitment is done via a Government-to-Government (GTG) arrangement. 

There are six sectors that are permitted to hire foreign workers which are construction, manufacturing, services, plantation, agriculture, mining and quarrying. Foreign workers in Malaysia consist of nationalities from Nepal, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. 

Employers can hire foreign workers of ages 18 to 45 years old when they first enter the country. The period of employment is 10 years with an additional three years for the six sectors mentioned above.  

Foreign workers can only be hired if they fulfil these criteria: 

  • Pass the Immigration Security Clearance in original country. 
  • Pass health check in health centre in home country. 
  • Not in list of foreigners who are not allowed to enter Malaysia. 

Getting The Visa For Entry And Visitor’s Pass For Temporary Employment 

Foreign workers are not Malaysian citizens or even Permanent Residents but they can live and work in Malaysia with a visitor’s pass for temporary employment. 

Employers will need to apply for the Visa With Reference (VDR) @Calling Visa for foreign workers to enter the country after approval of the visa from the Immigration Department Headquarters. 

You can go about the VDR application process online through the  Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) which was set up by the Immigration Department. 

You may check the full lists of documents required here. Some of the documents you will need to prepare include: 

  • Form IMM.38 
  • Sponsor’s identication card 
  • Sponsor’s letter of undertaking 
  • Two recent photographs of applicant 
  • Copy of applicant’s passport 

Foreign workers may collect the VDR at the Malaysian Representative Offices in their home country and fly in to Malaysia. Then, they will need to undergo a health screening at clinics registered with FOMEMA Sdn Bhd. 

Lastly, foreign workers will receive the Visitor’s Pass for Temporary Employment (VP(TE) at the State Immigration Office or Malaysian Immigration Headquarters at Putrajaya.  

The VP(TE) is valid for only 12 months and employers will need to renew them three months before the expiry date. Here are the fees for the renewal of the Visitor’s Pass: 


Along with the VP(TE), a Foreign Workers Colour Coded Identity Card or i-Kad will also be issued to foreign workers. The identity cards are colour coded based on the sectors the foreign workers are employed in – green for agriculture, orange for plantation, grey for construction, maroon for manufacturing, yellow for services and brown for domestic helpers. 

Hiring Professional Expatriates For Jobs In Malaysia 

Expatriates are also people who hail from a different country but are staying and working in Malaysia. They are allowed to do so via the Employment Pass (EP), a special work permit.  

Prior to hiring expatriates, employers will be required to advertise the vacant positions on  MYFutureJobs portal first for 30 days so locals get the opportunity to apply and interview for them. However, there are exceptions if the position is a key position such as C-Suite levels, comes with a monthly salary of RM15,000 and above, is for a regional office, international organisation, corporate shift or trade, a shareholder, sports sector and expert skilled workers.   

Companies who are interested in hiring expatriates will need to first register with the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) under the Malaysian government. Expatriates are preferably hired for these 12 industries: 

  • Education 
  • Agriculture 
  • Tourism 
  • Business services 
  • Electrical and electronics 
  • Healthcare 
  • Wholesale and retail 
  • Palm oil 
  • Financial services 
  • Oil, gas and energy 
  • Communication content and infrastructure 

The hiring of expatriates must be reviewed and approved by the Expatriate Committee and other relevant bodies. You may peruse the checklist here required for hiring of expatriates. 

Then, employers may apply for the EP with ESD. The EP is valid for 60 months. Expatriates, who meet the minimum salary requirement of RM5,000, may also apply for a Dependent Pass, Long Term Social Visit Pass and Social Visit (Temporary Employment) Pass for family members and domestic helpers. 

Featured Image Credit: Honey Shune Lai Nyo/DollarsAndSense     


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