Asia-PacificIntel & Data

As Malaysia’s Federal MM2H Withers Under Stricter Rules, Sarawak’s MM2H Sees 2,800% Increase in Approvals

While the federal version of Malaysia’s My Second Home (MM2H) program has seen a 90% reduction in applications since the introduction of sharply tightened financial and presence requirements in late 2021, Sarawak State’s version of the program is thriving.

Since joining the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963, the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah – both on the island of Borneo – have retained a degree of autonomy over immigration policy, which, from time to time, they see fit to exercise.

When Malaysia’s national government in the years between 2019 and 2021 first suspended and later reintroduced the MM2H program at widely criticized, far-higher minimum investment requirements, Sarawak decided not to follow suit. Instead, it relaunched its own version of the program at terms resembling those of the original nationwide program.

Min. Bank DepositMin. Physical PresenceMin. Annual Income
Federal MM2H$215,00090 days a year$103,000
Sarawak MM2H$32,00030 days a year$18,000

Now far more flexible and affordable than Putrajaya’s version, the Sarawak MM2H is enjoying something of a renaissance:

According to statistics shared by Sarawak’s Ministry of Tourism with Free Malaysia Today, S-MM2H issued 1,655 approvals between 2007 and 2020, or an average of 89 approvals a year. In 2021, this number dwindled to just 27, but in 2022 (the first full year of the new, stricter national program), approval volume soared to 411.

And the popularity of Sarawak’s program is still gaining momentum: By the end of July this year, Sarawak authorities had already approved 406 applications, indicating this year’s total could reach as much as 700.

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In other words, the Sarawak MM2H program's average monthly approval volume has risen by 2,800% in the space of just two years.

Sarawak's Tourism Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who says he chalks the program's meteoric rise up to the now-sharp difference in terms compared to the federal program, says his administration is "comfortable with our current criteria, which still continue to attract applicants."

While Sarawak MM2H-holders must spend at least 30 days a year in that state, their visas are valid across Malaysia, which means they are free to reside anywhere in the country.

Southeast Asian Long-Stay Visa Comparison Chart

Anthony Liew, President of the embattled MM2H Agents Association that has seen many of its members go out of business since 2019, told FMT that many of the Sarawak program's applicants are individuals who would have applied for the federal program were it not for the stricter terms.

He also encouraged Sarawak authorities to expedite its application processing times, which now routinely exceed six months:

“If they get approved fast, they will still have the urge to come to Malaysia. After a wait of six or eight months, they may already be looking at similar programs in another country,” he remarked.

IMI Professionals for Southeast Asian Programs