PETALING JAYA: Agents are calling for a tiered system in the minimum monthly income requirement for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, saying that the take-up rate in Peninsular Malaysia is falling way below pre-pandemic levels since applications resumed in October last year.
The Malaysia My Second Home Consultants Association said only 28 applications out of 44 submissions succeeded between October and April 8 this year.
Its president Anthony Liew said the number of applications had severely dropped following the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s revision of the programme’s conditions.
“Prior to the current guidelines and pandemic, we had up to 6,000 successful applications yearly,” he said, adding that the current applicants were mostly from China.
He added that although many retirees had expressed interest in the programme, the current fees made it unattractive.
“We hope the government can reconsider the RM40,000 minimum monthly income requirement, especially for the retiree age group of 60 and above.
“A tiered system could also be introduced to make the programme that much more attractive for prospective applicants across different ages,” he said.
Liew also noted that a majority of retiree applicants now opted for the Sarawak MM2H programme due to the more affordable packages offered by the state.
A MM2H consultancy managing director, Jaime Chew, said as of now, they had only been receiving about three enquiries per week, mostly from Hong Kong and China.
“This is a far cry from what we had pre-pandemic, with at least three to five applications a month,” she said.
Chew said there were also many approved applicants who were unable to endorse their visas in Malaysia due to the previous border closures, adding that these applicants were planning to do so soon.
The revised requirements for MM2H applicants in the peninsula have seen many shift their applications to Sarawak MM2H instead due to its relaxed guidelines, she added.
Another MM2H consultant, Ismail Mussa, said his company was instead processing more visa terminations than applications.
“Currently, we are more occupied serving existing applicants who want to cancel their visas instead,” he said.
“The abrupt ending of the old programme alongside the increased visa fee from RM90 to RM500 per person yearly has also seen many withdrawing their submitted applications.
“Since the programme resumed in October, we have had only one application so far.
“This is in stark contrast to the 15 to 20 applications monthly back in 2019,” he said.
Ismail said the government should review the current guidelines or at least temporarily relax them to boost interest in the programme, especially for the peninsula.
He also said a majority of applications through his company were intended for Sarawak, with at least 10 applications monthly from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and South Africa, among others.
In August last year, the Federal Government announced 10 new conditions for applicants of the programme, including RM1.5mil of liquid assets, RM40,000 monthly offshore income, RM1mil in a Malaysian fixed deposit and an additional RM50,000 per dependant.
Existing MM2H pass holders only need to comply with two out of the 10 new conditions: an increase in pass fee from RM90 to RM500 per year and the requirement to stay in the country for a minimum of 90 days a year.
The Sarawak MM2H programme, however, is unaffected by the change.
Among the state’s criteria are fixed deposits in local banks, from RM150,000 for individuals to RM300,000 for couples.
The requirement to invest in properties worth at least RM600,000 for residential purposes applies only to applicants who are aged between 40 and 50.
Those aged above 30 could be considered if they are accompanying their children to study in Sarawak or seeking long-term medical treatment while a minimum stay of 15 days cumulative per year is required.
In January, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the stricter conditions set for MM2H had not deterred foreigners from wanting to take part in the programme, with 111 applications received since the new policy took effect.