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  • Writer's pictureCreimerman Product Team

Changes in Malaysia's MM2H Retirement Visa Program: Analyzing Reforms and New Possibilities

Southeast Asia is a region that has consistently attracted foreign investments, not only due to its promising investment returns for frontier market speculators but, more importantly, for its appealing lifestyle offerings. This region is renowned for its favorable price-value ratio, warm climate, exceptional hospitality, and an overall welcoming multicultural environment.

Now, what truly surprises me in Malaysia's landscape of investment visas is the presence of 4 different options. But the real head-scratcher lies in the fact that 2 of these visas offer the alluring promise of a decade-long stay, yet their investment prerequisites are worlds apart. One demands a substantial investment of 235,000, while the other extends the same privilege with a significantly lower threshold of just 35,000. When is the same visa, how is this possible?

Min. Bank Deposit

Min.Physical Presence

Min. Annual Income

Federal MM2H


90 days a year


Sarawak MM2H


​30 days a year


Malaysia's MM2H Retirement Visa program, was a favorite among the public for many years, has undergone significant changes in recent years, leaving the foreign investor community intrigued and, in some cases, perplexed. This article examines the evolution of the MM2H program and how recent changes have affected investors seeking a first-world lifestyle in Malaysia.

The Rise of MM2H

Until 2019, Malaysia's MM2H program held the title of the world's most sought-after "golden visa," a fact often overlooked by many Eurocentric analysts. This program provided an attractive incentive for Malaysia's real estate market, which was booming due to new property construction.

Furthermore, it linked this offer with a high-quality lifestyle and a business-friendly urban environment, making it an enticing option for international investors.

Transition and Challenges of Change

However, as is often the case in the world of Residency by Investment programs, all good things must come to an end, often abruptly, followed by poorly conceived restructuring and relaunch efforts. In this case, the changes implemented in the MM2H program in 2021, with seemingly excessive thresholds and minimum requirements, have left many investors wondering about the program's future. These changes appear to ignore what private sector investors are truly seeking, giving the impression that the country may be trying to deter investors.

Sarawak and Sabah Programs

In the federative governmental system of Malaysia, there exists an interesting loophole that allows two regions, Sarawak and Sabah, to take charge of their own immigration affairs while remaining a part of Malaysia. These regions seized the opportunity to introduce their own customized versions of the MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) program, and what's particularly noteworthy is their decision to do so.

When the Malaysian national government suspended and later reintroduced the MM2H program between 2019 and 2021, amid widespread criticism and with significantly higher minimum investment requirements, Sarawak took a different path. Rather than following suit, Sarawak chose to independently relaunch its own iteration of the program.

This intriguing development saw both Sarawak and Sabah introduce their unique MM2H programs, distinguished by lower banking and income thresholds, as well as a requirement of just 30 days of physical presence per year. The result was a staggering 2800% increase in approvals for Sarawak's program, and Sabah experienced a similar surge in interest. It appears that by making the program more attractive, these regions successfully attracted increased investment.

To address the confusion caused by changes in the MM2H program, Malaysia announced another new Premium Visa Program at the end of 2022. This program aims to provide an additional avenue for attracting foreign investors, especially those from East and South Asia seeking an authentic living experience in Malaysia. However, this program falls short of the benefits offered by Sarawak and Sabah's investment programs, so it is recommended that you explore those options.

The evolution of Malaysia's MM2H Retirement Visa program serves as an example of how reforms can impact a country's attractiveness to foreign investors. While recent changes have generated uncertainty, they have also led to the opening of new regional programs that may result in increased foreign investment in Malaysia. The future of visa programs in Malaysia remains uncertain, but it is clear that the country is willing to adapt to attract international investors.

So, if you are interested in finding out more about Investment Abroad and its opportunities to develop business, contact us today! Below this article, you will find a link to set up a free fifteen-minute consultation with us to discuss your options further.

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