Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
21st Feb 2024

Malaysia opens new post-study visa option for degree graduates

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Malaysia has introduced a package of visa reforms under its new Visa Liberalisation Plan
  • The initiatives include a new Graduate Pass that allows degree graduates (and their dependents) to stay on in Malaysia for up to a year to further their studies, travel, or work part-time
  • The move comes amid a shifting competitive dynamic that sees Malaysia poised to earn a greater share of the international student market this year

Effective 1 December 2023, Malaysia introduced a package of new visa settings designed to make it easier for visitors and students to enter the country. The Visa Liberalisation Plan, eases visa requirements in a range of areas, including, a 30-day visa exemption for visitors from China and India, a "multiple entry visa" mechanism that allows travellers to enter and exit the country for a stay of up to 30 days, and an extension the validity period for visitor visas from three months to six months.

Most relevant to foreign students, the liberalisation plan features a new Graduate Pass (also known as the Social Visit Pass) that allows graduates of Malaysian degree programmes (bachelor or higher) to remain in the country for up to a year after graduation. Students are permitted to continue their studies, travel, or work part-time during that year.

Education Malaysia details the application process and eligibility requirements for the new Social Visit Pass.

Those guidelines include that students must have a valid passport valid for at least the next 18 months, maintain their health insurance while in Malaysia, and to have a Malaysian citizen acting as a sponsor.

Perhaps most importantly, the Social Visit Pass/Graduate Pass is only available to students from the following 23 countries: Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, United States, Oman, and Bahrain.

The Social Visit Pass is also available to accompanying dependents of degree graduates in Malaysia. To be eligible for a Social Visit Pass (Dependent Graduate Pass), the accompanying family member must meet similar provisions with respect to passport validity, health insurance, and a local sponsor.

Please consult the official guidance at Education Malaysia for full details of the new Graduate Pass option.

These latest initiatives have been introduced in the wider context of Malaysia's goal to build its foreign enrolment to 250,000 students by 2025, whereas media reports put the total at between 130,000 and 170,000 students for 2022.

Education Malaysia does not report on foreign enrolment as such, but it does provide quarterly updates on the number of new international student applications. Those releases indicate that application volumes were up just over 18% for the first half of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Given the current turmoil with respect to enrolment caps, visa processing, and other substantive policy change in some of the leading English-speaking destinations, other important regional designations, including Malaysia and New Zealand, are expected to gain a greater share of the international student market this year.

For additional background, please see:

"Southeast Asian students increasingly considering 'studying abroad' closer to home"

"Malaysia exceeds target for new international student applications in 2022"

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