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U.S. citizens may enter Malaysia without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. Tourist visas are granted upon arrival at local immigration. The typical allowance is 90 days, but this is not guaranteed; check your visa stamp before leaving the airport to be sure of your allotted time. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need a “long-stay visa” which typically extends your visa for two additional months. Malaysia actively polices visa overstays; if you overstay your visa, you could be subject to fines or detention followed by legal action.
Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, though, Malaysia actively encourages foreign residents to relocate here—they just don’t want you staying illegally. Excellent incentives are available if you qualify for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program. Permanent residency is offered and comes with a host of incentives to entice foreigners here.
The government’s MM2H program, easy place to live or retire. The MM2H program provides you with a retirement visa that is valid for up to 10 years, duty-free importation of personal belongings, a duty-free allowance to import or purchase an automobile, and a reduction in the required minimum purchase price of a home in the state of Penang.
To qualify under the age of 50, you must show liquid assets of at least 500,000 ringgits and an offshore (non-Malaysian) income of at least 10,000 ringgits per month. In addition, you must open a fixed-deposit account of at least 300,000 ringgits at a Malaysian bank. To qualify over the age of 50, you must show 350,000 ringgits in assets and an offshore income of at least 10,000 ringgits per month. You have your choice of opening either a fixed-deposit account of at least 150,000 ringgits or showing proof that you have a pension paid out by a government source of at least 10,000 ringgits.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of MM2H status is the tax status it gives you. As a MM2H resident in Malaysia, all your foreign-source income, including pension, interest, and dividend income, as well as foreign earned income, is exempt from Malaysian taxes. Note, though, that income from employment or business within Malaysia is taxable.
Residency in Malaysia can lead to naturalization in this country, but there are several requirements, including renunciation of prior citizenship and “an elementary knowledge of the Malay language.”