How to Work in Malaysia as an OFW

“Malaysia, truly Asia” was a catchy slogan used to promote tourism in this beautiful country. Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is known for its breathtaking landscapes, diverse culture, and yummy cuisine. At the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, you will find the iconic Petronas Towers, which is among the tallest buildings in the world!

Aside from being a popular tourist destination, Malaysia is also a top choice among foreign workers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Many Pinoys come here to work in agriculture, construction, education, healthcare, and other industries.

In this article, we will discuss how Filipinos can become OFWs in Malaysia. We’ll be taking about the requirements, procedures, in-demand jobs, and other details. Keep on reading to learn more!

How to Work in Malaysia as an OFW


To be able to work in Malaysia, you need to have an Employment Pass. This permit will be valid for 1-5 years, depending on the job and period of employment. It may also be renewed.

Your employer in Malaysia will be the one responsible for getting your Employment Pass. Prior to this, he/she needs to get approval from the Expatriation Committee or relevant regulatory body first.

As for the qualifications, you as the applicant must:

  • Have the necessary academic qualifications for the job;
  • Have at least 3 years of relevant job experience;
  • Meet the necessary salary requirements; and
  • Not take up work in a restricted sector.

Aside from the Employment Pass, you may also need a Visa with Reference (VDR). Basically, this is an entry visa issued to foreign nationals for the purpose of long-term work or study in Malaysia.

Types of Employment Pass

The Employment Pass is a permit that allows foreign naturals to work in Malaysia under a contract of service. There are categories of Employment Passes, depending on the job position and salary.

1. Employment Pass – Category 1

This is assigned to foreign nationals who will hold key positions in the company (e.g. general directors, managing directors, managers of projects, etc.). Their monthly salary should be at least MYR 10,000, and their job contract must be valid for up to 5 years.

For this category, the Employment Pass may be renewed. The applicant will also be allowed to hire a foreign assistant.

2. Employment Pass – Category 2

This pass is given to foreign nationals who will hold managing and professional positions in the company (e.g. marketing managers, investment managers, architects, professors, etc.). Their monthly salary should be between MYR 5,000 and MYR 9,999, and their job contract must be valid for up to 2 years.

For this category, the Employment Pass may be renewed, as well. The applicant will also be allowed to hire a foreign assistant.

3. Employment Pass – Category 3

This work pass is issued to foreign nationals with job experience and specific technical or practical skills (e.g. fashion designers, food technologists, furniture designers, craftsmen, etc.). Their monthly salary should be between MYR 3,000 and MYR 4,999, and their job contract must be valid for up to 2 years.

Unlike the first two categories, the Employment Pass – Category 3 cannot be renewed more than twice. Also, the applicant is not allowed to hire a foreign assistant.


As mentioned earlier, your employer (or employment agency) is responsible for getting your Employment Pass on your behalf. For your part, you need to provide some important documents.

Here is a list of requirements for the Employment Pass:

  • Employment Pass application form;
  • Passport-sized photograph;
  • Copy of your passport (valid for at least 6 months before you enter Malaysia);
  • Employment contract;
  • Letter of approval from relevant regulatory body;
  • Your CV and education certificates; and
  • Company profile of your employer.

Most Popular Jobs in Malaysia for Overseas Filipino Workers

At present, the most active industries in Malaysia are: agriculture, construction and engineering, domestic work, education, financial services, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, information technology, manufacturing and production, oil and gas, retail and sales, and skilled trades.

Correspondingly, here is a list of the most in-demand jobs in the country, grouped according to industry:

  • Agriculture – farm workers, plantation laborers, etc.;
  • Construction and Engineering – architects, engineers, construction workers, etc.;
  • Domestic Work – cooks, domestic helpers, drivers, etc.;
  • Education – subject teachers, English language teachers, tutors, etc.;
  • Financial Services – accountants, bookkeepers, financial assistants, financial analysts, account managers, etc.;
  • Healthcare – nurses, doctors, caregivers, etc.;
  • Hospitality and Tourism – chefs, hotel staff, receptionists, tour guides, waiters, waitresses, etc.;
  • Information Technology (IT) – computer programmers, IT support, software developers, network engineers, etc.;
  • Manufacturing and Production – factory workers, managers, supervisors, machinists, quality inspectors, etc.;
  • Oil and Gas – engineers, project managers, technicians, piping engineers, etc.;
  • Retail and Sales – customer service representatives, retail managers, sales assistants, etc.; and
  • Skilled Trades – electricians, plumbers, welders, etc.

How to Become an OFW in Malaysia

Before anything else, you need to have an official job offer from a Malaysia-based employer. Here is an overview of the different steps involved in the hiring and deployment process.

First of all, you employer needs to get approval from the Expatriation Committee or relevant regulatory body regarding your employment. This stage is called “expatriate application.”

Once your expatriate application is approved, your employer will apply for an Employment Pass from the Immigration Department of Malaysia. The processing time for this is around 3 days.

When receive your Employment Pass, you may also need to get a Visa with Reference (VDR), which is an entry visa issued to those who will be working or studying in Malaysia for a long term. You can apply for this at the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate. In your case, there’s the Malaysian Embassy in Manila.

Bringing Your Family to Malaysia

Employment Pass holders have the option of bringing their families to Malaysia through the Dependent Pass. This can be issued to your wife and your dependent children (below 21 years old).

If your children are above 21 years old, they can still enter Malaysia through the Long-Term Social Visit Pass. Likewise, your parents can also come to the country using the Social Visit Pass.

NOTE: If your spouse wants to work in Malaysia, he/she needs to apply for his/her own work permit. Spouses are not allowed to work if they have a Dependent Pass only.

Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Malaysia

How can you be sure that a job opening is legitimate? If it is posted by a manpower agency that’s accredited by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), then it’s legit. Otherwise, be very careful… be sure to avoid illegal recruiters and scammers!

Here is a list of the manpower agencies that are licensed by the DMW to deploy OFWs to Malaysia:

  • 101 Mojo International Corporation;
  • 1010 Ephesians Human Resources Inc.;
  • 1st Northern International Placement Inc.;
  • 2000 Miles Placement Agency Inc.;
  • A-vantage International Recruitment Corp.;
  • A. Kanan Manpower Corporation;
  • ABCA International Corporation;
  • ABD Overseas Manpower Corp.;
  • Adel International Manpower Services;
  • Advance Group Link Manpower Services Inc.;
  • Age International Gulf Employment Co.;
  • Aguinaldo Recruitment Agency Inc.;
  • Al Awa’el International Manpower Inc.;
  • Al Manaf International Manpower Corp.;
  • Aqium International Inc.;
  • Archangel Global Solutions Incorporated;
  • Benchstone Enteprises Inc.;
  • Excel Green Kard International Inc.;
  • I-Rekrut Manpower Inc.;
  • J-Mac International Manpower Agency;
  • John Maurice International Inc.;
  • Jopman Corporation;
  • Juan Smart Manpower Phils. Co.;
  • LRC Manpower Services Internationale Inc.
  • Novation Resources Phil. Inc.;
  • Pacific Star International Employment Agency Corp.;
  • Prime Manpower Resources Development Inc.;
  • RRJM International Manpower Services Inc.;
  • Serviecon International Corp.;
  • Smartasia International Staffing Services;
  • STB-DJL Human Link Inc.;
  • Technoserve Co. Inc.;
  • Verdant Manpower Mobilization Center Inc.; and
  • Work Asia International Recruitment Agency Inc.

NOTE: Please head to the DMW official website to see the full list of manpower agencies that are accredited or licensed to recruit land-based as well as sea-based OFWs around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Meanwhile, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about how one can become an OFW in Malaysia:

1. Who are qualified to work in Malaysia?

Like most other jobs, you need to have the necessary academic qualifications and job experience. You also need to have an Employment Pass, which the employer will apply for on your behalf. You may also need a Visa with Reference (VDR), an entry visa given to those who will pursue long-term work or study in Malaysia.

2. What are the requirements?

To obtain an Employment Pass, you and your employer (or employment agency) need to prepare and submit: application form, your passport-sized photo, copy of your passport, job contract, letter of approval from relevant regulatory body, your CV and education certificates, and the employer’s company profile.

3. What are the most in-demand jobs for OFWs?

Currently, the most active industries in Malaysia are agriculture, skilled trades, construction and engineering, retail and sales, domestic work, oil and gas, education, manufacturing and production, financial services, information technology, hospitality and tourism, and healthcare.

Thus, the most in-demand jobs in the country include the following: plantation laborers, farm workers, plumbers, welders, architects, construction workers, retail managers, sales assistants, domestic helpers, cooks, engineers, technicians, subject teachers, tutors, factory workers, quality inspectors, account managers, financial analysts, software developers, computer programmers, hotel staff, tour guides, doctors, and nurses.

4. How can I become an OFW in Malaysia?

To become an OFW in Malaysia, you first need to have a job offer from an employer based in the country. He/She will apply for an Employment Pass on your behalf. Prior to this, the employer also needs to get approval from the Expatriation Committee or relevant regulatory body regarding your overseas employment.

5. How can I learn more about working in Malaysia?

To learn more about working in Malaysia as an OFW, you can get in touch with the Malaysian Embassy in Manila, whose contact details are provided below.

Contact Information: Malaysia Embassy in Manila

Here are the contact details and location map of the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines. It is based in Makati City, Metro Manila. Its office hours are between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, every Monday to Friday.

Address: Salcedo Village, 107 Tordesillas, Makati, 1227 Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 8662 8200

Google Map:

Video: How to Apply for Work in Malaysia

Are you interested in finding work in Malaysia? Check out the following video, which is shared by “glo pamplona vlog” on YouTube. In this video, the OFW vlogger shares about her experience on applying for a job in Malaysia:

Additional Reminders

Aside from making sure that your papers and other requirements are complete, you should also learn more about day-to-day life in Malaysia. Hence, we have put together the following tips and information about what it’s like to live in this country:

Get to know the diverse culture. Did you know that Malaysia has a multicultural population? In fact, there is a wide mix of Malay, Indian, and Chinese ethnicities. That being said, everyone exists in harmony. Like Filipinos, Malaysians also have high respect for elders and for people in authority. They are friendly, polite, and hospitable, plus they like to offer food and drinks to visitors.

Learn some basic greetings. The official language of Malaysia is Malay, although English is also widely used in schools and in the workplace. Being in a multicultural society, don’t be surprised to hear Chinese and Indian languages being used, as well.

You don’t have to be an expert in Malay, but learning some basic words and greeting is definitely a great idea! In fact, some Filipino and Malay words are actually the same or similar (e.g. mata = mata, payong = payung, lalaki = lelaki, pasok = masuk, etc.), so learning the language shouldn’t be too difficult for you!

Be respectful of other religions and customs. The predominant religion in Malaysia is Islam, which influences society, laws, and everyday life. Muslims pray several times a day, so you are likely to hear and see a “call to prayer” daily. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting, so you should be respectful of your colleagues who are fasting or not eating during break time.

In addition, you should also learn some etiquette and avoid what is considered as offensive behavior, for example:

  • Do not point or beckon with an outstretched finger;
  • Do not use your left hand to give or receive anything;
  • When eating, do not use your left hand because this is considered as impolite;
  • Dress modestly, especially when you are attending a formal event or visiting a religious site; and
  • Avoid public displays of affection such as kissing or hugging, especially between unmarried couples.

Learn how to get round. If you live in the city, you might not need to have a car, because of the excellent and extensive public transport system. You can travel by train or bus within and between most cities. If you live on the mainland, there are also transport systems that link to Singapore and Thailand!

If you want to explore the different Malaysian islands, ferry services are available, as well. In addition, you can also take taxis or use ride-hailing apps, if you prefer to have some privacy.

Get to know the working culture. Just like in other countries, it’s important for you to become familiar with the local working culture. For instance, in Malaysia, being punctual or reporting for work on time is important. You should also be respectful of hierarchy or senior positions in the workplace.

Similar to Filipino culture, Malaysians are “non-confrontational” in the workplace. For instance, it is better to avoid conflicts, and to give constructive criticism in private instead of during group meetings. Since Malaysia has a multicultural society, you should also remain open-minded and polite when interacting with people of different ethnicities.

Taste and explore Malaysian cuisine. Malaysian food is delicious! It has been greatly influenced by Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultures, so there is actually a wide variety of yummy dishes. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Nasi Lemak – considered as the country’s “national dish.” It consists of rice served with sambal (chili sauce with shrimp paste), fried dried anchovies, and roasted peanuts. Some people like to add fried chicken, fried squid rings, tofu, eggs, and other side dishes;
  • Curry Laksa – also known as “Curry Mee,” this dish is a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Thai cuisines. It is basically a bowl of noodle soup containing shrimp, fish, chicken, bean sprouts, coconut milk, sambal, curry spices, and other tasty ingredients;
  • Char Koay Teow – a must-try street food in Malaysia, originating from Chinese cuisine. This dish consists of rice noodles sautéed with soy sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp, bean sprouts, Chinese, sausage, and many more. It is absolutely delicious; and
  • Cendol – a popular desert treat consisting of coconut milk and palm sugar syrup, topped with cooked beans and other sweet ingredients. You can enjoy it with or without shaved ice. So yummy!

Connect with fellow Pinoys in Malaysia. The latest records show that there are around 900,000 Filipinos living and working in Malaysia. This is not surprising since the Philippines and Malaysia are practically neighbors! You don’t have to look far to find fellow kababayans in the workplace, in your neighborhood, or even in church. Do not hesitate to get in touch with them, so you can get together, especially when you are feeling homesick!


If you are interested in becoming an OFW in Malaysia, we certainly hope that this guide has been helpful. This country has a diverse culture; it is a great place to make new friends and get to know different kinds of people! Just remember to be polite and respectful always, and to observe the country’s laws and customs.

Meanwhile, another Southeast Asian country that many Filipinos like to visit is Brunei. This is a small, yet wealthy nation on the island of Borneo. Check out this link to know more about how to become an OFW in Brunei.