MM2H agents dump cold water on govt’s new elite visa

Khoo Gek San

MM2H agents say there is no information available on the government’s new PVIP programme, with the Immigration Department seemingly in the dark about the details foreigners need to know. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 20, 2022.

MALAYSIA My Second Home (MM2H) agents have poured cold water on the government’s claim that it can attract 20,000 millionaires through its recently launched premium visa programme (PVIP).

For starters, they said, there is no information on this new programme. There is no official website and the Immigration Department is also in the dark because it cannot furnish any details to the agents, they said.

MM2H Agents Association president Anthony Liew said three main differences stand out between the MM2H and PVIP programmes.

The first is the one-off processing fee for PVIP is RM200,000 for the applicant and RM100,000 for dependents, compared to MM2H’s RM5,000 and RM2,500 respectively.

For PVIP, there is no age limit, while MM2H applicants must be above 35 years old.

Meanwhile, PVIP applicants can work in Malaysia, while MM2H applicants are not allowed to do so.

Liew said the PVIP programme is unlikely to attract a large number of applicants because expats in Malaysia can apply for work visas, which will allow their families to also reside in the country.

If they have the intention of investing in Malaysia, they can apply for a business permit from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) instead of PVIP, he said.

“Currently, we have no idea about PVIP, there is no official website,” Liew told The Malaysian Insight, adding that even the Immigration Department cannot provide them with details.

Under PVIP, annual renewal will cost RM2,000, while MM2H applicants only pay RM500.

“According to the Home Ministry, both schemes require a fixed deposit of RM1 million and monthly RM40,000 proof of income.”

Liew said that MM2H only received several hundred applicants in the first six months after the rules were revised, but the Home Ministry said there were 20,000 applicants.

“Where did they get this figure?” he asked.

“They have also not informed us whether we can participate in the PVIP programme.”

Despite the new MM2H requirements and agents receiving lots of enquiries, not everyone is interested in applying, Liew said.

Thailand, which has a similar programme is also attractive, but Liew believes Malaysia still has the advantage.

“Meanwhile, China has not opened its borders. Many Chinese citizens are interested but they can’t do anything at the moment.”

However, Liew said he hoped to meet with the Home Ministry to discuss the MM2H requirements.

“We hope to lower the threshold, such as having to stay in Malaysia for 90 days and a RM40,000 monthly income.

“The initial intention of the programme was for retirees, not working professionals.”

Earlier this month, Malaysia introduced PVIP to attract wealthy foreigners to invest in Malaysia and live in the country for at least 20 years.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said the “residency through investment” programme, the first of its kind introduced by the government to drive the country’s economic growth, will be open for applications from October 1, 2022.

Hamzah said PVIP is being offered to business tycoons from all countries, except Israel and those that do not have diplomatic ties with Malaysia.

He said participants will be given benefits in the form of visa approval for up to 20 years, permission to study, permission to purchase real estate for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, and make active investments in permitted fields.

Hamzah said to ensure that the PVIP does not undermine national security and the country’s sovereignty, the Home Ministry has set a control policy, including the introduction of a ceiling on the number of participants — comprising principals and dependents — to not exceed 1% of the total population.

He said the programme is open to all participants of all age categories, with proof of an offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month.

Other conditions include having a fixed savings account with a deposit of at least RM1 million, with no withdrawals allowed on the principal value for the first year, while up to a 50% withdrawal from the principal value will be allowed from then for the purchase of real estate, health or education.

Hamzah said his ministry is targeting at least 1,000 people applying in the first year of the programme, which would provide an estimated RM200 million revenue, as well as RM1 billion in fixed savings.

Thailand’s elite visa still holds the edge

MM2H consultant Patrick Ho said PVIP does not have many advantages compared to Thailand’s elite visa programme, a five-year renewable multiple entry visa with an extendable one-year length of stay per each entry.

Visa holders stay uninterrupted in Thailand without the usual need to leave the country every 90 days, as with the other visas.

They will also receive expedited immigration formalities and passport control processing when arriving in Thailand.

“The PVIP does not afford all these exclusivities. The application is RM200,000 and dependants have to pay RM100,000 each. How is this supposed to compete with Thailand?” Ho said.

He added that, after the ministry’s announcement, there were enquiries about the programme but agents could not answer because no information had been released.

Many also asked about the MM2H programme, but the requirements are no longer attractive to foreigners, he said.

No concession to stay in Malaysia

My Ideal 2nd Home Sdn Bhd director Shankar Chandra Podder, who assists Bangladeshis applying for MM2H, said many clients cancelled their visas after the new requirements were announced in October last year.

Bangladeshis account for the second highest number of MM2H applicants, he said.

Podder added that, after the MM2H eligibility criteria were revised, foreigners had no incentive to stay on, moving to the US, Europe or Turkey, which grant permanent residency and the possibility of citizenship.

Podder said Bangladeshis are attracted to Malaysia because it is an Islamic country, while the culture, food and weather are relatable.

“Halal food is readily available, there are no natural disasters, the cost of living is relatively low, and there is access to good education too.”

Podder does not think the PVIP will be attractive to Bangladeshis.

“The change in requirement has only given foreigners a poor impression of Malaysia and the government.

“The policies are not friendly, there is no guarantee visas will be given and there is no incentive to apply. Also, it is still expensive for foreigners to own properties.”

Christina, another MM2H consultant, has also received many enquiries about the PVIP.

“There is no information beyond what the minister announced. The programme is similar to MM2h except the fee is higher and non-refundable,” she said.

“They announced it suddenly and now we are left to explain when we have no information.”

Christina has helped a myriad of professional applicants apply for MM2H.

“My clients are from France, the UK, US, Canada, China, etc. We spend a large amount of money to promote Malaysia but lately, the applications are being rejected for no reason.

“This gives a poor impression,” she added. – September 20, 2022.

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