Malaysia has introduced new measures to streamline international student visa applications by allowing HE students to apply directly through EMGS, rather than through an education institution, as well as extending some study visas to match the length of study programmes. The changes aim to increase efficiency and transparency, the Higher Education Ministry has said.
The direct application system, which will come into effect in the coming weeks, will ensure that visa processing takes no longer than two weeks and allow students to track their applications, according to the ministry.
“This is to encourage more students from diversified countries to come in Malaysia”
The move will help Malaysia to reach its goal of attracting 200,000 international students by 2020 (currently around 113,000), Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said at a news conference last month.
“With this new method, if you fail to comply to any requirements, at least you know where you got stuck, at which stage. Normally the problem is students do not know where they failed,” he said.
Applicants to certain institutions selected by the ministry based on their performance will also be eligible to apply for visas based on the length of their study programme, instead of the one-year visa which has been used up to now.
The government will also extend the mobility pass that students can use to complete an exchange programme from three months to a maximum of 12 months.
“This is to encourage more students from diversified countries to come in Malaysia,” commented Idris, noting that around three quarters of the international students currently in the country are from Asia.
However, he stressed that the extended visa does not entail a loosening of controls on students, saying that the ministry will continue to conduct annual checks on institutions to ensure students are not abusing visas.
He credited the establishment of EMGS in 2013 with curbing abuses of the visa system, as well as helping to keep crime figures among international students low.
“Since screening by EMGS began, the ministry’s statistics showed only 0.075 per cent of the students were involved in crime,” he said.
“Many are of the perception that each crime committed by a foreigner involved international students,” he addded “Maybe such students entered Malaysia before the introduction of the EMGS student card.”
Though the changes were originally announced as coming in on January 1, EMGS said in a statement last week that they “will only be fully implemented when all parties concerns are thoroughly prepared”.
“Until the official announcement on the exact date of the implementation of the new policy by KPT, all institutions are requested to continue business as usual in accordance to the present rules, guidelines and procedures,” it says.