Welcome, rich foreigners!

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is rolling out a new visa scheme to attract foreign tycoons and wealthy businessmen to invest and give the national economy a further boost.

The Malaysia Premium Visa Programme is expected to attract at least 1,000 participants in its first year, which the government expects will add RM200mil to the national coffers, with RM1bil in deposits.

This “residence by investment” programme, which will begin on Oct 1, is modelled on the Golden Visa initiatives introduced by other countries such as Singapore, Portugal and Thailand.

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Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, who made the announcement yesterday, said the government had received proposals and suggestions to introduce a programme to allow applicants to study, work and conduct business here.

He said the scheme differed from the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) initiatives in which participants were barred from working or studying.

“The premium visa programme will spur economic growth, generate income, and open up more job opportunities. We are confident it will attract global tycoons and wealthy businessmen to not just reside in Malaysia but to also invest and run their businesses here,” he told a press conference.

Hamzah said the programme would not pose a threat to the country’s security and sovereignty as there were conditions to be met by the foreigners, adding that the number of participants and that of MM2H and dependents would not be more than 1% of the total number of the national population.

Further, he said the participants would not be eligible to take up Malaysian citizenship.

The programme is open to foreign businessmen and tycoons, except for countries with which Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with.

There are 15 conditions that need to be fulfilled for the premium visa programme, which includes proof of offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month or RM480,000 a year.

They must also have RM1mil in fixed deposits and pay a one-off participation fee of RM200,000 (for the principal) and RM100,000 (for each dependent).

Participants can list their spouses, children, parents, and in-laws as dependents and will be allowed to bring in their maids. They will have to show proof of good behaviour, pass a police check, and get their health checked.

Hamzah expressed confidence that the programme would attract more foreign direct investments into the country and strengthen the ringgit.

He said the businesses the participants could be involved in were as per the sectors listed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry as well as the Economic Planning Unit.

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