MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, November 30, 2023

New visa policy overlooks non-citizen women, children in Malaysian families, says group


Family Frontiers says the long-term social visit passes issued to non-citizen spouses include a statement of prohibition from employment, presenting substantial challenges in finding work.

PETALING JAYA: An NGO that advocates equal citizenship for Malaysians with foreign spouses says Putrajaya’s recently announced visa liberalisation programmes fail to address the needs of women and children from binational families.

In a statement, Family Frontiers said this “vulnerable” group remained absent from the new policy despite forming an unrecognised yet substantial workforce of skilled professionals.

“But their potential contribution to Malaysia’s productivity is hindered by stringent employment restrictions.”

The home ministry several days ago introduced five new initiatives under its visa liberalisation plan, including a multiple-entry visa for tourists and long-term social visit passes (LTSVPs) for international students from selected countries.

The measures, to take effect on Dec 1, are intended to revitalise the country’s tourism sector, identified by Bank Negara Malaysia as a crucial contributor to economic growth, the ministry said.

But Family Frontiers said the LTSVPs issued to non-citizen spouses include a statement of prohibition from employment, presenting substantial challenges in finding work.

“Although it is possible to obtain a work endorsement, it requires an initial job offer, but the prohibition on their LTSVPs hinders them from receiving such job offers in the first place.”

Family Frontiers also said that the process for non-citizen spouses to receive work endorsements is limited to the state where the pass is issued.

It added that if non-citizen spouses find employment in a different state, they face a lengthy and cumbersome process to transfer their LTSVP file to the state of their employment.

“This process can take anywhere from three to six months, a duration that most employers are unwilling to wait.”

Family Frontiers said removing the statement of prohibition on employment on the LTSVPs and allowing non-citizen spouses to work in all sectors, including those requiring professional licences, could substantially reverse the brain drain.

It also called for a streamlined process for permanent residency (PR), including a reasonable timeframe and justification for rejection.

“Accord PR after five years on LTSVP, irrespective of nationality, qualifications, income, or children, and utilise existing documentation submitted during the application and extension of the LTSVP,” it said. - FMT

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