Malaysia: Govt. to Review Both MM2H and PViP Following Dismal Performance

In the last two years, Malaysia has introduced two new “residence-by-deposit” programs: A new, far stricter version of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program and the Premium Visa Program (PViP).

Both were introduced to great fanfare; both have attracted only the lackluster levels of demand private sector actors warned of ahead of time.

In 2019, the Malaysian government suspended the by-then 16-year-old MM2H program, which was, at the time, the world’s largest residence-by-investment program, receiving nearly 8,000 applications in a single year. For the next two years, the program lay dormant awaiting a government review, which had dragged on because of a ministerial turf war.

In late 2021, the government, ignoring industry warnings of the mistake they were committing, reopened the MM2H with a quadrupled monthly income requirement and a 90-day physical presence condition.

Industry stakeholders were quick to express their dismay and warn of dire consequences. See:

In September 2022, in a surprise move, Malaysia introduced an altogether different deposit-based residence program, the PViP, which would now compete with the MM2H and attract thousands of “global tycoons,” despite having very similar terms and conditions:

Min. Bank Deposit$235,000$235,000
Applicant Minimum Age35N/A
Max. Visa Validity5+5 years20+20 years
Physical Presence Requirement90 days a yearN/A
Processing FeesMYR 5,000 for the main applicant and MYR 2,500 per dependentMYR 200,000 for the main applicant and MYR 100,000 per dependent
Minimum Liquid Net Worth ProofMYR 1.5 millionN/A
Minimum Annual IncomeUS$120,000US$120,000
Work and Study Permitted?NoYes

By early 2023, the outcome experts had cautioned against had become a reality: MM2H agents, representatives of a once-thriving but now-decimated industry, said applications had cratered by 90% since the new rules took effect.

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The PViP, meanwhile, saw even less interest. Notwithstanding official state media’s astonishing claims that the new program had received more than 20,000 applications within the first 24 hours of opening, Free Malaysia Today reported last week that the program had, in reality, only received 28 applications (main applicants and dependents) since launching, only two of which had been approved so far.

Both programs now under review by the new government

The dismal results prompted Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to promise a review of the PViP:

“This Premium Visa Program does not meet the goals set. Based on the number [of applicants] approved, it does not meet the target. It’s not satisfactory. It needs to be reviewed,” he told local media on Wednesday. At the same time, he emphasized that this as to be expected given the tightened conditions and that more than 800 applicants had received “pre-approval” and were likely to get the green light.

Meanwhile, Anthony Liew, President of the MM2H Consultants Association, last week argued the government might as well merge the PVIP with the MM2H program. Pointing out that MM2H agents now need separate licenses to process PViP files,including the as a “new category” within the MM2H would “allow all MM2H licensed agencies to promote [the PViP] collectively, provide more opportunities for their agents, and cut down the work for government officers.”

Malaysia’s new government appears open to listening to the private sector. On Thursday, Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, promised to review the MM2H and to divide the program into three categories: Platinum, Gold, and Silver, each with a different bank deposit requirement, presumably in exchange for different terms:

“We will review the eligibility requirements to make them flexible, and anyone can apply. To provide the foreigner a choice, I recommended three categories: Platinum, Gold, and Silver,” he commented last week, stopping short of divulging further specifics.

Nearly four years after Malaysia first suspended its highly successful original MM2H, it now has two programs under review, which combined attract but a tiny fraction of the residency-driven FDI the country had enjoyed for 16 years.

IMI Professionals for Southeast Asian Programs