Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, has followed through on his promise to “take a second look” at how the program’s stringent new requirements would affect existing MM2H participants. Speaking yesterday in the Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of Malaysia’s Parliament, Zainudin said current MM2H-holders would only need to comply with two out of the ten new requirements.
According to the Star, the only two new requirements that will apply retroactively to current MM2Hers are the program’s new and still modest fee (About US$120, up from some US$22) and the 90 days-a-year physical presence requirement.
“However, for new holders,” said the Minister, “they will need to meet all the new criteria under the MM2H program to ensure that only those who are genuine and of ‘good quality’, and who can really contribute positively to the nation’s economy are allowed to join the program.”
New applicants to the program will have to demonstrate quadrupled levels of monthly offshore income of no less than RM 40,000 (US$9,434), maintain a fixed deposit balance of RM 1 million (US$236,000) instead of the previous RM 150,000/300,000, and demonstrate RM 1.5 million in liquid assets (up from RM 300,000/500,000).
The news will no doubt come as a great relief to long-term MM2H residents, many of whom had already begun devising contingency plans in anticipation of their inability to afford the new terms. It will also please the Sultan of Johor, who – along with MM2H advisors’ associations – has been vocal in calls for a grandfathering in of existing program members.
Speaking to Free Malaysia Today, Anthony Liew – President of the MM2H Consultants Association – called on the government to give existing members a grace period to adjust to the 90-day presence requirement, and requested clarification as to how those days would be counted.
“We don’t know whether this will be imposed immediately. We hope existing holders can be given time to comply with this new rule. The government should also clarify whether the dependents’ stay in the country can go towards accumulating these 90 days,” he said.
While investment migration practitioners and program participants alike will welcome the development, the government’s capricious handling of the program relaunch may already have caused irreparable damage to Malaysia’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.