What's the process for businesses to hire foreign workers in Malaysia?

Published on 22 Dec 2023, last updated on 2 Feb 2024

Important Information: The application for new foreign worker quotas has been frozen by the Ministry of Human Resources since March 2023. As of January 2024, the freeze is still ongoing until further notice. As such, the following guidelines in this article may be adapted or amended in the future

The process of hiring foreign workers for your business in Malaysia involves multiple government agencies (the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR), the Immigration Department and Department of Labour). It may seem like a daunting endeavour, but it can be done as long as your business is eligible, you are equipped with the right information and ready to comply with the requirements for your specific sector and nature of business. Though the process and requirements may slightly vary depending on sectors, there are general guidelines and steps that apply to all businesses.


Find out whether your business is eligible

Not any business can hire foreign workers. MOHA has identified a list of approved sectors that are eligible to hire foreign workers. Beyond being an approved sector, your business must also meet certain requirements. For example, export-oriented manufacturing businesses must have a minimum capital of RM100,000, meet a minimum sales figure of RM 2Mn, and either have an export value of at least RM50 Mn OR have at least 50% of their yearly sales be exported products. These businesses must also meet an employment ratio criteria of 1 local Malaysian worker for every 3 prospective foreign workers they are looking to hire.

As the eligibility criteria may change every now and then, it is advisable for businesses to send a representative to MOHA to confirm the most updated requirements.

Businesses are required to inform their vacancies to the Department of Labour in advance to enable Malaysian job seekers registered with MyFutureJobs Malaysia to be given priority to fill in the vacancies. The job vacancies must be advertised for a minimum 30 days, after which businesses are required to submit an Employee Hiring report to SOCSO. For a detailed guideline on how to comprehensively fulfil this step, see here.


Apply for a quota of foreign workers from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) via FWCMS

Once you can prove the inability to hire suitable local Malaysian workers for your job vacancies, you may apply for a job quota to hire a specific number of migrant workers via FWCMS. All businesses will need to provide general company documents such as your business’s e-SSM profile, Form 9, Form 13, Form 24 and Form 49. Additional documents that you need to prepare and submit heavily depend on the sector that you’re hiring for. For example, if you are a manufacturing business, it is likely that you will need to present proof of a factory licence.


Identify the foreign workers you intend to hire directly or via the service of a licensed recruitment agency

As a company with a job quota, you may choose to hire migrant workers directly with source country agencies or engage a recruitment agency in Malaysia to assist you in the sourcing and recruitment process. If you intend to hire via an agency in Malaysia, perform your due diligence to ensure that they are licensed with the Malaysian Department of Labour.


Apply for your workers’ e-VDRs with the Immigration Department via FWCMS

You may apply for your foreign workers’ Visa Dengan Rujukan (VDR) or calling visas on FWCMS. You may look through FWCMS’s guidelines here for more detailed information on how to first register an Employer account, login to FWCMS and further instructions on how to apply for your workers’ calling visas.

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