Top Stories

Residency Schemes and Eligibility Requirements in ASEAN

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Posted: 6th July 2015 10:01

Regulations and procedures significantly vary between countries, and overall, obtaining a long-term residency status is a challenge for foreigners in ASEAN. We explain permanent residency and other programs available for foreigners who wish to reside in any of nine ASEAN nations.


Foreigners in Malaysia can either obtain a permanent visa or choose the Malaysian residency program. Foreigners meeting one of the following requirements may apply at the Malaysian Immigration Department for permanent residency:

  • Foreigners with five years of continuous residency in Malaysia with a legal Entry Permit;

  • Foreigners married to a Malaysian citizen for 10 years.

Foreigners are allowed stay in the country with a long term visa through the Malaysia My Second Home Program (MM2H). This visa is available for at least ten years and extendible, providing the foreigners fulfil medical and financial requirements of the program, including an offshore income of Rm10,000 and minimum liquid assets of RM500,000 for applicants under 50 year old and RM 350,000 for applicants over 50.

The Philippines

This Philippines enables foreigners to have long-term residence in multiple types of procedures. Foreigners can apply for one of the following categories:

  • Foreigners married to Filipino citizens

  • Foreigners who are returning former Filipino citizens

Native English speakers who wish to teach in the Philippines may also apply for permanent residency status.

Moreover, different types of visa available in the Philippines enabling foreigners to have long term residence include:

  • Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV), allowing foreigners and overseas Filipinos from 35 years old to stay indefinitely in the country with different specific requirements.

  • Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV), allowing foreigners investing in profitable economic activities to reside in the Philippines for a period as long as the required qualifications and investments are still valid.


Foreigners in Singapore can apply for an Entry Permit, which is an application for Singapore Permanent Residence, which is available for those who:

  • are spouse or unmarried offspring (below 21) of a Singaporean Citizen/Permanent Resident;

  • are aged parents of a Singapore Citizen;

  • hold a P, Q or S work pass and working in Singapore;

  • are Investors/Entrepreneurs;

  • satisfy certain other guidelines.

Professionals in the following fields can apply for PR in Singapore:

  • Professionals or technical personnel and skilled workers;

  • Foreign investors with a minimum investment of SG$2.5 million in a new business, an expansion of an existing business or in a Global Investment Programme-approved fund;

  • Artists in photography, dance, music, theatre, literature or film.


Foreigners eligible for permanent residence in Thailand include those who:

  • are related as a spouse, parent, or guardian to a Thai citizen or a person with permanent resident status in Thailand;

  • are foreign investors who have invested a minimum of 3 to 10 million baht in the Thai economy (equivalent to US $100,000 – $350,000);

  • are workers in relevant business visa categories;

  • are classified as professionals or experts;

  • are in other categories established by the government.

Foreigners must also be a holder of a Thai non-immigrant visa for the last three years or more, and hold the visa at the time of application


Foreigners wishing to stay in Cambodia can either obtain and extend their business or ordinary visas, or become a Cambodian Citizen.

A Business/Ordinary Visa (E) allows foreigners to stay for up to one month, and can be easily extended for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months. Business visas are the most popular way to reside long-term in Cambodia.
Cambodian Citizenship can be applied for at the Ministry of the Interior, which normally takes 2-3 months to process. Eligible foreigners are those who:

  • make a donation of US$310,000 to the government for the benefit of Cambodian people;

  • have lived and worked in Cambodia for a minimum of seven years, and are proficient in Khmer in reading, writing and speaking;

  • married to a Cambodian citizen, following three years of cohabitation from the date of marriage registration.


Laos does not offer any form of long-term visa for non-citizens. To reside permanently, foreigners can apply for permanent residency, in those eligible include foreigners who:

  • have lived in Laos for 10 continuous years including at least 10 months per year residing in Laos;

  • are classed as specialists or scientists;

  • have ran a stable business in Laos with investment value of minimum US$500,000 for at least 5 years;

  • actively contribute to the development of the nation.


Permanent Stay Permit or ITAP can be issued to foreigners for a period of five years and can be extended for an unlimited period if the permit has not been cancelled. Foreigners eligible are those who:

  • hold a Temporary Residence Permit as a religious cleric/missionary, expatriate worker, investor, or retiree, and have stayed in Indonesia for at least 3 years in Indonesia since the Temporary Stay Permit has been granted;

  • are members of a mixed marriage family involving an Indonesian citizen;

  • have spouses, offspring of a foreign national holding a Permanent Residence Permit;

  • are former Indonesian citizens or hold dual citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia and another country.


Foreigners who have been temporarily residing in Vietnam for three consecutive years shall be considered for permanent residence if they:

  • have a spouse, offspring, or parent who is a Vietnamese citizens residing in Vietnam;

  • are classed as a scientist or an expert;

  • have made meritorious contributions to the development and protection of Vietnam and are awarded medals and titles by the government;

  • have no nationality and have had temporary residence in Vietnam since or before the year 2000.


The Myanmar government introduced a permanent residence system for foreigners in December of 2014. Although specific information has not yet been announced, the state-owned media has revealed that this is aimed for the nation’s development, including scholars, experts, intellectuals and investors from other countries, as well as former Myanmar citizens.

This article was first published on ASEAN Briefing

Since its establishment in 1992, Dezan Shira & Associates has been guiding foreign clients through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assisting them with all aspects of legal, accounting, tax, internal control, HR, payroll and audit matters. As a full-service consultancy with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India and emerging ASEAN, we are your reliable partner for business expansion in this region and beyond.

For inquiries, please email us at Further information about our firm can be found at:

Related articles