MALAYSIA: For some foreigners residing in a country for an extended period, the aspiration to obtain permanent residence (PR) often arises, offering relief from the hassle of visa renewals.
This desire became a poignant reality for a Pakistani woman who had called Malaysia home for over a decade.
Despite her strong ties to Kuala Lumpur, where she spent her formative years, the pursuit of Permanent Residency (PR) there proved challenging. This difficulty ultimately led her to return to her homeland, a story she shared with ‘In Real Life,’ a platform in Malaysia that features personal experiences.
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, she embarked on her Malaysian journey at the age of sixteen when her father secured employment at the International Medical University (IMU) in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.
Having spent the majority of her adolescence and early adulthood in Malaysia, she gradually distanced herself from regular visits to Pakistan.
The sense of foreignness seemed to persist in both places, with Malaysia, where she had resided since 2009, holding a unique position in her heart.
Despite the diversity of Malaysia’s racial landscape, she observed a shift in her social circle.
Friends, both local and foreign, dispersed over time, leaving her with a palpable sense of isolation.
The reasons behind their departures echoed a common sentiment – Malaysia presented limited personal and professional opportunities, leading many to perceive it as a dead-end.
As a content writer in Malaysia, she faced challenges in her career due to restrictions on foreign employment and inadequate salary scales.
Despite her efforts to integrate into the local job market, the constraints of work visas and specific salary criteria hindered her progress.
The prospect of obtaining PR in Malaysia remained elusive, a sentiment shared by other foreigners enduring years of uncertainty tied to visa renewals.
The constant reliance on visas to sustain residence in a place that had become a home posed an inherent frustration.
The inability to plan for the future beyond the next visa renewal created a sense of incompleteness, preventing the establishment of roots.
The recurring thought that each month might be the last in the beloved adopted home weighed heavily on her mind.
While she cherished Malaysia and envisioned a long-term settlement, the practical barriers imposed by the visa system forced her to confront the inevitability of departure.
In her concluding remarks, she expressed love for Malaysia and a profound attachment to its unique blend of religion, culture, and progress.
Despite a genuine desire to continue exploring the beauty of the country, the reality of being a perpetual foreigner compelled her to make the difficult decision to leave.
At the heart of her narrative, she acknowledged, “I’m a foreigner here, and I always will be.”
Netizens discuss their experiences and challenges in obtaining permanent residence in Malaysia
The narrative shared by the Pakistani woman stirred a lively discussion within the In Real Life community on Facebook, prompting netizens to share their own experiences and perspectives on the challenging journey to attain permanent residence in Malaysia.
A prevalent sentiment echoed through the comments: the consensus that securing permanent residence in Malaysia is an arduous process.
Numerous netizens shared parallel stories of residing in the country for extended periods without achieving the coveted PR status.
One commenter disclosed their decade-long sojourn in Malaysia, expressing the difficulty of obtaining permanent residence.
The sentiment was mirrored by another individual who claimed to have lived in the country for over a decade without success, asserting that Malaysia rarely grants permanent residence.
A compelling anecdote emerged from a netizen who mentioned that even those who entered into marriage with naturalized Malaysians faced obstacles in obtaining permanent residence.
In one instance, friends married to Malaysians with Indian origins and Caucasian spouses found themselves without PR status after 15 years of living in Kuala Lumpur.
Adding to the complexity of the narrative, a netizen shared the remarkable yet prolonged journey of their mother, who waited for over 40 years to secure permanent residence, despite being married to a local citizen.
Amidst the prevailing struggles, a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of a netizen who persevered through a 15-year battle to finally attain permanent residence.
In a testament to the tenacity required, this individual asserted that the struggle was ultimately worthwhile.
Choosing a UNHCR card could be a practical option instead of waiting for permanent residence
A netizen in the discussion offered an alternative perspective, suggesting that obtaining a UNHCR card might be a more pragmatic choice than waiting for permanent residence (PR).
In a sarcastic tone, he highlighted the perceived benefits of having a UNHCR card, such as exemption from taxes, driving license fees, road tax, and insurance.
He facetiously claimed that possessing a UNHCR card allowed individuals to enjoy subsidized goods and reside indefinitely, humorously referring to it as “Kad Kebal” or the invincible card, asserting its superiority over the Malaysian identity card, MYkad.
The UNHCR, or the UN Refugee Agency, operates with the mission of ensuring the right of everyone to seek asylum and find a secure haven after fleeing violence, persecution, or war in their home countries.
Those identified through UNHCR’s processing as requiring international protection receive a UNHCR card or other relevant documentation indicating their status under the agency’s protection.
While the UNHCR identity documentation does not hold formal legal value in Malaysia and is not a substitute for a passport, it does offer a certain level of protection.
The card may mitigate the risk of arrest and grant limited access to essential services, including health care and education, from UNHCR, its partner organizations, or other relevant entities.
Despite its limitations in the legal realm, the UNHCR card serves as a tangible form of recognition and assistance for individuals seeking refuge in Malaysia.
Malaysia offers diverse residency options
Within the online discourse, a user shed light on the intricacies of obtaining permanent residency (PR) in Malaysia, emphasizing that the country employs various types of residency statuses, each with its unique criteria.
Notably, there’s the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program, which offers a prolonged stay for foreigners and allowing for renewal.
The Employment Pass (EP) is another avenue for residency, particularly for those engaged in work, while investments may serve as an additional route to PR.
The user dispelled the notion that mere familiarity with the country and its culture guarantees immediate qualification for PR, underscoring the complexity of the process.
Delving into the specifics of the MM2H program, it was designed by the Malaysian government to attract non-Malaysians looking to retire or reside in the country for an extended period.
The MM2H Visa, lasting up to five years, extends to the applicant’s spouse, unmarried children under 35, and parents or parents-in-law above 60, granting multiple entries and exits.
The benefits of the MM2H Visa include property ownership privileges, the ability to bring in foreign maids, investment opportunities, eligibility for foreign spouses of Malaysians, and the convenience of shipping household goods without tax.
There is also an Employment Pass (EP) as a work permit enabling expatriates to work in Malaysia, subject to the employment contract and approval from the relevant authorities.
The Expatriate Committee (EC) or relevant authorities must greenlight the foreign talent’s position before the issuance of the EP by the Immigration Department of Malaysia, and the pass is contingent on the employment contract, with a maximum duration of 60 months.
Despite these avenues, the user expressed the inherent challenges in the PR process in Malaysia, implying that the journey is not straightforward, except for VIPs who might have expedited pathways.
This comprehensive overview provided insights into the diverse routes available for securing residency in Malaysia, underscoring the nuanced nature of the immigration landscape in the country.
Aspiring Malaysian residents in 2023 must meet varied criteria for permanent residency
Individuals seeking to relocate to Malaysia in 2023 and apply for permanent resident status must meet specific criteria falling into several categories:
- High Net Worth Individuals:
– Requirements: Open a Malaysian bank account and deposit a minimum of 2 million USD without withdrawal for five years.
– Family Inclusion: Spouse and children can apply for permanent resident status after the initial five-year period.
- Highly Skilled or Talented Individuals:
– Requirements: Applicants must present a certificate of good conduct and apply through the Immigration Department.
– Industries: Open to individuals with exceptional skills in various industries, such as medicine, technology, finance, banking, sports, and more.
– Requirements: Similar to the highly skilled category, professionals need outstanding skills and a recommendation from a relevant Malaysian authority.
– Experience: A minimum of three years of experience in their field of work is necessary.
– Certificate: Provide a certificate of competence from a relevant authority in their home country.
- Spouse of a Malaysian Citizen:
– Requirements: Must be married to a Malaysian citizen for at least five years.
– Residency: Must have continuously lived in Malaysia during the entire five-year period.
– Visa: Must hold a Malaysia resident visa.
The most advantageous category for foreign nationals with available assets is often the first one, which caters to high-net-worth individuals.
While this category imposes fewer requirements, applicants still need a Malaysian sponsor.
For those aiming to move to Malaysia as experts, showcasing evident talents or skills in specific industries is crucial.
A recommendation from a relevant foreign authority in their field is required, making this method preferred for individuals recognized internationally.
Similar to experts, professionals require a Malaysian sponsor, but they must have at least three years of experience in their field and provide a certificate of competence issued by a relevant authority in their home country.
On the other hand, individuals applying as the spouse of a Malaysian citizen must demonstrate a marital history of at least five years, continuous residence in Malaysia during this period, and possession of a Malaysian resident visa.
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