Once you’ve successfully submitted your MM2H application, you will receive an automated email confirming receipt and providing an email address for any queries. There’s not much you can do now aside from wait.

In theory, you should get your conditional approval letter after about three months, but in my experience it can take a lot longer. In my case, it was nine months. The whole process, from application to obtaining my Malaysia My Second Home visa, took almost exactly one year.

Probably best not to make any plans that are dependent on getting your visa by a given date 😉

I was warned when I applied that it may take longer than three months, as there was a backlog. They anticipated about five months. However, the then-new government decided to change the process, and required the involvement of an additional department – the Ministry of Home Affairs – in vetting applicants. This led to a severe backlog, and very little information forthcoming as to the likely length of delay. Agents and direct applicants alike found themselves in the dark. 

Having applied in early July 2018, come early 2019 I began to worry that perhaps my application had been lost. There is an online tracker here, which I had been keeping a regular eye on. My application had progressed to ‘Pending Committee Approval’ fairly early on, then not moved for many months. 

As it turns out, you shouldn’t rely on the online tracker, as it is never updated. My application is still showing as ‘Pending Committee Approval’ even at the time of writing, despite the fact that I now have my visa!

In February 2019, I emailed the MM2H Centre for an update, mainly to check that my application was still in progress and hadn’t gone astray. They replied within minutes (which was quite impressive!), advising that it had been brought to their Committee Meeting but that they were waiting for approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, the waiting period was ’uncertain’.

In April, I emailed again, and was advised that a task force had been set up to work through the backlog, with applications being ‘processed more quickly than before’ – but no other update as to when mine might be addressed.

Now, by this point my plans for moving to Malaysia were well advanced. During the first few months of the year, I made several trips from the UK to Kuala Lumpur, during which I made arrangements to rent an apartment, and in mid-April I made my official ‘emigration’ flight, bringing all my stuff with me*, and moved in.

At this point I did not have my MM2H visa (nor could I be certain I would be granted it, although I felt fairly confident, as I knew I was able to meet all the requirements). So I knew I would have to leave Malaysia temporarily in mid-July at the latest, as my stay was on a tourist visa, allowing a maximum 90-day visit.

Potentially I might also have to do the same in mid-October, and mid-January – by which point I suspect the Immigration Department might have started taking issue with repeated regular ‘visa runs’. I reckoned two or three such trips would probably be fine, especially with an MM2H application in progress, but basically living in Malaysia on a tourist visa, with quarterly trips away, would probably not be tolerated for long. So it was a risk, but one I felt confident in taking, and really only a fairly small one – worst case, I’d have to return to the UK after a year.

So having waited nine months for my conditional approval letter, I could wait no longer, and went ahead with my move to Malaysia. Of course, when the letter was finally issued, it was sent to my old address back in the UK – but that’s another story, which you can read about in my next article: Receive your letter of conditional approval.

*As an aside…

Having made frequent trips to Malaysia over several years, I hold Enrich Platinum status with Malaysia Airlines. This is useful, because it gives you 100% extra checked baggage allowance, which means you get a total of 40kg in Economy, 80kg in Business, and 100kg in First (now renamed ‘Business Suite’…). 

Over the course of three or four preceding trips, I had each time taken a guitar and a suitcase full of clothes and other bits and pieces, which were duly left in the care of long-suffering friends – while I then took the empty suitcase back to England ready for the next trip… Having spent most of 2018 variously eBaying off as many possessions as I could, and sending what I couldn’t sell to charity or recycling, I’d still managed to fill the loft of my soon-to-be-rented-out house in England with stuff I wanted to keep but didn’t need to take with me to Malaysia. And yet this still left me with around 100kg of stuff I did want to take… I know, I know, I could have travelled light – but I wanted to take a guitar amp and various other bits of music and computer gear with me…

I looked into the cost of shipping it: several thousand pounds, and several months. It actually worked out more cost-effective to buy a First Class return ticket! Albeit this was made slightly cheaper by purchasing Hong Kong-to-London via Kuala Lumpur as the outbound (on Malaysia Airlines), and then London-KL-Hong Kong (with a loooong stopover) as the return. (It’s almost always cheaper to buy your plane ticket to start from somewhere other than where you actually are and end somewhere other than where you want to be, going via your intended destination as a stopover… 😉 And Hong Kong is a good option as – until recently, at least – there were no taxes on flights departing from there.)

I needed to be in Hong Kong in February 2019 for a conference anyway, so I used Virgin Flying Club miles to fly London-to-Hong Kong one way direct with Virgin Atlantic, then flew back from there with Malaysia Airlines as the outbound part of my First Class ticket, so that the return leg from London to KL in April allowed me to make full use of my baggage allowance. I’ll use the final KL-HK leg later in 2019.

The good thing about Malaysia Airlines is that they don’t limit the number of pieces of checked baggage you can take, so long as the total weight is within limit. Mine came to three large suitcases and a cardboard box (containing my computer monitor, in its original packaging – always worth keeping in case you need to emigrate! – additionally padded out with towels and bed linen stuffed into every available space inside the box). Total weight: 97kg. Damn! I could have brought more! 😉 But I think that makes up for all the times I’ve travelled hand-baggage only and not made any use at all of my checked baggage allowance…

So I emigrated in style! Took all my stuff with me, didn’t have to wait months for it to arrive, and even had Malaysia Airlines’ fantastic ‘Meet & Greet’ service on arrival to help me collect my luggage and get it into a taxi!

One final thing to note – I took the precaution of booking a hotel room for the first couple of nights (well actually a serviced apartment across the road from the building that would shortly become home). With an early-evening arrival into KLIA this meant I didn’t have to stress about moving into my apartment immediately and could spend the whole of the next day dealing with that and getting everything ready, before moving across the following morning. All of which worked out incredibly well.