Drastic changes to Malaysia’s formerly lauded retirement visa scheme met with criticism

Southeast Asia’s formerly most welcomed retirement visa scheme for foreigners has now “prohibitive” conditions

Malaysia’s retirement visa programme Malaysia My Second Home, or MM2H, once among the most popular such schemes in Southeast Asia after it was launched in 2002, has fallen from grace for many potential retirees who wanted to spend their silver years and their savings in the country.

This comes as reaction to several drastic changes to the scheme imposed by the Malaysian government and announced recently, including such that applicants for the MM2H visa must now have a higher fixed deposit, a much higher monthly income than before and pay more in processing fees.

Participants are now required to have an offshore income of at least 40,000 ringgit ($9,440) a month, compared to 10,000 ringgit ($2,360) previously, as well as a fixed deposit account in Malaysia with a minimum of one million ringgit ($235,990), from which a 50-per cent maximum withdrawal is allowed for the purpose of buying property, paying health bills and funding children’s education.

New age group, shorter visa cycle

Another new condition for those intending to apply for the programme is that they and their participants must be in the country for at least 90 cumulative days in a year to ensure they “truly contribute to the Malaysian economy.”

There are now also two age groups, those between the age of 35 and 49 and another category for those 50 years and above. The younger age group has to prove they are “financially stable” and have permanent employment to apply for the MM2H programme.

Malaysia’s Home Ministry secretary-general Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz said that the government has further agreed to put a ceiling on the number of participants, including the principal and their dependents, at one time to be not more than 1% of the number of Malaysian citizens. The validity of each visa has also been halved to five from ten years.

Currently, there are 57,478 holders of the MM2H visa, plus their dependents.

New applications under the changed conditions can be made from October and would be handled by the immigration rather than the tourism department, the ministry said.

Criticism from existing visa holders

The changes have been met with criticism, including from visa brokers, housing agents and current MM2H visa holders, whereby the latter have been given a one-year grace period to meet the new criteria, causing potential trouble for those who have bought property and settled down with family in Malaysia but now are being given a tough time to meet the conditions for renewal.

Visa agents say the rules were “prohibitive” and the ongoing political turmoil in the country – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to declare his resignation on August 16 – was an additional deterrent for applicants.

Critics further noted that the aim of the Malaysian government to target wealthier retirees who would contribute to the economy, mainly through fees and visa charges, purchase of properties and vehicles, fixed deposits, as well as household, education and personal expenditures, could backfire and potential applicants were likely discouraged by the “problematic” new regulations.

“Prohibitive requirements” for potential applicants

Particularly, the requirement of a monthly offshore income of nearly $10,000 was simply “too high” and “deterring” since the economies of many source countries for MM2H were also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and retirees were no exemption, they say.

Currently, more than 1,000 applications are pending from participants from countries such as China, Japan, UK, Bangladesh, South Korea, Singapore, the US, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia after the MM2H programme has been put on hold last year due to the pandemic.



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Southeast Asia's formerly most welcomed retirement visa scheme for foreigners has now "prohibitive" conditions Malaysia’s retirement visa programme Malaysia My Second Home, or MM2H, once among the most popular such schemes in Southeast Asia after it was launched in 2002, has fallen from grace for many potential retirees who wanted to spend their silver years and their savings in the country. This comes as reaction to several drastic changes to the scheme imposed by the Malaysian government and announced recently, including such that applicants for the MM2H visa must now have a higher fixed deposit, a much higher monthly income...

Southeast Asia’s formerly most welcomed retirement visa scheme for foreigners has now “prohibitive” conditions

Malaysia’s retirement visa programme Malaysia My Second Home, or MM2H, once among the most popular such schemes in Southeast Asia after it was launched in 2002, has fallen from grace for many potential retirees who wanted to spend their silver years and their savings in the country.

This comes as reaction to several drastic changes to the scheme imposed by the Malaysian government and announced recently, including such that applicants for the MM2H visa must now have a higher fixed deposit, a much higher monthly income than before and pay more in processing fees.

Participants are now required to have an offshore income of at least 40,000 ringgit ($9,440) a month, compared to 10,000 ringgit ($2,360) previously, as well as a fixed deposit account in Malaysia with a minimum of one million ringgit ($235,990), from which a 50-per cent maximum withdrawal is allowed for the purpose of buying property, paying health bills and funding children’s education.

New age group, shorter visa cycle

Another new condition for those intending to apply for the programme is that they and their participants must be in the country for at least 90 cumulative days in a year to ensure they “truly contribute to the Malaysian economy.”

There are now also two age groups, those between the age of 35 and 49 and another category for those 50 years and above. The younger age group has to prove they are “financially stable” and have permanent employment to apply for the MM2H programme.

Malaysia’s Home Ministry secretary-general Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz said that the government has further agreed to put a ceiling on the number of participants, including the principal and their dependents, at one time to be not more than 1% of the number of Malaysian citizens. The validity of each visa has also been halved to five from ten years.

Currently, there are 57,478 holders of the MM2H visa, plus their dependents.

New applications under the changed conditions can be made from October and would be handled by the immigration rather than the tourism department, the ministry said.

Criticism from existing visa holders

The changes have been met with criticism, including from visa brokers, housing agents and current MM2H visa holders, whereby the latter have been given a one-year grace period to meet the new criteria, causing potential trouble for those who have bought property and settled down with family in Malaysia but now are being given a tough time to meet the conditions for renewal.

Visa agents say the rules were “prohibitive” and the ongoing political turmoil in the country – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to declare his resignation on August 16 – was an additional deterrent for applicants.

Critics further noted that the aim of the Malaysian government to target wealthier retirees who would contribute to the economy, mainly through fees and visa charges, purchase of properties and vehicles, fixed deposits, as well as household, education and personal expenditures, could backfire and potential applicants were likely discouraged by the “problematic” new regulations.

“Prohibitive requirements” for potential applicants

Particularly, the requirement of a monthly offshore income of nearly $10,000 was simply “too high” and “deterring” since the economies of many source countries for MM2H were also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and retirees were no exemption, they say.

Currently, more than 1,000 applications are pending from participants from countries such as China, Japan, UK, Bangladesh, South Korea, Singapore, the US, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia after the MM2H programme has been put on hold last year due to the pandemic.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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