Note: This article was originally posted to Parents Avenue on 19 July 2021. The site as since then been deleted.
Local Sabahan mother Sheena M. finds herself in a quandry every November – to apply for a student visa for her son.
The reason? Her son is a non-Malaysian citizen despite Sheena being a Malaysian citizen.
How can a non-Malaysian citizen child be born to a Malaysian mother?
Sheena’s eldest son was born in China and her child’s father is a Chinese national, therefore her son was automatically given Chinese citizenship. Sheena and her family returned to Malaysia mid-2016, when her son was just 5 years old.
Sheena’s case is not unique. It was highlighted recently that former Malaysian squash champion Choong Wai Li also has a non-Malaysian citizen child as he was born out of the country to an Irish father. (https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/07/14/malaysian-mums-fight-govt-over-sexist-citizenship-law/) UPDATE: Choong Wai Li’s child has recently received his citizenship certificate in April this year!
Malaysia is one of 25 countries that do not give mothers and fathers equal rights to pass their nationality to their children. Malaysian men can automatically confer citizenship to children born abroad, however, women do not enjoy the same right.
Getting Sheena’s son to remain in Malaysia
The ways in which Sheena’s son can remain in Malaysia with her is extremely limited, and one of the ways is by getting him a student visa. The student visa ensures that her son can remain in Malaysia and attend a local government school for the following year.
Now divorced, Sheena found that it was essential to send her son to a local government school – she relies on help and support from friends and family who sends their kids to the same school. It was also just not affordable to hire another person to pick up her kids from school and provide afternoon care or tuition.
However, getting her non-citizen child to be admitted to a local government school was not the biggest problem.
It was applying for the student visa itself.
What is required to obtain a student visa in Malaysia?
Finding information online on the application of a student visa is somewhat difficult.
A look through the Immigration department of Malaysia website shows that the department does put a list of documents that is required but does not reflect the whole process of applying for a student visa.
Below is a summary are the documents required for applying for a student pass / visa according to an international school and verified by Sheena:
|1||1 copy of Kelulusan Permohonan Pas Pelajar||1 copy of Kelulusan Permohonan Pas Pelajar|
|2||2 copies of Form IM.14 (Student Pass Application Form)||1 copy of Form IM.14 (Student Pass Application Form)|
|3||2 copies of Form IM.38 (Visa Application Form)||1 copy of Form IM.38 (Visa Application Form)|
|4||2 copies of Student Personal Data Form (Lampiran B)||1 copy of the Form IMM.55 (Extension of Visit Pass)|
|5||4 passport-size photo with blue background||2 passport-size photo with blue background|
|6||Copy of the Education Institution Registration Certificate||Copy of the Education Institution Registration Certificate|
|7||Copy of the Approval for Intake of Foreign Students by the Ministry of Home Affairs||Copy of the Approval for Intake of Foreign Students by the Ministry of Home Affairs|
|8||Approval letter from the Ministry of Education||Approval letter from the Ministry of Education|
|9||Offer letter from school||Copy of the student’s attendance report|
|10||Authorisation letter from school||Authorisation letter from school|
|11||Clear copy of student’s whole passport book||Clear copy of student’s passport details and visa page|
|12||Personal bond (require 2 Malaysians to sign as guarantor and witness respectively and to attach the JPN certified copy of their identity cards. Then, the form is required to be stamped at the LHDN office)*||Not Applicable for Renewal.|
|13||Photocopy of student’s birth certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)||Photocopy of student’s birth certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)|
|14||Photocopy of parent’s marriage certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)||Photocopy of parent’s marriage certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)|
|15||Photocopy of parent’s MyKad/MyPR/ passport details and visa page (certified true by JPN) must be provided||Photocopy of parent’s MyKad/MyPR/ passport details and visa page (certified true by JPN) must be provided|
|16||Family Certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)||Family Certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)|
|17||Copy of the parent’s divorce certificate/death certificate/child’s custody certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)||Copy of the parent’s divorce certificate/death certificate/child’s custody certificate (translated into English and certified true copy)|
|18||Valid health insurance policy||Valid health insurance policy|
|19||Student pass application fee||Student pass renewal fee|
*The personal bond can cost around RM500 – RM2,000 depending on which country the applicant is from.
Sheena’s personal experience
The list of required documents above does not in any way reflect the amount of time and work needed to complete the whole student visa renewal process, according to Sheena, thanks to the number of departments she had to physically visit, which are located at different parts of the city.
Keep in mind that none of these processes are available to be done online.
To top it off, she had to go through this process all over again every single year, beginning latest by October as the student pass is only valid for one (1) year. Although some online sites claim that visa processing takes 4-6 weeks , it was not reflective of the actually amount of waiting time required or the amount of travelling around.
To renew her son’s student pass of visa, she will need to go personally to the Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia Headquarters (JIM HQ) or the Department of Immigration Malaysia located along Jalan UMS, where there is a notoriously long line just to obtain the necessary forms.
Only then is she able to proceed to with the application process.
Here is Sheena’s account of what she needs to do to obtain the visa in Kota Kinabalu.
Step 1:- Obtain an official letter from the school to state which class her child will be in e.g. Darjah 5 (P5) in 2022. The amount of time taken for the letter to be prepared is dependent on the school principal’s schedule (Note: the letter issued to her usually states six years of her son’s “tenure” at the school but each year she is still required to get the same letter from the principal anyway).
Step 2: While waiting for the letter to be issued, Sheena recommends visiting the Jabatan Pendidikan Daerah (the district department of education) located at KWASA to pick up four copies of “Borang Pink” and make, all repetitively four copies all to be filled up by hand.
Step 3: Once letter from school is ready to be collected, she needs to bring the letter back to the Jabatan Pendidikan Daerah Kota Kinabalu at KWASA to pay the yearly fee of RM140. Retain the receipt of payment, which will be shown as proof to JIM later.
Step 4: Visit the Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Sabah (the Sabah State Education Department) in Likas, with the filled-up four copies of “Borang Pink” forms in Step 2, which are to be signed by the Pengarah or Director. Ensure that supporting documents such as the receipt from Step 3, as well as the letter from the school, is included. The time for the forms to be signed is dependent on the availability of the Pengarah (which may take longer than expected weeks if the Pengarah happens to be outstation, attending official matters).
Step 5: Pick up the signed copies of forms “Borang Pink” from Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Sabah in Likas once ready for collection.
Step 6: Fill up the forms collected from Immigration departments, and make 4 certified true copies of all the documents as per number 11, 13 – 17 from the list above (these must be current). Bring everything, with the originals, back to the JIM HQ at Jalan UMS to pay the total student pass renewal fees of around RM600.
Sheena warns that the department does not accept cash, only debit card.
Step 6: Wait for the student visa to be attached to the passport. Only then, you are done!
However, be aware that the student pass is valid for only one year.
As this is a yearly process, Sheena recommends to start from October, or earlier (as you can see from timeline how difficult and long the process may be)
What about the forms?
After the student visa process is completed, the four forms filled up per Step 5 still need to be:
- Kept by the parent(s)
- Kept/returned to Jabatan Pendidikan Daerah in KWASA
- Kept/returned to Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri in Likas
- Kept/returned to the school
A Redundant System That Needs To Be Changed
Sheena finds the whole student visa renewal process to be highly frustrating.
She wonders why does the Immigration department need the school to issue a new letter every year when the letter clearly states her son will be in the same school all the way from 2018 to 2023.
She suggests that the government consider simplifying the process by issuing a 6-year student visa just for primary school kids so that Malaysian parents like her do not need to repeat the tiring process every year. This may also require the government to invest on online infrastructure so that the student pass renewal process can be moved online thus negating the need to travel from one department to another.
Last but not least, she would be happy if an option for a 5 year renewable Permanent Resident status for children. She doesn’t even mind paying RM5,000 if it would guarantee her child would be able to remain in Malaysia.