So are you ready to become an international student in Malaysia?The process of applying to enter Malaysia as an international student is simple. You will join more than 122,000 other international students from 160 countries (1-1-2016). The popularity of Malaysia as a higher education destination continues to climb steadily as the country offers an increasing variety of high quality courses at it universities and colleges.According to the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Malaysia is among the most preferred tertiary education countries among international students. UNESCO's International Students Mobility Survey 2014 ranked Malaysia as the 12th most preferred education destination in the world.
The Process of Becoming an International Student in Malaysia
Now that you are considering becoming an international student in Malaysia’s higher education institutions, you may be wondering where to begin in applying to study in this country. The chart below outlines the steps involved in preparing you to become an international student in Malaysia. There is no centralised system for international student application. As such, you’ll need to apply directly to the higher education institution(s) you are considering. For where and what to study in Malaysia, our education portal www.studymalaysia.com (established in 1998), is a great place to start in exploring your options.
1. Why study abroad?
Is the study abroad experience is what you’re looking for? Going abroad gives you global exposure and an opportunity to be independent and to accumulate valuable life experiences. You’ll make new friends with a large network of students from different parts of the world. These are the important ingredients to get employment.
2. Why Malaysia?
As an international student in Malaysia, you will be able to study for an international qualification very affordably. The cost of living here is low, allowing students to have a comfortable and affordable lifestyle. In addition, international students here will experience diverse cultures and have the chance to travel cheaply around the region.Applying for a student visa to study in Malaysia is a hassle-free process; working during semester breaks is also possible.
3. Identifying the right institution and course for you
What full-time course you want
The very first step in becoming an international student in Malaysia is to decide what full-time course you want to pursue. Some of the important things you need to consider are your career interests and abilities, your career goals, and your budget. Besides the field of study, you need to decide on the level and type of qualification you aspire to have as well as the course duration.
4. Submitting your application
As an international student, you can apply DIRECTLY to the educational institution of your choice. You are advised to apply only to institutions that are authorised to enrol international students. Applying to study at a Malaysian institution of your choice is simple. In general, you will need to complete the relevant international student application forms for your chosen course together with relevant fees and return it to the institution of your choice with the following documents:
Certified copies of all relevant examination results and academic certificates (preferably with copies translated in English if your documents are in another language)
English proficiency certificate
A completed accommodation form (if accommodation is required)
Photocopy of valid international passport (valid for at least 12 months from the expected date of entry to Malaysia) - all pages
Photocopy of identity card
Most recent passport-sized colour photograph (4 to 6 copies)
Personal medical examination report
Application forms can be obtained online from the institution’s website or from the institution’s overseas representative in your country. You will be asked for evidence of your academic achievement and proficiency in English. Ideally, you should apply at least three months before the intake date.
5. Getting an offer from the institution
You might apply for more than one institution for a place to study. Upon receiving your application, the institution will usually take 5 to 7 days to process it. If more than one institution offer you a place, you have to make a decision and accept only one, that is, the institution that best suits your needs.
6. Deciding on the best offer
Once you have decided on the institution and accepted the offer, your chosen institution will issue an ‘Offer of Place’ letter and send this offer letter to you. This letter will confirm the full-time course details and commencement dates, and include an invoice for the tuition fee, miscellaneous fees and accommodation fees. You then need to make arrangements for the payment of fees and you should request the institution to issue a receipt to you upon confirmation of payment.Once you accept the institution’s offer letter, they will apply for your Student Pass on your behalf. You will need to pay for the visa processing fee together with the fees for medical insurance, medical screening and immigration fees.
Immigration Procedures for Malaysian Student Pass/Visa
According to Immigration Rules and Regulations in Malaysia, all international students who wish to study in Malaysia at any level of education are required to have a valid Student Pass from the Department of Immigration Malaysia (IMI). A Student Pass enables a student to remain in Malaysia for the purpose of study at an approved institution for an approved course. For students of public universities and private higher educational institutions, IMI will issue the Student Pass for the entire period of study, subject to IMI’s terms and conditions.To enter Malaysia, international students need to have an Entry Visa or Visa Approval Letter (VAL) depending which country they are from, which is also issued by IMI.
1. Applying for a Student Pass and a Visa Approval Letter (VAL)
After you accept the institution’s offer, the next step is to apply for a student pass. The institution will apply for an approval for a student pass from the Malaysian Immigration Department, via Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) in Malaysia on your behalf (EMGS is a one-stop-centre for international student management and services created by the Ministry of Higher Education in 2012). Under this procedure, students do not need to apply directly to the Immigration Department for a student pass. The application by the institution will take 7 to 14 days, provided all documents are in order. The institution will then proceed to notify the student regarding the status (approved or rejected) of the student pass application. From 15 March 2016 onwards, students have the choice of applying for a Student Pass directly through EMGS via the STAR online portal once they have received an offer letter from the institution. The flexibility of being able to apply online for their student pass directly gives students better control over their applications and may result in a faster application turnaround time. Whether the student applies directly or through the institution, the student can track the status of their application online via the EMGS website.If your application is approved, you will receive a Visa Approval Letter (VAL) which is issued by IMI through the institution.Note: Students from Sub-Saharan Africa need to provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) together with other immigration documents for student visa application.
2. Applying for an Entry Visa
Once you have obtained the student pass or VAL, the next step is to plan your journey to Malaysia as a student. But before you do that, there is one more step – students who are citizens of the countries listed here must apply for an Entry Visa before coming to Malaysia.However, this list is subject to change from time to time so please check on the latest requirements with the Malaysian embassy in your country or the institution which has accepted your application.Alternatively, you can or log on to the Immigration Malaysia website for the latest visa requirements and other procedures before arranging your travel plans. Students from the visa-required countries Students from the visa-required countries must obtain a ‘Visa With Reference’ (VDR) from the Malaysia Representative Office in their home country before entering Malaysia. Students must also provide a ‘Visa Approval Letter’ (VAL) at the point of entry in Malaysia Students from the non visa required countries The students from Non Visa Required nationals are permitted to enter without a Visa With Reference (VDR). However, students must provide the ‘Visa Approval Letter’ (VAL) issued by IMI at the point of entry.
3. Preparing to travel to Malaysia
When preparing to travel to Malaysia, ensure you have all necessary documents such as a valid passport, VAL, Single Entry Visa (if applicable), air ticket, and necessary funds. You are advised to inform your chosen institution (at least 7 days in advance) of your flight details as you need a representative from the institution to assist you with immigration and custom clearance at the immigration check point.
4. Arriving at the Malaysian immigration check point
When you arrive at the airport or any other entry point in Malaysia, you’ll need to show your student pass approval letter (VAL) at the immigration check point. A Special Pass will be issued to refer you to the respective State Immigration Department where you will be issued a student pass. The special pass is usually be valid for 30 days from the date of entry. You will also be issued a visa on arrival (for students from non visa required nations) at the entry point in the form of an endorsement on your passport.A representative from the institution will be at the immigration check point to receive and attend to you when clearing the immigration checkpoint. After the immigration clearance, the representative will be responsible for transferring you to the educational institution to report your arrival.The most common entry point (port of entry) for international students is the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Other entry points include Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Sabah); Kuching International Airport (Sarawak), and Penang International Airport (Penang). Some students also enter Malaysia immigration check points via land routes from Singapore, Thailand or Indonesia.Students coming from yellow fever endemic areas (such as Africa, and Central and South America) are required to obtain the necessary inoculations before coming to Malaysia.
5. Immigration matters – within 30 days after you have arrived
a. Affixing the student pass sticker and paying the Student Pass/Visa fees
The Special Pass issued to international students at the immigration check point is valid for 30 days. As such, the educational institution is required to submit the student’s passport to the State Immigration Department within four weeks of their arrival to enable a student pass sticker to be affixed.The student pass and visa are endorsed in the student’s passport by the Malaysian Immigration Department. The endorsement indicates their visa type, their length of stay in Malaysia, the number of entries permitted into Malaysia and the validity of the student pass. International students with VAL will be issued with a Multiple Entry Visa.The fee for a student pass is RM60.00 a year (or part of a year) while visa fees range from RM15 to RM90 depending on the student’s county of origin. All payments of fees, issuance of student passes and visas as well as renewal of student passes can be done at the respective State Immigration Departments.Previously, a student pass needed to be renewed yearly. However, with effect from 2016, the validity period of a Student Pass will be for the entire duration of study, subject to the validity of the student’s passport. A Multiple Entry Visa fee is charged by the Department of Immigration depending on the student’s nationality.
b. Medical screening
Students need to undergo a medical screening within 7 days after entering Malaysia. You have to consult your institution and download the standard prescribed form from the EMGS website. Your institution will help you make an appointment at an EMGS approved clinic for the medical screening. You are required to bring along the form and a copy of your passport to the clinic.
c. Submitting the documents required for a student pass
To convert your special pass to a student pass, your institution will submit your documents to the Malaysian Immigration Department Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur or the State Immigration Department. All student pass applications (in Peninsular Malaysia) are processed through EMGS. Here’s a list of the documents you must supply your institution:
Offer letter (or letter of acceptance) from the higher educational institution
1 signed copy of IMM 14 form
2 passport-sized photographs with white background (3.5cm x 5cm)
1 copy of ALL pages of student’s passport with certified pages
The passport must be valid for at least 12 months from the expected date of entry
Pre-arrival medical examination report from student’s home country
Academic and other certificates certified as a true copy by the institution issuing the document or a commissioner of oaths, notary public or lawyer (must be certified according to EMGS certification requirements)
Personal Bond form duly stamped
Locally purchased health insurance policy
No Objection Certificate (NOC) for students from Sub-Saharan Africa (if applicable)
A copy of letter of support from the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
Payment for the following
EMGS visa processing fee
Immigration fees e.g. Student Pass, Visa, Special Pass, i-Kad, etc.
Medical insurance premium if it is purchased from EMGS
Medical screening fee
d. Getting your i-Kad
An i-Kad will be issued to students who have a valid student pass. The i-Kad is an identification card for international students which contains the student’s particulars, e.g. name, passport number, student pass expiry date, and institution information. It is an identity card which is recognised by all law enforcement agencies in Malaysia. It is also a valid travel document within Peninsular Malaysia. Please note that the i-Kad is not a replacement of your passport . Your passport is still be requested by government authorities for verification. The i-Kad is issued for the full duration of your programme of study. Dependents include the following categories:
Mother and father of students (subject to age restrictions)
The spouse and children of students
Each individual is advised to have a separate passport when applying for the dependent pass.
Settling In As A Student
Starting your life as a university or college student can be overwhelming, what more in a different country where you’re far from home and your loved ones. Some students may have little difficulty adjusting to life on campus, but if you’re nervous about fitting in, don’t worry – most students experience some form of ‘culture shock’ in some form or another. These tips may help ease your transition and give you the boost you need for an exciting and fulfilling experience as a student.
Enrol and attend the orientation session at your education institution
Join a social group like a society or club at your university or college
Stay positive, try talking to others who have been through the same situation
Spend time with other students – both from other countries and Malaysia – and try to make friends
Be flexible and try to adapt to the change – keep an open mind: learn about local culture and share your culture with others
If you need to talk to someone, try a friend, a senior, or the student counsellor at your education institution
When doing group work, try to work with different team members each time
Start on your assignments early! It will reduce the stress of worrying about it as the deadline draws nearer
Plan your time so that you have a balanced schedule for your studies and campus activities
Call home and speak to your family about your experiences, both positive or otherwise