If you have the time, then taking an extended multi-week break in Malaysia works out much cheaper (average cost-per-day) than a classic 20-day trip. For many nationalities (63 jurisdictions), visitors to Malaysia are by default given a 90-day visa on arrival. This is more than sufficient in most cases, and allows travelers to offset the cost of the flight ticket (the most expensive item) with a longer and relatively inexpensive holiday.
But there are limitations:
- Not all nationalities are granted a 90-day visa; If you’re from Russia, Singapore, the Philippines, Panama (or 93 other jurisdictions) you’ll get only a 30-day visa.
- Both the 30-day and 90-day visas are single-entry visas. This means that if you leave Malaysia for a trip elsewhere during your stay, you will need a new visa to re-enter Malaysia. Immigration officials can be quite punctilious about people re-entering after a short break, and they’re not keen on visa runners. Either way, as a foreigner you need to be careful about leaving and re-entering the country during your stay.
- If you want to extend your trip beyond 90 days, you have no choice other than leaving the country and trying to re-enter after at least 5 days away, and ideally after renewing your visa from a Malaysian embassy outside the country. If you come back sooner, or hope to get another 90-day visa when re-entering the country, questions will be asked and you may be refused entry.
But what if you want to regularly spend longer periods in Malaysia (over 3 months) or if you want to treat Malaysia as a second home? Well, the Malaysian Tourism and Immigration departments came up with a solution – called MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home).
This basically is a program which allows you to apply for a 10-year multiple-entry visa for Malaysia – A renewable 10-year Social Visit Pass, in return for which you must submit a refundable Security Bond.
It’s not our intention here to go into detail about the MM2H program. There are plenty of other online resources that do this well enough, not least the official MM2H portal. If you are reading this, it’s probably because you already know about MM2h and are interested to hear about somebody else’s real (and ongoing…) experiences with the application process.
Initially this process can seem quite daunting, which is why there are so many 3rd-party agents who will handle it for you – at a price. We decided against using an agent and instead made what is called a direct application.
Whether or not this was a good decision on our part is for you to judge at the end of this article. 😳
Getting Started with the Online Application
Our application process began online at the official MM2H website.
Before finding the official website, we had a few false starts with websites which look like the government website (with official logos and all) but which are in fact 3rd-party agent sites. These websites include sections telling you how difficult it can be to apply for an MM2H visa if you go it alone – known as a ‘direct’ application.
Instead they try to convince you to use their services as your ‘official agent’. These services come at a healthy price – typically around RM 8,000 (€1,750).
Is an official MM2h agent worth the money?
An officially-recognized agent will save you from having to make a couple of trips to the MM2H offices near KL. You will still need to supply them with notarized copies of a whole dossier of documents, as well as some original documents (including passports) which will have to be couriered back and forth. However, if you’re not yet spending much time in Malaysia, then using an agent is probably the best way to go.
If you decide not to use an agent, then your first step is to find the ‘official’ MM2H government website from were you can initiate a direct application online.
You’ll need to dedicate some time to this process since there are a lot of forms to fill, questions to answer, and information to provide. When completed you can print out your application data (over 20 pages).
Don’t get your hopes up too high about your initial online application. This is a totally automated process to enable you to print out the correct forms. At this point your application has not been officially accepted, and won’t be until you visit the MM2H offices in person with all the required originals and hard copies.
Compiling your MM2H dossier
Compiling your MM2H dossier is a task you should prepare well in advance. Apart from the need to have many of the documents certified (by a Malaysian lawyer/notary), you also need to apply for a Letter of Good Conduct from the Police in your home country.
Most importantly, you’ll need to provide detailed information about your financial assets, which must be in excess of RM 350,000, and which will be checked by the Malaysian Immigration Department before they will consider your application.
Although the minimum liquid assets you need to declare is RM 500,000 (under 50 years old) or RM 350,000 (over 50 years old), independent advisors suggest that this amount should always be in excess of RM 500,000 (€108,000) – and preferably more – to improve your chances of approval.
All documents must be in English or otherwise be accompanied by a certified translation.
What are your chances of approval? According to the Malaysian Reserve, 4,487 MM2H applications were approved between July 2018 and November 2019 — about half of the 9,439 applications received during this period.
Submitting your application in person at the Head Office
As far as the MM2H officials are concerned, your application process begins only after you visit their office – in person – and after they have formally accepted your application documents.
Putrajaya, KL (First MM2H visit – February 2019)
So to get the ball rolling for a direct application, a visit to the MM2H offices in Precinct 5 Putrajaya (close to Kuala Lumpur) is necessary.
If you are not yet in Malaysia, then you are best advised to use an agent to handle your application, since the costs of making the necessary 2 or 3 visits to Putrajaya from abroad will likely outweigh the agent’s fees of typically RM8,000 – RM10,000 (€1,750 – €2,200).
If you are already in Malaysia, then it’s a relatively inexpensive return flight to KL followed by a ‘Grab’ taxi from the airport to Putrajaya (the taxi takes around 40 minutes each way for approximately RM 25 per trip).
Submitting an application shouldn’t take more than a few hours, so you can book your return flight for later the same day. Alternatively, like us you can use the opportunity to spend a day or two in Kuala Lumpur while you catch up on your shopping 😀.
There are plenty of centrally located apartments that you can rent. Apartments such as KL Shortstay Apartments-188 suites or Parkview Suite KLCC are spacious, good quality, close to KLCC – and won’t break the bank.
We got to the MM2H office around mid-morning, after arriving in KL on the first early morning flight.
In our case, the young lady who dealt with our application carefully checked that all the required documents were contained in our dossier. She also checked that our stated financial resources were sufficient.
Applicants are required to show they have sufficient financial resources to live in Malaysia without seeking employment. Applicants under 50 need liquid assets above RM 500,000 and a monthly income of over RM 10,000 (equivalent). Applicants over 50 need liquid assets over RM 350,000,and a monthly income over RM 10,000.
MM2H Application Received for Verification
After confirming that all our documents were in order, the young lady gave us our confirmation letter and our unique application number. However, she also said that because of the backlog of applications already pending we could expect to wait around 6 months before our application would be reviewed. Apparently, applications are processed in sequential order and there is a considerable backlog (hence your application number).
Note that the Confirmation letter isn’t a Conditional Approval letter (see later). This is simply an acknowledgement that MM2H Immigration have received your application for review and verification.
The Waiting Begins
When we got back home, I browsed to the Check ‘N Track website to check the status of our application (for this, you need your application number).
Frustratingly enough, when I entered our application number the response was ‘Your record is not found. Please try again’.
This was still the case 2 weeks later. I emailed and called their office several times, but the response (when I could get through…) was always conciliatory but uninformative.
6 Months Later and Still No Word
So 6 months passed and there was still no progress.
Check ‘N Track still stated that our record could not be found. We received no communications from the MM2H office, and our repeated emails and phone calls were fruitless. Worse still, we started to hear about other applicant’s experiences, with one lady already waiting for over a year!
An additional issue is that the longer it takes, the longer you have to leave substantial funds in a personal account that MM2H Immigration can check.
We were beginning to worry.
8 Months Later and Counting…
After 8 months I was beginning to wonder if we had done the right thing by going it alone and not using an agent.
- Maybe agents, dealing with dozens of applications get preferential treatment?
- Maybe our direct application keeps getting pushed lower down the list?
In any event, since we had planned to return to Malaysia around this time, we determined to return to the MM2H office in person to pursue the matter.
8 ½ Months later – At Last A Reply
Email Notification of Acceptance! (Early November 2019)
By November we had returned to Malaysia and were planning to fly to KL the following week.
Then out of the blue up pops the email:
I replied to the email requesting that they email a copy of the Approval Letter to me so that I could go ahead and open a bank account (for the banks, MM2H Approval is a requirement). Unfortunately, this would not be possible. Approval Letters have to be picked up – in person – from their office in Putrajaya.
I then received a follow up email informing me that the MM2H Immigration Unit was unable to process my application due to my passport validity, which after all this time had actually expired!
Fortunately, this new setback was quickly resolved by emailing them a copy of my new passport. Once they had received this, they confirmed the Approval.
All we now had to do was go and pick up the Approval letter.
Picking up the MM2H Conditional Approval Letter
Fortunately for us, we had already returned to Malaysia to chase up our application. So now we just needed to take a short hop to KL to pick up the letter.
2nd Visit to Putrajaya, KL (Late November 2019)
When we returned to the MM2H offices in Putrajaya the following week, we were directed to the 10th floor. The immigration department here was much busier than the application department down on the 1st floor, with standing-room only and scores of people waiting to be processed.
It looked like we could be in for a long day. We’d booked a late return flight on the same day, but we would still have to leave the MM2H office by 4:00 pm at the latest.
We explained why we were there to one of the young receptionists. He asked us to wait, but promised to call us when they were ready.
If you want to beat the queues you need to make an early start – ideally arriving at the MM2H building an hour before they open at 8 am. To do this it’s easier to book a local hotel for the night before in Putrajaya – or you could try the Dash Box in Cyberjaya.
In all, we waited around 1½ hours before being called. At last, we received our Conditional Approval Letter together with the other forms we would have to complete to finalize the process.
The Immigration officer patiently explained everything to us.
- We would have to open a Malaysian bank account and deposit the Security Bond.
- We would need to arrange local medical check ups.
- We would need to take out a 12-month Health Insurance policy.
From the date of issue of the Approval Letter, we would have 6 months to do all this and report back (in person) to the MM2H office. All being good, we should then get the coveted 10-year unlimited access visas stamped in our passports.
However, if we exceeded the 6-month grace period, we would have to restart the whole application process from scratch…
Fortunately then there was no urgent hurry. We planned to return to Malaysia in 3 months time. We could then spend a week finalizing the paperwork before returning (for the 3rd and hopefully the last time) to the MM2H office in Putrajaya.
To Be Continued…
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If you are interested in our MM2H Application Experience, check out our 13-week Langkawi itinerary. You may also like: