Malaysia plans to introduce an online visa processing facility for foreign workers in a bid to avoid the involvement of agents and reduce the time needed to bring them into the country, Malaysia’s state-owned news agency Bernama reported. At present, Malaysia has been issuing visas for foreign workers through an integrated visa processing one-stop-centres. The new scheme was unveiled by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi following the first Cabinet committee meeting on foreign workers and illegal immigrants on Tuesday, the media report said. “Soon, applications for foreign workers will not involve agents, but the employers must submit their applications online,” the report quoted Hamidi as saying. He said the online management system for foreign workers would be introduced soon to reduce the time needed to bring them into the country.
Malaysia has been hiring thousands of foreign workers from more than a dozen countries, including Nepal. A Nepali recruiting agency said that presently workers have to submit their documents to the Malaysian ministry and other agencies for their approval. Under the existing provision, it takes one to six months to obtain the visa approval letter. After the online facility is implemented, foreign workers will be approved visas within 48 hours of applying provided the paperwork is in order. “Employers will fill up the online forms, and the government will look into how many foreign workers are needed,” Hamidi said. “After that, the ministry concerned will liaise with the source country which has the list of registered workers to provide the number of workers requested. Several pre-conditions, such as data and the foreign worker’s biometrics, must be complied with before the delivery process is undertaken.” Zahid said that once the online application system is introduced, employers would be able to cut their costs as the government will be providing the service free of charge. The Malaysian government has also made some crucial decisions regarding the safety and security of foreign workers.
Employers will now be required to provide accommodation to foreign workers based on the minimum standards set by the Malaysian government. “The provision of accommodation by the employers will be made a pre-condition for the approval of applications by employers who intend to bring in foreign workers.” Centralized housing will be provided with basic amenities like dining area, toilets and prayer centres for different religions for humanitarian reasons and to reduce the risk of social problems and crime, the news report said. A pilot housing project had been carried out in Pengerang, Johor to accommodate 10,000 foreign workers in one housing area. Zahid added that the Cabinet meeting also decided that employers would be required to observe the principle of strict liability in their intake of foreign workers to ensure that they are fully accountable for the workers in their employ.
Malaysia has emerged as a major destination for Nepali migrant workers over the last two decades. According to officials of the Department of Foreign Employment, around 515,000 Nepali youths obtained labour permits in the last fiscal year to leave the country for foreign employment. Among them, around 40 per cent left for Malaysia.