What are the different types of Foreign Domestic Helper (FDH) Visas?

In order to work legally in Malaysia, maids or foreign domestic helpers require a Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) / Pas Lawatan (Kerja Sementara). Immigration will commonly abbreviate this type of work visa as a PL(KS), which grants domestic helpers the right to work as full-time and live-in workers in designated Malaysian households and the freedom to enter and exit Malaysia multiple times within the annual visa period.

Did you know that there’s a process involved for a helper to be issued her full PL(KS) that grants the right to work and multiple entries into Malaysia for a full year? In fact, there are different types of visas that Immigration will grant to your helper, depending on which job processing stage she’s in.

If your domestic helper has just started her job processing to work in Malaysia from abroad, she’ll need to be ‘called’ to Malaysia first to qualify for legal entry into our borders. This first visa she will receive from Immigration is called a Visa with Reference/ Visa dengan Rujukan (VDR), also colloquially known as a Calling Visa.

1. Visa with Reference / VDR / Calling Visa

When a new helper is applying to work in Malaysia, the calling visa will be the first visa that the employer/ agency applies for. The helper will need to pass comprehensive medical examinations at Malaysian government-approved medical clinics in her home country, be deemed “medically fit for work” and obtain an Immigration Security Clearance at the Malaysian Embassy before she is eligible for a Calling Visa application.

After a helper has completed these processes, her employer/ agent can proceed to prepare the rest of the calling visa application bundle for submission at Immigration in Malaysia. Note that if you’re Malaysian and your helper is outside Malaysia, you’re required to engage a JTK-licensed employment agency to submit your helper’s calling visa application with Immigration. If you’re an expatriate employer on an Employment Pass or Residence-Talent Pass, you have the option to submit your helper’s calling visa application yourself at the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) in Putrajaya.

What about processing times?

For Malaysian employers: Your helper’s calling visa application will be processed by the Malaysian Immigration’s Pembantu Rumah Asing (PRA) Unit either online via FWCMS or over-the-counter at PRA in Putrajaya. It will take up to 14 working days, although Covid-19 delays should be expected.

For Expatriate (Employment Pass or Residence Pass-Talent) employers: Your helper’s calling visa application will be processed by the Malaysian Immigration’s Expatriate Services Division over-the-counter in Putrajaya. It will take up to 14 working days, although Covid-19 delays should be expected.

Once approved, a calling visa is valid for 4 months. Payment for the calling visa and applying for a Single Entry Visa using the valid calling visa at the Malaysian Embassy in your helper’s home country should be made within this 4-month period.

** Kindly be informed that the Malaysian government has halted the application and issuance of new calling visas for foreign domestic helpers hired by Malaysian employers since the pandemic started.

There has been no confirmed action from Immigration or the Malaysian government on the practical resumption of calling visas for helpers hired by Malaysian employers, although our National Security Council announced that they would resume this in March 2021.

2. PL(KS) – Single Entry Visa (SEV)

With an approved and paid calling visa, your helper can then receive a Single Entry Visa (SEV) from the Malaysian Embassy in her home country. Much like its name, a valid SEV will permit a domestic helper to enter Malaysia once. It is only valid for entry to Malaysia within 3 months of the issuance date.

The SEV is also sometimes referred to as the Journey Performed (JP) Visa, as your helper’s SEV will be stamped as a ‘Journey Performed’ once she has successfully landed in Malaysia. After your helper has arrived in Malaysia, she’ll need to apply for her final PL(KS), which will grant her the right to work and multiple entries and exits from Malaysia for a maximum of 1 year.

3. PL(KS) – Multiple Entry Visa (MEV)

What most employers identify as a ‘maid / helper visa’ is actually a multiple entry work permit known as the Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) / Pas Lawatan (Kerja Sementara).

In order to obtain this MEV, the helper will need to undergo her first FOMEMA medical examination in Malaysia within 30 days of her arrival. If she passes and is declared ‘fit to work’ at this final stage of her recruitment journey, Immigration will grant her a MEV for a 1-year term to legally work in Malaysia. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their helper’s MEV is renewed annually. This MEV is granted to the helper and valid for work on the condition that she is employed with the Legal Employer and Employment Address named on this work permit.

** If your helper has a valid MEV, is currently in Malaysia and wants to return to her home country for her annual leave or holiday in Covid-19 times, she can! As long as a helper has a valid MEV, she will be allowed to return to Malaysia from abroad. The Malaysian government’s border entry system (MyTravelPass for Malaysian employers and MyEntry for expatriate employers) will approve helpers with valid MEVs to enter Malaysia in these times.

** Kindly note, however, that if you are a Malaysian employer and your helper abroad only has a calling visa or SEV, she will not yet be allowed entry into Malaysia. As of July 2021, PL(KS) calling visas and SEVs are not considered approved visa categories for entry into Malaysia.

Have more questions about domestic helper visas and entry conditions in Covid-19 times? Kindly contact us at [email protected] or visit our Our Services page. Our friendly Pinkcollar officers will be happy to walk you through the process and share our service offerings with you!