Malaysia’s popular residency programme for wealthy foreigners, known as Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H), has been facing delays and uncertainty amid policy changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting the applicants and the property market.
The MM2H programme, launched in 2002, allows foreigners who meet certain criteria to obtain a 10-year renewable visa and enjoy various benefits, such as buying property, bringing in dependents, and hiring domestic helpers.
The programme has attracted more than 40,000 participants from over 120 countries, mostly from China, Japan, South Korea, and the UK, according to the official website.
However, the programme has been suspended since July 2020, as the government announced that it would review and revise the terms and conditions of the programme, in order to ensure its sustainability and suitability.
The government also tightened the MM2H requirements in August 2021, raising the minimum financial and income thresholds, and imposing additional conditions, such as mandatory health insurance, medical check-ups, and security vetting.
The new rules have sparked criticism and complaints from the existing and potential MM2H participants, as well as the industry stakeholders, who said that the changes were too drastic and detrimental to the programme’s attractiveness and competitiveness.
According to the Star, the MM2H Agents Association (MM2HAA) said that the new rules have caused a 90 per cent drop in the number of applicants, and have also discouraged many existing MM2H holders from renewing their visas.
The association also said that the new rules have affected the property market, as many MM2H participants have bought or rented properties in Malaysia, contributing to the economy and the tourism sector.
The association urged the government to reconsider and relax the new rules, and to expedite the processing and approval of the pending applications, which have been delayed for more than a year.
The government, however, has defended the new rules, saying that they are necessary to ensure the quality and security of the MM2H programme, and to prevent any abuse or misuse of the programme.
The government also said that it will resume the MM2H programme soon, after completing the review and revision process, and after the COVID-19 situation improves.
The government said that it will announce the details and the implementation date of the new MM2H programme in due course, and that it will consider the views and feedback of the relevant parties.