Sabah MM2H change of rules?

I got my mm2h from Sabah 10 years ago, and been living in Kuala Lumpur.  (My mm2h visa from sabah says, Im entitle to live in Sabah & Western Malaysia)  However , when I applied to renew my visa (as 10 years is almost over)  through an agent they were informed that I cannot renew it, as I am not living in Sabah, and my property is in KL.  It was total devastation for me, as I was not told before that this will happen to me.  I have been going to Sabah everytime I renew my passport.  I now have to start the whole process and apply in KL.  Just wanted to know if anybody else has gone throught this.

This is the first time I have come across this issue - and that's probably because the MM2H programme is just 10 years old I believe, so renewals are now being processed.

I did come across this wording on an Agent's website, however.

"All applications for people who want to live in West (Peninsular) Malaysia are submitted to the Second Home Centre in the Ministry of Tourism which has information about the programme. Applications to live in Sabah or Sarawak have to be submitted to the respective State Immigration Office. We can assist with application for Peninsular Malaysia and if you need to find an agent in Sabah we can help you with that as well. If you wish to live in Sarawak you will have to contact the authorities in that state, as they do not permit agents to assist with submissions of applications."

Hopefully your reapplication will go smoothly.

Thanks for raising this issue.

Did your Agent suggest making an Appeal?

I think there are quite a lot of people who will be affected by the issue you have highlighted.  So if you could provide feedback of an appeal or any developments it would be fantastic.  Tq.

Interesting issue. I can see that one would have to reapply in Sabah as that is where one originally obtained the visa. The bigger issue is the land issue. Are you able to purchase land in the Peninsula under the Sarawak or Sabah M2H programs. They state "You can live anywhere within Malaysia..." but I'm not sure if the other provisions apply outside of those states.

The OP apparently has already obtained property on his Sabah MM2H Pass so I'm doubtful he will lose it...after all they approved it when he purchased the property. I'm curious if Sabah also allowed him to withdraw from his fixed account at the time? He simply needs to return to KK and submit again, and continue on as before.

But how does this apply to PT jobs? Could a Sarawak visa holder apply to the one stop center for a PT position on the Peninsula? If they get healthcare/treatment on the Peninsula  can they apply to have the Fixed Account remitted for that amount?

I'm a bit confused about the OP's issue the more I read.

"I have been going to Sabah everytime I renew my passport. "  I'm not sure what he means by this. Has he applied for renewal before?

  "However , when I applied to renew my visa (as 10 years is almost over)  THROUGH AN AGENT THEY were informed that I cannot renew it, as I am not living in Sabah, and my property is in KL.  It was total devastation for me, as I was not told before that this will happen to me. "

The problem appears to be what the agent  is saying, and not  necessarily what immigration in Sabah will allow. IF this is an agent in the Peninsula they may not be allowed to operate in Sabah or have the people to submit the paperwork there. This is simply laziness on their part and an unwillingness to be honest with the client. $$$$.

A Sabah agent may resolve the problem. Or he may have to go there himself. If the visa states he can live "anywhere in Sabah or Peninsula Malaysia" and his original Conditional Letter doesn't state that he can ONLY purchase property in Sabah, then they should renew it. They would do so if he was renting, after all.

If anything the issue would be with purchasing property on the Peninsula "under the MM2H program". But they have already allowed this, presumably looking at the visa and documents at the time of purchase.  There is no document that states that a house purchased at a normal price can be taken away even if one leaves the program entirely. And it's not like the tax-free car (where you actually pay a lower amount) where they have specific rules about selling the vehicle and the procedures of paying back the excise tax.  There is just a lower floor for house purchase for MM2H recipients.

I think it is simply a greedy, lazy or ignorant agent (perhaps all three)  providing erroneous information.

Anyone can purchase property in peninsular Malaysia and KL or Selangor have no lower thresholds for MM2H holders. They don't even need any form of immigration pass to do so. So the property purchase is not the issue and is moot.

Presumably it's Sabah immigration that has declined to renew. If not direct contact with them is advisable. Everybody knows that Appeals are possible.

Because of State immigration policies it probably explains why free movement to peninsular Malaysia is mentioned. But that perhaps doesn't include residency. No stamp in passport is required for foreigners entering KL from Sabah or Sarawak because of the Federal rules. However the same is not the case for entering from peninsular Malaysia to East Malaysia.

We'll probably not hear back from Maldives. But I still think the agent, if from the Peninsula, simply gave a cock-and-bull story about Sabah immigration not accepting "because  yadayadayada". They wanted the $$$ and didn't want to (or were not allowed to) submit the renewal in KK.

It makes no sense that Sabah would not allow someone to purchase property or live in the peninsula when you don't have to purchase property in Sabah. I agree, appeal. But likely there has never been a formal rejection. After all, wouldn't one receive a letter from Sabah MM2H that the visa was being rescinded if he violated the terms?

The Agent was in Sabah. However, I know multiple people who are now living outside Sabah holding the Sabah MM2H - so if that is the ruling, it is going to affect a lot of people at the time of renewal. As things tend to take time, lobbying now might be prudent.

You spoke with the individual personally? The OP doesn't say where the agent was in the post.

Im sorry I could not update on my status. I myself spoke to the Director of visa in Sabah immigration, and she was very firm on this. Said there can be no apeal. I wrote to the Ministry and there was no help. They said Sabah has seperste jurisdiction and they cant help me. I even wrote to the Prime ministers office, did not get a reply.

They did and I called the immigration directly and spoke to the Director, she was very strict and told me I cannot apeal  I can only be given visa if I have property and living in Sabah.

I'm a bit confused about what "this" is? Are you disqualified because

1) you didn't purchase property in Sabah (what about renters, or those not permanently staying in Sabah)?
2) you were not living in Sabah (but the peninsula)?
3)  That you were using a peninsula agent rather than reapplying personally in Sabah?

My Visa was denied:

1. I do not have property in Sabah
2. I was not living in Sabah.

I visited Sabah immigration everytime my passport was renewed to stamp my mm2h visa, they never asked me and never told me this will happen.

The Sabah policies seem very unclear...I can't get a copy of their rules on-line. But it seems that they may have shifted their policies to more of a "property scheme". The fact that they didn't grandfather you in under the old rules also seems a bit foreboding. And that they gave you no time to appeal.

For example, in appeal you could have shown them you Conditional Letter and pointed out that the letter makes no reference to buying property in Sabah. Or you may have been able to hunt down the former immigration director or staff who signed the letter and asked if they would affirm that they had no "property purchase" requirement when you renewed.

The fact that they would not grant a waiver, even for a year, until you had either fulfilled the new requirements or until you had obtained a MM2H seems odd.

Sorry to pummel you with questions but for most of us the Sabah program is a bit of an enigma? There is nothing about it specifically on the internet.

Can I ask how many times you had renewed? You say "every time" that implies at least two times of renewal and/or transfer to a new passport.

Were you given a 10 year visa?

Did you ever live/rent in Sabah?

Did you have a Fixed Deposit in a Sabah branch bank? Or were you under a pension option?

Did they mention what the new requirements were regarding income/fixed deposit amount/ etc. for those applying NOW?

Are you withdrawing from the program (this might be better than having the visa the latter may interfere with reapplication under MM2H). Also it's important you get formal documentation od some sort so that you can establish that the reason you cannot continue with Sabah MM2H is because of the rule against not being a resident/property owner in Sabah. That could then be shown, if necessary to the MM2H authorities. Maybe tell the Sabah Immigration that you need a letter explaining the situation as to why you no longer qualified for the Sabah program so that you can apply to the MM2H.

The implication of your problems is that even renting property in Sabah may not be sufficient to qualify for their program. Otherwise you could rent a low range property for awhile and show the payments.

In any case, this actually is not beneficial to their recruitment of applicants to their program. The certainly need more transparency about what they require and that this should be on the Conditional Letter.

A relevant article....

Sabah DCM says MM2H not Suspended in Sabah

If the rules are the same as the Peninsula MM2H then why is residency in Sabah (or Malaysia) even an issue?


I did ask them for a letter. But they will not. My visa was terminated. And that letter was given to me. I dont know maybe this is the result of beign honest. I did mention in my cover letter that it has been 10 years Im living in this beautiful country. Bought a property in Kuala Lumpur, my son studied from Junior school to High School etc.  Maybe I should not have mentioned about the property etc. It was the agent suggestion to make the renewal attractive. Which I think was good.

Think the essence is the mm2h visas give access to all of Malaysia without time limit but residence must be maintained where Mm2h is obtained.

If soneone could have told me that. The approval letter did not even mention that. The visa states. That im entitled to live in Sabah & Western Malaysia.

This is the directive from one of the very first agents appointed to assist with peninsular Mm2h applications.

It seems your agent was not aware when advising you.

"MM2H visa holders can stay anywhere in Malaysia except Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo where they need to convert to the Sabah/ Sarawak version. Conversion not an easy process and it requires a fresh MM2H visa application. Therefore, you need to decide if you want to stay in Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah/Sarawak."

Gravitas wrote:

This is the directive from one of the very first agents appointed to assist with peninsular Mm2h applications.

It seems your agent was not aware when advising you.

"MM2H visa holders can stay anywhere in Malaysia except Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo where they need to convert to the Sabah/ Sarawak version. Conversion not an easy process and it requires a fresh MM2H visa application. Therefore, you need to decide if you want to stay in Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah/Sarawak."

Maldives HAD the Sabah MM2H and was allowed to stay in the Peninsula. He did not have a Peninsular MM2H and wanted to live in Sarawak or Sabah.

If the rule above prevented Sarawak/Sabah MM2H recipients from living in the Peninsula it should have said

"MM2H holders can live anywhere in Peninsular Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak MM2H holders are not allowed to reside in Peninsular Malaysia."

Why doesn't the agent state "Peninsula Malaysia" in the first line?

The OFFICIAL Sarawak government website states that "The visa issued to Participants of the MM2H Sarawak programme allows the participant to reside anywhere in Malaysia." Clearly that is in direct contradiction to what the agent stated in the last line above.

It appears that Sabah (which doesn't publish its policies anywhere, on any document or website), have "moved the goalposts" by requiring residency IN Sabah. Even stranger is the possibility that one could have a permanent residence in Australia or Thailand or the UK (and rent in Sabah, or just visit sporadically) and  have no issue with immigration.

BTW Maldives...could you answer the questions I had in #15. I'm asking them to find out precisely what their rationale was?

Also, since the actual income/FD requirements are the same...Sabah vs. Peninsular Malaysia was there any issue in transferring your Sabah MM2H to Peninsula MM2H? I can see there being an issue with the "temporary" suspension of the program and long wait...but maybe one could make the transfer more easily (in terms of getting approvals) than starting the process entirely anew. After all you have local police clearance (good behavior) have a FD already in Malaysia, etc.

Nothing has changed.

Can't live in Peninsular Malaysia full time on Sabah mm2h. Its quite clear. Trying to justify with property bought in KL is shooting oneself in the foot.

Perhaps choice of international schooling may just have worked.

Remember Sarawak has its own immigration policies. They are different from West Malaysia and Sabah.

Inventing scenarios is very misleading and unhelpful. There is no transfer as no Mm2h is any longer held. Quite clear to apply where one intends to live.

The policy proof lies in the refusal to nenew. Full stop.

Mm2h is a visa-free entry pass which is expressed on the passport sticker.

Thank you all for your views. I think this was the result of not doing home work before choosing an agent. I should have chosen from Kuala Lumpur instead of Sabah. But it was clearly not knowing any difference. First I wrote to 7 agents randomly out of which this agent responded fast and efficiently. When my visa was approved they told me i have to fly to Sabah to stamp the visa. I asked them why I have to fly to Sabah. I want live in KL. They said thats fine, even its from Sabah you can still live in KL. Once again thank you all. I have enjoyed 10 years in Malaysia and it will be very close to my heart. Buying a property, sending my child to an international school since age 9  etc. I think i must have contributed my fair share to the country as a whole. Maybe not to Sabah.

Your error was understandable...agents in Sabah indicate that one can apply in Sabah and live anywhere (except Sarawak) in Malaysia.

"Participants under the Sabah MM2H programme are allowed to stay in any other states in Malaysia except for Sarawak. However, the MM2H participants are allowed to visit Sarawak on the normal visitor's visa granted by Immigration Sarawak. As for the participants under the West Malaysia MM2H, they are only allowed to stay in the states in West Malaysia. They can visit both Sabah and Sarawak under the normal visitor's visa issued by the respective states.

This is why I believe that the policies in Sabah have changed over the decade since you originally applied. The agent may have been honestly telling you what they understood was the regulation/policy at the time. But the application of those regulations/policy have changed." 

"Buying a home is not a prerequisite...under this program, you may purchase any number of residential properties in Malaysia, subject to the minimumprice established for foreignors by the different States."

Getting 'proof' from websites is not useful. Bring something to the table from official sources.

In any event it is always possible to appeal an immigration decision.

It's kinda clear that the 3 different Mm2h programmes are not interchangeable.

This discussion is moot.

"Applications for those wishing to reside in Peninsula Malaysia are accepted at the MM2H One-Stop centre in Kuala Lumpur. Where the applicant wishes to reside in the states of Sabah or Sarawak, applications need to be sent to the respective Immigration offices or MM2H One-Stop centres in either of these states. Details are available on the site."

Gravitas wrote:

Getting 'proof' from websites is not useful. Bring something to the table from official sources.

So why did you quote an agents website from the Peninsula as authoritative in #20 above?

Maldives applied in Sabah, not the Peninsula, a decade ago. Agents in Sabah informed him at THAT time (and as are indicated on their websites) that he could apply in Sabah and reside in the Peninsula.

It's clear that the directive that is cited on the was, at one point the regulation allowing residency in the Peninsula was  in force.

The independant Immigration policies of the States of Sabah and Sarawak regarding the movements of people into their States date  back to  MA63 long before the development of MM2H or it's predecessor Silver-Haired Program. Each Bornean state was allowed to establish their own policies. There is no doubt about that. The Peninsula has not restricted Sarawak M2H or Sabah M2H access to living in the Peninsula. The question is whether Sabah had restrictions even tighter than Sarawak. Sarawak allows restricts residency in Sarawak to SarawakM2H recipients. But it allows them to live in the Peninsula or even outside Malaysia. 

You seem to be arguing that Sabah had  even more restrictive regulations when it established the program - that they not only require those living in Sabah to have the Sabah M2H but also that they mandate residency in Sabah.

Since you KNOW this I would long is residency established. How does immigration establish this? Does one have to regularly check in with immigration and show entry/exit stamps and these are counted up? Can one maintain a residence in Sabah and the Peninsula? Can one live outside Malaysia?

His own letter of motivation during the application for renewal confirmed his residency (see earlier postings).

Government websites are useful to determine Mm2h rules.

It's clear from stamps in passport copy always requested by immigration where people have been these days. Various databases are also in use.

I'm sure other people have or will be caught out by not doing sufficient research. I mentioned that Maldives had kindly raised an alert to a couple I know on Sabah mm2h but living elsewhere. They seemed disinterested.

I guess it's impossible to know how many people have been caught out by false commercially sourced information.

Could you provide the Sabah government website for Sabah MM2H?

You can I am sure. Fact remains 3 separate Mm2h programmes.

Very clear that it depends where you want to live which one you apply to.

End of story in the case of  unfortunate Maldives

I seem to recall you wrote at some point that you are aware of this in conjunction with the Sarawak programme which you are on.

There would be no need for a separate Sabah mm2h if it was to be viewed as the same as the West Malaysia one.

The devil is always in the detail.

This is the information given on the government Mm2h website



Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Important Note
Submission Address
Individual direct applications for Peninsular Malaysia are to be submitted to:

Ministry of Tourism Malaysia,
Level 1, No. 2, Tower 1, Jalan P5/6,
Presint 5, 62200 W.P. Putrajaya,

Phone : +603 8891 7424/+603 8891 7427/+603 8891 7434/+603 8891 7439
Fax : +603 8891 7415
email : [email protected]

Department of Immigration, Sabah
Aras 1-4, Block B,
Kompleks Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan Sabah,
Jalan UMS,
88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Tel : +6088–488700
Fax : +6088–488800

Public Relations,
ICT Unit and Sarawak / Malaysia My Second Home Programme "One Stop Agency"
Ministry of Urban Development & Tourism
Level 2, Bangunan Baitulmakmur,
Medan Raya, Petra Jaya,
93050 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Tel : +6082 319313 / 309
Fax : +6082 441277 / 5311
Email : [email protected]
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Interesting discussion, some I need to consider if I opt to go that route down the line. Our house is here in KL, and I would want to keep that as home base. But something happened to my spouse I maybe open to spending some of my time in Sabah (have in-laws there) and some in KL. I'd have to probably keep one foot in each place.

But one thing I've discovered in 20+ years of being around Malaysia (only living here about 7 total) is that rules can change and dramatically and quickly. The rational for the changes aren't always clear, visible or remotely fair. The changes (or even the current rules) in the rules aren't always communicated well and there often policies that are NEVER disclosed. You get a reject and end up not having a clue to what changed. Some thing as simple as a new director just announces in a staff meeting that they won't be approving any new ......

So living here on a long term basis is a bit of gamble at times. I love it here, but lose a lot of sleep at times thinking about having to pack up and find another home. In my case moving back to US is not really an option, left my career, sold my houses/cars,  shipped everything I own and started a new life here. I had a minor stroke about 15 months ago and not really keen to try to go back to work anywhere anyway. Will probably apply for social security in the next year or two and wind down into retirement.

For now I'm just teaching on-line for a US based university and that pays enough to get by. Not sure they would have renewed my contract anyway after the stroke. Which is something else to think about for those that are planning a career here, something like a stroke or heart attach - you're pretty much done regardless of well you recover. You will always be considered damaged.

I know this is off topic, but it drives to the heart of the matter. Rules aren't always communicated clearly, they change arbitrarily, aren't necessarily applied fairly and as such one must be prepared to have a back up plan or two or three.

Just my two cents, as an insurance, have you thought of Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, just in case things get sour with MM2H
It might be something worth looking at

caesar1956 wrote:

Just my two cents, as an insurance, have you thought of Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, just in case things get sour with MM2H
It might be something worth looking at

All excellent choices, actually Vietnam is on the list as well.

Based on availability of a retirement visa Sri Lanka is easy and English is widely spoken and used by government departments. Colombo is a good little city and plenty of things to see and do for foreigners. Very relaxed place often overlooked. … mp;lang=en

Hi Gravitas, cinammonape
Im planing to apply for mm2h in kuala lumpur, will my previous visa will help in this new application. Do I need to write them that my visa renewal was rejected by Sabah for the said reason?

I am currently in UK, going back in few days. Can I extend my visit visa after 90 days or do I need to go back to Maldives and come back?

I think the the less said the better off you will be. Sometimes lawyers say "don't volunteer information". Clearly they will know that you have had a Sabah issued visa. I'd simply say something like "I prefer to reside in the Peninsula" if they ask why.