Henley & Partners facilitates global citizens who are looking to make Malaysia their home-away-from-home
There is a growing trend towards individuals wanting to live a more mobile and less restrictive life, one where they can take advantage of opportunities internationally as well as make a contribution on a global level.
In an unsettled, ever-changing world, acquiring an alternative residence or citizenship is increasingly being seen as the most worthwhile investment in one’s future. It reduces exposure to risk, secures your family’s future and opens up new opportunities for you and your business.
Increasingly popular worldwide, residence-by-investment programmes provide a mutually beneficial solution for a growing movement of global citizens as well as governments seeking to drive economic growth.
By offering greater choice, opportunity, freedom and security to talented and wealthy individuals from other countries, governments in turn secure much-needed foreign investment and enrich their own citizens by attracting people with proven business success and valuable networks.
This is where Henley & Partners comes in. The company is the leading international residence and citizenship advisory firm, operating in over 25 offices worldwide.
In the 1990s, the firm developed the concept of residence and citizenship planning at a time when most international lawyers and wealth planning professionals didn’t consider the subject to be of much relevance. Over the years, Henley & Partners has pioneered the industry, emerging as the world’s leading firm to specialise in this area of practice.
Business Today speaks to Dominic Volek, Head of Southeast Asia at Henley & Partners about his thoughts on the trend and what opportunities Malaysia holds for these global citizens.
Henley & Partners throughout the years have been providing people who want to live and work transnationally with holistic and integrated solutions to the many challenges and opportunities of being a truly global citizen.
“We do this by giving them access to a global network of experienced and talented specialists from a wide range of industries and sectors who are able to provide them with meaningful advice on the residence and citizenship opportunities available worldwide,” says Volek.
Malaysia, in the grand scheme of things, has made a name for itself as being a destination for such global citizens – all through the Malaysia My Second Home programme or MM2H for short.
Since the inception of the programme in 2002, over 32,000 applications have been approved. Malaysia is one of the region’s most vibrant economies as a result of its continued industrial growth and political stability.
It is an open upper-middle income economy and the third largest in the region. It also offers a relatively low cost of living, particularly when compared to its neighbour Singapore.
“Tourism and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, recently stated that the MM2H programme had contributed positively to the economy of Malaysia with an estimated RM2.9 billion contributed in 2016. This amount included the collection of visa fees of RM6.85 million (mn), the opening of permanent saving accounts in Malaysia at RM542.55mn and property purchases at RM673.9mn,” he shares.
Since the programme’s inception in 2002 to December 2016, Chinese nationals continue to make up the largest portion of successful applicants at more than 25%, followed by Japan (13%), Bangladesh (11%) and the United Kingdom (7%). The rest of the top ten nationalities over the entire duration of the programme include Iran, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Pakistan and India.
In recent years, Chinese nationals have steadily increased their interest making up 33% of total successful applications in 2015 and 45% in 2016. We have also seen increased approvals for both the US and Australian nationals.
How to Become One
“So what are some of the requirements?” you may ask. Volek reveals that applicants to the MM2H programme need to meet certain requirements in order to be granted a 10-year, multiple-entry visa. These include the ability to demonstrate that they can support themselves financially in Malaysia without seeking employment or government assistance.
Financially, applicants below the age of 50 are required to provide proof of bankable assets of at least RM500,000, and proof of bankable offshore income of at least RM10,000 per month. Applicants over the age of 50 are required to provide proof of bankable assets of at least RM350,000, and proof of bankable offshore income of at least RM10,000 per month.
“For applicants below 50 years old, they must also open a bank account and deposit at least RM300,000. After a period of one year, up to RM150,000 may be withdrawn for approved expenses relating to a house purchase, the education of children in Malaysia or medical purposes. A minimum balance of RM150,000 must then be maintained from the second year onwards and throughout the stay in Malaysia under the programme,” he adds.
Applicants who are 50 years old and above, their bank account must be opened with a deposit of at least RM150,000 and after a period of one year, up to RM50,000 may be withdrawn for similar approved expenses, as above. The minimum balance of RM100,000 must be maintained from the second year onwards.
Successful applicants are also required to purchase medical insurance from any insurance company in Malaysia and obtain a medical report from any private hospital or registered clinic in Malaysia.
“However, a change to the financial requirements for the programme is expected to be announced in the near future with authorities proposing to raise the requirements on bankable assets at the time of application as well as the amount of the fixed deposit upon approval,” shares Volek.
That said, the multiple-entry visa is valid for 10 years and is renewable. It is important to note, however, that this visa does not allow the applicant to work in Malaysia, nor does it lead to permanent residence or citizenship. The MM2H programme allows foreigners to stay in Malaysia on a multiple-entry social visit pass only.