When relocating to Malaysia, expat spouses are often unsure on how to proceed to keep their career and to retain their professional identity. They often get discouraged by the rules with regards to work permit. As partner to an internationally employed partner you will get a Dependent Pass that does not give you a completely open permission to work. However, Malaysia strives to ease up the procedure for accompanying spouses to find a job. This article will discuss some of the options available for expat partners to work in their new host country.

Employment Pass

As a Dependent pass holder expat spouses are allowed to scout the local market to get their own work permit. Websites such as www.jobstreet.com.my, www.monster.com.my or JoraMalaysia offer thousands of vacancies from almost every industry imaginable but one of the key things is to scout for a company that is allowed to issue work permits to expats. In general, Malaysian companies are bound to rules when it comes to hiring foreigners. Instead, you want to look for international companies. While they often hire expatriates abroad, they do have a commitment to create jobs in the country in which they operate. You will maximize your chances by applying to organizations that are active both in Malaysia and in your home country. Try to keep an open mind and send out as many applications as you can. And while you are waiting for HR to get back to you, get out there and network until you drop. Surround yourself with other working professional, ask questions, start an unpaid traineeship or a volunteer position. While it may not result in any job offer, it will keep you up to date in your field and expand your network.

The resident Pass-Talent

There is another type of visa that can help expatriate spouse work in Malaysia: the Resident Pass-Talent (RP-T) that has been introduced in 2011 by the government to bring foreign talent to address critical skills gap. The RP-T, a ten year pass for highly qualified expatriates to reside and work in Malaysia, offers a more flexible, long-term solution. It provides a range of benefits such as the flexibility to change employers without having to renew the pass, eligibility for the family to dependent pass and more importantly spouse as RP-T dependent pass holder can seek employment without the need to apply for an Employment Pass. TalentCorp Malaysia is the governmental agency in charge of streamlining and processing the applications. All terms and conditions as well as more information could be found on their website: www.talentcorp.com.my


A growing number of expat spouses start out as a freelancer in Malaysia. Freelance jobs are usually very compatible with a mobile lifestyle. There are, however, a few rules to take into account. A freelancer can legally work in Malaysia as long as they operate virtually and have no local clients, unless they have a talent pass (RPT) or a work permit through their own company (Sdn Bhd). But with today’s technological advances, there is no need for you to limit yourself to the local market. You could be running a business and not market anyone at all locally. There are endless internet-based jobs such as freelance writing, web designing, coaching and copywriting. These ‘portable careers’ often require no more than a computer, a reliable internet connection and some expertise. This also means you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.


Whatever option you choose, there is always a way to maintain your professional identity in Malaysia, however big or small!



The best forum to meet your new employer, client or supplier is in a networking event - sign up here!


Leave a comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.