Access to talent is often cited as a key issue for fintechs – are there any immigration rules in your jurisdiction which would help or hinder that access, whether in force now or imminently? For instance, are quotas systems/immigration caps in place in your jurisdiction and how are they determined?

Fintech (2nd edition)

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

For an EU citizen (and by extension any EEA citizen), the fundamental principle of the free movement of workers applies (Article 45 TFEU), whereby this person is allowed to work and live in another Member State without the need to acquire a work permit in this other Member State.

Any non-EU citizen who wishes to work in Belgium must obtain either a work permit (for employees performing services in Belgium on a salaried basis for a Belgian or the foreign parent company) or a professional card (for self-employed persons). The work permit or professional card must normally be applied for and issued before the person arrives in Belgium. The application process usually takes up to four months for a work permit and up to six months for a professional card.

Highly skilled personnel and executive-level personnel (employees) earning a yearly gross salary exceeding a threshold that is adjusted on a yearly basis can, however, apply for a fast track application. Certain exemptions and a range of specific limitations may also apply to employees. With respect to self-employed persons, there is an exemption for business travels not exceeding three consecutive months.

Bermuda Small Flag Bermuda

Bermuda’s pioneering work to regulate the global blockchain industry has attracted interest and incorporations from various fintech businesses, including start-ups, and the Bermuda Government has demonstrated that it understands the need for access to talent, as well as promoting jobs for Bermudians in the fintech sector. To this end, the Bermuda Government has implemented a new immigration policy for fintech companies desirous of setting up businesses in Bermuda. The Fintech Business Work Permit Policy allows a fintech company that is new to Bermuda to receive automatic approval of up to five (5) work permits within the first six (6) months of obtaining the first Fintech Business Work Permit.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

Currently there are no specific immigration rules in our jurisdiction regarding the retention and/or attraction of qualified talent. However, it’s worth mentioning that Brazil have always recognized the importance of immigration for its development and up to today it is still considered a key factor for the future of the country.

In this context, migration legislation (Law Nº 13.445, the New Migration Law) was approved in 2017, with new policies aimed at making the process for foreign nationals coming to Brazil easier and faster. New procedures have been introduced to expedite and facilitate the granting of certain work visas, and also to grant immediate residence status in both cases where families were being reunited and under the Mercosur Agreement.

Additionally, the fact that immigration into countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States is restricted, indirectly it represents an opportunity for Brazil, which, because of its current rules, not only allows, but also, in fact, encourages foreign nationals to study and work in the country.

Chile Small Flag Chile

Chile introduced a tech visa in 2017 as a simplification of the immigration procedure, specifically to attract advanced human capital from abroad for the development of creative industries, advanced manufacturing, global services, and the technology industry in general.

Any foreigner can apply for the tech visa if he/she is a professional or technician in the areas of science and technology, or with a proven experience in innovation in Chile or abroad, and who is going to be hired as a dependent worker by companies in the technology services sector, with an invitation letter and / or certificate of sponsorship from: InvestChile (the government agency responsible for promoting Chile in the global market as a destination for foreign direct investment in the case of foreign capital companies); Start-Up Chile if they are participating in that program; or the Ministry of Economy if they are national companies.

The main advantage of this tech visa is that it has a fast track that allows the resolution in a term not exceeding 15 business days, counted from the date of submission and that ends with the obtaining of the Visa and Identity Card.

In Chile, there are no visa caps, so everyone who submits the documentation and meets the requirements will obtain a tech visa.

United States Small Flag United States

The H-1B visa for “speciality occupation” workers is the most common temporary visa utilized by fintech and other technology companies. There are annual caps on the number of H-1B visas selected.

  • H-1B Regular Cap (cap: 65,000) is a nonimmigrant visa designed to allow qualified companies to sponsor foreign nationals who have bachelor’s degrees in specific specialties to come to the United States and work in specialized jobs.
  • H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption (cap: 20,000) is for beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher (in specialized fields directly related to the duties of the position).

Another common type is the Permanent Immigrant Visa (which is part of the permanent residence or green card process). The number of green cards issued is limited based on preference category and an immigrant’s country of birth. These criteria affect how long it takes to get a green card. See the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Department of State websites for current processing times.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

The UK immigration system has specific categories for the tech sector, including the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category which is designed to attract those who are at the very top of their field.

Companies in the UK can apply for a Tier 2 sponsor licence which permits them to bring non-EEA nationals to the UK to work in skilled roles. There is a cap on the number of skilled migrants who can come to the UK under Tier 2 (General) and it is set at 20,700 per annum.
In Spring 2019, the Government introduced the start-up and innovator categories. The schemes are designed to allow UK businesses and accelerators to sponsor entrepreneurs and innovators.

However, there has been widespread criticism that the new schemes do not go far enough to attract seasoned entrepreneurs and innovators (in part due to the requirement to be accepted on incubator/accelerator programmes of the endorsing bodies) with only four applications being granted in Q2 2019.

It is therefore critical that the future immigration system is designed taking into account the skills shortages facing industries like fintech and learning lessons from the past.

China Small Flag China

While the PRC Labour Law, PRC Contract Law and other well-formed legislation set out relatively comprehensive rules concerning the relationship between talent and employers, immigration rules make up a less developed framework. The result, however, is a general welcoming of foreign talent, with multiple types of work visas/permits, some not subject to quotas and others with quotas that are very loose. While the process may involve several, typically time-consuming steps (work permit, work visa and residence permit), there is even a fast-track process for certain categories of foreign workers (e.g., leading scientific talent and international entrepreneurs).

Colombia Small Flag Colombia

Persons taking up employment in Colombia need a work visa prior to their employment. However, hiring immigrants in Colombia has become increasingly easy for companies over the past few years since after a century of conservative migration policies, regulations were relaxed, and managerial quotas were repealed. Moreover, common opinion is that access to talent is not an issue and a high demand from foreign companies exists for Colombian developers.

UAE Small Flag UAE

The UAE has one of the more open immigration policies when it comes to acquiring talent. Its population consists of roughly 80% expatriates and 20% UAE nationals.

There are no quota systems or immigration caps in place, although it is worth noting that an Emiratisation quota requirement exists on UAE Onshore whereby any company with more than 100 employees is obliged to recruit the stipulated number of UAE nationals to ensure a minimum percentage of participation of Emiratis in the workforce. This minimum percentage of participation varies depending on the economic sector of the company and job description.

Taiwan Small Flag Taiwan

To protect domestic employment, Taiwan has developed very restrictive immigration rules. Foreigners are not permitted to work in Taiwan unless their Taiwanese employer obtains a work permit for them. The permit does not belong to the individual, but is issued to the employer for hiring a foreigner for a certain job. As a result, a foreigner with a work permit has very limited ability to change his/her employer. Moreover, in principle, foreign workers are only allowed to be employed to engage in specific types of jobs as prescribed by law, and the maximum period of work permit allowed for foreign white-collar workers is 3 years.

To eliminate hurdles that employers may face in accessing foreign talents, a new law took effect on February 8, 2018. The new law stipulates that a foreign white-collar worker who needs a longer period to seek employment in Taiwan may apply for a six-month visitor visa for multiple entry. In addition, if a foreign professional possesses special expertise that Taiwan needs in the fields of science and technology, economics, education, culture, arts, sports, etc., as announced by the central competent authorities, the maximum period of his/her work permit could be extended to 5 years.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

Workers from inside the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are free to live and work in Denmark; however, a registration certificate is needed if the worker want to stay in Denmark for more than 3 months.

Workers from other areas must as a main rule obtain a working permit before carrying out any work in Denmark. There are several different schemes under which a worker can obtain a working permit. For example, it is possible to be granted a work permit if; the worker has been offered a job in Denmark with an annual salary of DKK 426,985.06 (As per September 2019) or higher, and if the worker can present an actual contract and the employment terms of the contract is in accordance with Danish standards.

Likewise, if the worker has been offered a job on the Positive List (which is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified workers, the list is updated twice a year), it is possible to get a working permit with a lower salary than under the pay limit scheme. There is often fintech-related job is on the list (at the moment (October 2019) jobs like IT-engineer, IT-consultant and programmer and system developer).

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

According to bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU, there are no quotas for citizens of EU member states and such citizens have a right to a work permit in Switzerland. For third party nationals, there are quotas and various permits that may be issued, from 90 day permits to full-year permits; such persons taking up employment in Switzerland need a permit issued prior to their employment. As a rule, any work of more than eight days per calendar year performed by a foreign national in Switzerland requires a prior work permit or online registration. Switzerland already negotiated an agreement with the U.K. that in case of a hard Brexit, U.K. citizens will continue to profit from preferential treatment in Switzerland.

Spain Small Flag Spain

Yes. This is an extremely important topic that needs to receive adequate attention by public authorities in order to deal with it in an appropriate manner.

Spain, like many other European countries, has set up an Entrepreneur Visa program, designed to attract talent and foreign investment in the country. Non-EU nationals who intend to develop an innovative business or entrepreneurial activity with special economic interest for Spain may apply for a visa or residence authorization for entrepreneurs. The visa is valid for one year with the possibility of being renewed for two-year periods, provided that the entrepreneur continues to meet the requirements that originated this right.

There is also a Highly Skilled Professional Visa that consists on a work permit that allows citizens from outside the European Union to work and reside in Spain, provided they are management staff, highly-qualified professionals and graduates or postgraduates from universities and prestigious business schools working for a Spanish company.

Germany Small Flag Germany

In Germany, there are no quotas systems with regard to immigration of fintech-employees. However, there are immigration rules to observe. The rules to observe differ according to citizenship.

Citizens of a member state of the European Union or from Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein neither need a residence permit nor a work permit (§§ 2, 12 FreizügG/EU).

Employees from Switzerland (§ 28 AufenthV) and some other countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US (§ 41 I AufenthV) can enter without a visa, but need to apply for a residence permit including a work permit in Germany. All citizens from other countries, besides a residence permit, also need a visa for work purposes.

Highly qualified employees from all countries can apply for an EU Blue Card (§ 19a AufenthG), in case they have a (foreign) university degree or at least 5 years' relevant professional experience.

South Korea Small Flag South Korea

We do not believe that there are such quotas systems/immigration caps in Korea yet

Iceland Small Flag Iceland

In general, with Iceland being a party of the EEA, citizens of the EEA are authorized to be employed in Iceland without a specific work permit or a visa. These employees would, however, need residence permits from the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration within the first three months of the working period. Citizens from outside the EEA are required to have both work and residence permits.

Non-EEA/EFTA residents can be issued a temporary work permit for a job that requires expert knowledge. There are quite stringent conditions for issuing such a permit, which include that the attempts have been made to find an employee in Iceland and within the EEA/EFTA which has the required expert knowledge.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the Posted Workers Act applies to companies established in another EEA Member State, another EFTA State or the Faroe Islands, which intend to post workers to Iceland, providing services on a temporary basis. During the time these workers are working in Iceland, Icelandic law applies to their terms of service, including collective bargaining agreements containing minimum wages and other employment-related rights.

Portugal Small Flag Portugal

Yes, there are immigration rules in Portugal which intend to facilitate the access of tech business developers to our country.

In fact, the new Regulatory Decree regarding the entry, permanence, exit and removal of foreigners into and out of the Portuguese national territory in force enables the optimization and flexibility of the residence visa and permit proceedings, notably for the foreign entrepreneurs and highly qualified workers in order to encourage the establishment in Portugal of new tech and innovative businesses.

These new provisions foresee the possibility of issuing a residence visa specifically for entrepreneur foreigners who wish to invest in Portugal notably in the tech and innovative areas.

An example of Portugal’s commitment to facilitate bringing these projects into our country is the “StartUp Visa” which is a program destined to bring to Portugal foreign business developers who wish to establish their projects in Portugal. This program had a previous certification process for the incubator companies to apply in order to host entrepreneur foreigners who wish to create and develop tech companies in the national territory. The applications for the start-up companies are already available online at https://webapps.iapmei.pt/StartupVisa/VisaEmp/Account/Login.aspx and there is no deadline foreseen for the submission of the applications. When an application is approved, a residence visa may be requested by the entrepreneur(s) of the project (up to five for each application) at the consular post, which will be valid for four months and may be renewed. After arriving in Portugal, the entrepreneurs must schedule a meeting with the Immigration Authority (“Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras”) in order to request for the residence permit.

India Small Flag India

There is no quota system in place for any sector for foreign nationals entering India. However, as per the guidelines issued by the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs, a foreign national being sponsored for an employment visa in any sector should draw a gross salary in excess of USD 25,000 per annum. Further, as per the employment visa requirements, employment visa is not granted for jobs for which qualified Indians are available or for routine, ordinary, secretarial or clerical jobs. It is granted to highly skilled/ qualified professionals or to persons engaged or appointed on contractual or employment basis. Consular and immigration officials consider an applicant’s academic and professional qualifications to fill the proposed position in India, and the availability of Indian workers to fill the position.

Typically, employment visas for most sectors are processed on a case-by-case basis and historically have been granted for 1 year even if the duration of employment is longer than a year. It is possible to get an extension of the visa in India for an additional 12-month period enabling the individual to remain in India on the employment visa for up to a total of 5 years from the date of initial issue of the visa. The extension procedure and processing time differs in every jurisdiction within India. U.S nationals who are the CEOs or senior executives of a U.S. company may be granted employment visas for a period of three years or for the validity of the employment contract, whichever is shorter. Special provisions regarding visa processes and validity apply to the citizens of Japan and China.

Peru Small Flag Peru

Foreign personnel can immigrate to Peru, it is not forbidden, but it is important to consider the immigration procedures they must fulfil. Moreover, regarding the application of employment rights and benefits, foreign workers have the same rights and obligations as national workers.

If foreign personnel are required to provide services in Peru, the company must take into consideration the specific provisions regulated in the legislation for the hiring of foreign workers. Additionally, to hire foreign citizens to work in Peru, two requirements must be fulfilled: (i) the employment contract must be registered within the Ministry of Labour; and (ii) the worker must have the enabling migratory quality that allows him to work (work visa approved by the National Superintendence of Migrations).

It should be noted that our legislation establishes that companies domiciled in Peru - whether national or foreign - cannot have more than 20% of foreign workers on their payroll. And, the remuneration of foreigners cannot exceed 30% of the total payroll. This cap has exceptions; foreigners married to Peruvians, foreigners who have the status of permanent residents, foreigners under multilateral agreements signed between Peru and their country of origin, among others.

Israel Small Flag Israel

There are no special rules for employing talent employee for fintechs.

There are rules for obtaining a work permit for employing foreign experts in general.

An application process and a permit to hire foreign experts employees usually take about two-three months and in order to obtain such a permit, several conditions must be met:

  1. The company first tried to recruit an employee with the required expertise in Israel and was unsuccessful. The employee for whom the Company is applying for a work visa is indeed unique and has special expertise.
  2. The Company have to declare that if the expert will receive a work visa, it will pay him a salary that is not less than twice the average monthly wage, and will pay him all the labor rights granted to an employee under Israeli law. In addition, for a foreign employee (whether he is an expert or not) the company should also have to pay for medical insurance and take care of a place of residence or pay a minimum amount for proper residence.

A work visa is given for a period of one year. The work visa can be renewed every year up to a maximum of five years.

The cost of the work visa application is about NIS 11,000 (and a renewal each year costs the same amount)

There are no specific quotas or restrictions in connection with talent employees in fintechs.

Nonetheless, these requirements only apply for employees residing in Israel at the time of their employment. There are no such requirements for people providing services from locations outside the area of the State of Israel.

The Netherlands Small Flag The Netherlands

The Netherlands is generally considered the perfect pan-European hub and is known for its lenient business immigration policy. Multiple immigration schemes have been developed to attract specialist talent from abroad.

Employees from the European Union do not need to obtain a residence permit and a working permit.

Fintech employees from outside the European Union can apply for schemes such as the Dutch highly skilled migrant programme or the EU Blue Card, the latter of which combines a residence permit with a working permit. No working permit is required for the highly skilled migrant and his or her spouse.

These immigration schemes require an employment contract, know a minimum salary requirement and the EU Blue Card requires a higher education degree. Moreover, the Dutch highly skilled migrant programme can only be used by employers that are recognised by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service.

For the ‘30% rule’ available to employers of specialist talent from abroad, we defer you to paragraph 8.

Japan Small Flag Japan

The TMG recently initiated a program to increase the number of foreign entrepreneurs. Before this initiative, a foreigner wishing to start up a business in Japan had to obtain a "business manager" visa. In order to receive such residency status, the applicant had to open an office in Japan as well as employ at least two full-time staff members, or invest at least JPY5 million in Japan - a high hurdle to surmount.

Pursuant to the TMG program, an applicant can receive a residency status as a business manager for half a year even if the conditions mentioned above are not met, provided that his/her business plans and other necessary information are filed with the TMG, and the TMG then confirms that such applicant is likely to fulfill the conditions within the following six month period.

The Business Development Center Tokyo provides individual support under the program so that foreign entrepreneurs are able to fulfill the visa conditions by the end of the six months and renew their residency status.

Jersey Small Flag Jersey

As a small jurisdiction, Jersey has some residency and permit to work requirements and restrictions.

(a) Immigration requirements

An immigration permission is not currently needed to live in Jersey for:

  • a British citizen;
  • a European Union (EU)/European Economic Area member;
  • the holder of an EEA family permit; or
  • a Swiss national.

Non EU/EEA nationals travelling to Jersey from abroad, may need a UK visa and may also be subject to certain requirements.

(b) Work permit requirements

A permit to work in Jersey is not needed for:

  • a British citizen or a British subject with the right of abode;
  • a national of a member state of the EU/ European Economic Area (EEA), unless you are a Croatian national;
  • a non-EEA family member of an EEA national but you must obtain an EEA family permit before entering Jersey;
  • a Swiss national;
  • a Commonwealth citizen admitted as a working holiday maker;
  • a Commonwealth citizen admitted on the grounds of UK ancestry;
  • a Commonwealth citizen with a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode;a participant in the Youth Mobility Scheme;
  • a minister of religion;
  • a business visitor; or
  • a non EU / EEA passport holder who has no restrictions attached to your stay.

(c) Residency requirements

Every person living in Jersey is given a residential status which determines where they can live and work. There are four categories:

  • entitled;
  • licenced;
  • entitled for work; and
  • registered.

Ordinarily a person has to live in Jersey continuously for 5 years and gain "Entitled for work" status before he/she can start a business or work in most jobs. A person has to live in Jersey continuously for 10 years and gain "Entitled" status to access the full real estate market. However, there are exceptions and Jersey welcomes applications from:

  • Skilled, economically active, high net worth individuals; and
  • High value activity businesses, and their principals, who are looking to move offshore.

For these individuals, there are two routes that can be followed:

  • Business relocation; this is for businesses which want to establish on the Island. This route gives the business principals (or essential employees) the option to apply for a 'licensed' permission. Individuals can then access the full residential market.
  • High value residency; this route is income based and gives individuals 'entitled' status. Individuals gain full residential and employment rights subject to specific conditions.

More details and guidance can be found at: locatejersey@gov.je.

Jersey has its own EU Settlement Scheme to ensure that EU citizens who live in the Island are able to stay. The Jersey EU Settlement Scheme provides:

  • settled status to successful applicants who have been living in Jersey continuously for 5 years or more by 31 December 2020. This allows them to continue to living and working in Jersey. They will also be able to apply for British nationality;
  • pre-settled status to applicants who fulfil all the requirements of the application but have been living in Jersey for less than 5 years. This includes those who move to Jersey between the end of 2018 and 31 December 2020. After they have completed 5 years residence they can then apply for settled status;
  • the ability for family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in Jersey by 31 December 2020, to apply for settled status after 5 years in the Island;
  • close family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) the ability to join EU citizens in the Island (where the family relationship existed on 31 December 2020).

At the time of writing, we understand that, EU citizens who arrive in Jersey 31 October 2019 will have to apply for settled status if they choose to stay in Jersey longer than 3 months.

Liechtenstein Small Flag Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein operates a restrictive policy regarding residency but a less strict policy regarding working in the Principality. As a general rule Liechtenstein differentiates between EEA citizens, Swiss citizens and citizens of other countries.

Quotas for residency are in place for EEA citizens (granted or lottery) and Swiss citizens (only granted) while for citizens of other countries residency only can be granted on a case by case basis.

Swiss citizens require no permit or registration for working in Liechtenstein. EEA citizens who work in Liechtenstein must be registered with the authorities by their employer within ten days of commencing work. Citizens of other countries require a permit before starting work in Liechtenstein. This permit is issued for one year and will be approved by the Migration and Passport Office only if certain conditions are met.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

Pursuant to Article 7 of the Federal Labour Law (“FLL”), foreign individuals are permitted to work in Mexico; it is important to stress out that Mexican citizen employees must amount, at least, to 90% of the working force.

Luxembourg Small Flag Luxembourg

In general, Luxembourg’s workforce is highly educated and skilled as well as diverse. 47% of the population are foreigners and 160,000 people commute daily from Belgium, France and Germany to work in the Grand-Duchy.

European citizens can reside, move, and work freely throughout the European Union on the basis of the "free movement of persons", whereas third country nationals must apply to the Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg for a (temporary) authorization to stay prior to entering Luxembourg. In line with the EU rules in this respect, Luxembourg has favourable immigration and working permit conditions for highly qualified workers and workers in the field of IT even have a more favourable regime.

To the best of our knowledge, no quotas systems/ immigration caps have been implemented in Luxembourg.

Malta Small Flag Malta

Being a full member of the EU, Malta respects the principle of freedom of movement within the Union. EU citizens (other than Croatian nationals) do not require a work permit to work and thus may reside in Malta. If such residence exceeds 3 months, an EU citizen must apply for a permit to reside in Malta. This procedure is fairly straightforward and not document intensive. Non-EU citizens and Croatian citizens require a single-work permit to work and reside in Malta, which permit can be obtained within 3 months and is valid for one year. It is also renewable for a further period of 1 year. If a non-EU citizen wishes to be employed in Malta, he must have a genuine prospect of gaining successful employment before entering Malta to work; and the employer will need to prove that the employee’s skills are not easily found within the Maltese talent pool. In addition, Identity Malta has recently launched a new scheme, referred to as the “Key Employee Initiative”, which seeks to facilitate the employment of highly specialised non-EU individuals, who wish to be employed in Malta. The scheme is available to managerial or highly-technical posts which require the relevant qualifications or adequate experience related to the job being offered and where the prospective gross salary is of at least EUR 30,000.

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

The Singapore government is, generally speaking, very supportive of entrepreneurs who wish to do business in Singapore.[27] The Ministry of Manpower’s (“MOM”) policy is that immigrants may migrate to Singapore for work as long as they are issued a work pass.[28]

Foreign employees in Singapore must hold a work pass to be employed in Singapore. In the context of a FinTech startup, employees would likely have to hold either an S Pass or an Employment Pass. The S Pass is for mid-skilled foreign employees (e.g. technicians)[29] while the Employment Pass is for foreign professionals.[30] A foreigner must apply to MOM for these passes, which are issued at MOM’s discretion. It should be noted that the number of S Pass holders of a business is capped at (1) 15% of the company’s total local workforce in the services sector, and (2) 20% in all other sectors.[31]

[27] https://www.mti.gov.sg/Newsroom/Speeches/2019/08/Speech-by-SMS-Koh-Poh-Koon-at-the-Inaugural-Experience-the-Power-of-Innovation-and-Collaboration
[28] https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits
[29] https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/s-pass
[30] https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/employment-pass
[31] https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/s-pass/quota-and-levy/levy-and-quota-requirements

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

With Malaysia’s continuous economic growth, specifically through the launch of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in September 2010, Malaysia has been recognised as a world-class destination for foreign talent and is ranked by the World Bank in its “Doing Business 2015” report as the top 20 globally “ease of doing business” destinations, coming ahead of Switzerland, UAE, Japan and France, to name only a few. The ETP focuses on the implementation of 12 National Key Economic Areas which are significant areas in promoting and strengthening the economic stability of Malaysia.

In line with the above, the mammoth growth of multinational corporations (MNCs) and the establishment of foreign businesses in Malaysia has resulted in a massive increase in job opportunities across various industries. The professional opportunities available in Malaysia are certainly an attraction for foreign talent to move to Malaysia. Malaysia also recognises the value and contribution of foreign talent and several programmes have been implemented towards achieving the goal as setting Malaysia as the top destination for foreign talent. These programmes are listed below:

i. Establishment of Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (Talent Corp)
Talent Corp was established on 1 January 2011 under the Prime Minister’s Department to attract and retain foreign talent. Talent Corp collaborates with the Immigration Department of Malaysia to streamline and enhance immigration service delivery for expatriates. One of the facilities introduced in 2011 was the Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T), which is a 10-year renewable pass for highly qualified expatriates to continue to reside and work in Malaysia. The RP-T offers expatriates an attractive range of benefits such as the flexibility to change employers without having to obtain a new work pass and facilities for dependants to work and study in Malaysia.

ii. Introduction of Malaysia Expatriate Talent Service Centre (MYXpats Centre)
A new processing division to bring faster processing of work pass and related applications was introduced on 1 June 2015, called the MYXpats Centre. With the introduction of the MYXpats Centre, which is a joint initiative between Talent Corp and the Immigration Department of Malaysia, the related immigration processes to facilitate foreign talent in Malaysia have improved significantly. Employers sponsoring work pass applications can benefit from consistent five-day processing time of Employment Pass applications and other related applications. The overall immigration service has also been enhanced with the establishment of the Help Desk at MYXpats Centre, which can be easily accessed for any immigration related queries. The Help Desk has also been prompt in issuing notices of closure/disruption of service during festive season which helps in managing expectations of employers and their business needs.

iii. A new classification of Employment Pass (Employment Pass Category III)
As of 15 July 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced a new category of work pass, the Employment Pass (Category III). Foreign nationals whose Malaysia work contracts do not exceed twelve months and whose monthly basis salaries range from MYR 2500.00 to MYR 4999.99 are eligible to apply under this category of work pass. This is significantly less than the current minimum salary requirement for a standard Employment Pass application, which is MYR 5000.00. Employers seeking to hire foreign nationals under this category will, however need to obtain an exemption from the minimum salary requirement of MYR 5000.00 from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Malaysia. The implementation of Employment Pass (Category III) is a platform for employers to hire short-term foreign nationals under a lower salary than the standard Employment Pass.

iv. International Students Mobility Programme under a Social Visit Pass
Importance is also placed in attracting international students to Malaysia. The International Student Mobility Programme was implemented to attract companies registered with the Expatriate Services Division that intend to undertake short-term placements of international students within their company. The programme allows international students pursuing a degree or equivalent certification from a recognized university or institution outside of Malaysia to participate in activities such as student exchanges, industrial or practical training, internships, mentorships and other similar programmes at the sponsoring company’s offices in Malaysia.

Other factors such as cultural diversity, stability, geographical advantages, healthcare, education, and infrastructure have also made Malaysia a top talent destination. Based on these various factors, Kuala Lumpur has also been voted among the top 100 most liveable countries in the world in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2014 Global Liveability Ranking.

v. Returning Expert Programme
The Government of Malaysia also appreciates the significant contribution its citizens can offer towards the growth of the country’s economic, political and social development from their own experiences abroad. It recognises that these contributions can be more effective and beneficial if the knowledge, experience, contacts and intercultural abilities citizens have gained abroad can be applied in Malaysia. Therefore, the Returning Expert Programme which was originally introduced in 2001 and is now under the purview of Talent Corp, aims at encouraging and facilitating Malaysians abroad with expertise in selected priority sectors to return and work in Malaysia. The objective of this programme is to allow them to contribute their skills and experience towards the development of the country. This programme offers attractive living and financial incentives and is also intended to help overcome the shortage of professional and technical experts in the country by creating a world-class workforce in Malaysia.

The above-mentioned initiatives are expected to attract foreign talent to Malaysia to support the economic growth in Malaysia by streamlining immigration rules and procedures which will then result in substantial contributions to Malaysia’s economic performance and growth in human capital.

Updated: November 11, 2019