The Malaysian government is moving fast to optimize visa regulations for foreigners who wish to visit the country. Recently, it has launched a new eVisa program that allows eligible international tourists to obtain a travel permit online in minutes from anywhere in the world. No need to visit a Malaysian embassy in person or hire a travel agency to sort out the papers.
A separate version of the electronic permit is the eNTRI visa (Electronic Travel Registration and Information). This authorization can also be applied for online and the requirements are similar. The essential difference is that while the eVisa is available to a number of nationalities, the eNTRI visa was specifically designed for Indian and Chinese citizens.
There are two main goals behind these new electronic systems:
- On one hand, the Malaysian government wishes to encourage international tourism. By making the visa application faster and hassle-free for foreigners, the government hopes to boost the number of international visitors choosing Malaysia as their holiday destination.
- On the other, new technologies will allow for better control over international borders. The electronic system empowers Malaysian officials to keep better track of foreigners entering the country and fight illegal immigration and visa overstays.
In an effort to further strengthen security, the government has recently announced that eNTRI visa holders will have to wait 45 days prior to re-apply to enter the country.
What Is the Malaysian 45-Day Re-Entry Rule?
From now onwards, citizens of India and China (as to say, those eligible to enter Malaysia on an eNTRI electronic visa) must wait for 45 days outside the country before they can successfully re-apply for a further visa. After 45 days have passed since they left Malaysia, tourists can apply again for the same type of visa and re-enter the Malaysian territory.
Why Is the 45-Day Rule Being Implemented?
The Home Ministry released a statement to announce the decision, saying that the main reason behind it is border security and that the nation’s safety is their number 1 priority:
“The Immigration Department has consistently conducted operations to nab illegal immigrants, including tourists who overstay […] Stern actions are taken against foreigners who break the law […] We will not compromise against parties who threaten public order and safety”.
Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who exercises the functions of Home Minister, signed the statement.
Tourists on an eNTRI visa are allowed to stay in Malaysia for up to 15 days. They cannot extend their permit (neither independently nor with the help of a travel agent) and cannot apply for another authorization while in the country, as established under the Immigration Regulations 1963.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Malaysian government wishes to discourage international tourism. On the opposite: in the midst of an economic boom, Malaysia is making efforts to attract as many as 30 million foreign travelers through the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.
Does the 45-Day Rule Apply to the Malaysian eVisa?
For now, no official comment has been made regarding the application of the 45-day rule to the Malaysian eVisa. This means that eVisa holders don’t need to wait 45 days before re-applying.
Being this a matter of border control, it’s not excluded that the new policy may be applied to eVisas as well in the future. For now, travelers on an eVisa can stay in the country for up to 30 days and apply again to return once their permit has expired.
The eVisa is a single-entry visa. This means that even if their travel authorization has not expired, once eVisa holders leave Malaysia they cannot re-enter the country on the same visa and will have to start an application to obtain a new one.