What is the change? Malaysia is enforcing stricter travel rules for foreign workers who have filed to cancel their employment passes.

What does the change mean? Foreign workers risk being denied reentry if they leave Malaysia while their employment pass cancelations are pending.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment passes (EP).
  • Who is affected: Foreign workers who travel outside Malaysia after submission of their EP cancellation requests.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: The stricter rules could disrupt the end of an assignment if a foreign employee invalidates his or her EP by leaving the country after the cancellation request is submitted.
  • Next steps: Foreign assignees applying to cancel their employment passes should refrain from travel outside Malaysia to preserve their ability to work through the end of their assignments.

Background: Effective immediately, the Malaysian Immigration Department will no longer recognize the reentry privileges of an employment pass once a foreign worker has filed to cancel it. In the past, foreigners could travel and reenter Malaysia up until the requested effective cancelation date of their EP. Now, the employment pass is cancelled immediately upon leaving Malaysia if a cancellation request has been submitted to the authorities. This means the affected foreign nationals will lose their ability to work upon their return to Malaysia. Further, visa nationals could be denied reentry and forced to apply abroad for an entry visa, which would allow them to reenter Malaysia but does not authorize work. Therefore, a foreign worker who has filed to cancel an employment pass should stay in Malaysia until the requested end date.

BAL Analysis: The change in rules comes without notice, and foreign employees at the end of their assignments are strongly advised to avoid leaving Malaysia after their cancellation requests are submitted, even if they are changing employers in Malaysia.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Malaysia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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