Overview of Migrating to the UK from Malaysia
Of all the countries in South-East Asia, Malaysia has one of the strongest immigration links with the UK.
The UK has the largest community of Malaysians in the western hemisphere at over 84,000, which even outnumbers the US and Canada. Malaysians also make up one of the largest international student populations in the UK, and the second-largest Malaysian student population in the entire world overall.
One of the reasons for these strong and lasting links is Malaysia’s membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, which affords a range of benefits to its members.
For instance, Commonwealth citizens, such as those from Malaysia, will not need a visa to visit the UK for short periods of time, as well as enjoying additional consular assistance from certain British embassies and consulates.
In addition, Commonwealth membership means that Malaysian citizens are eligible to apply for the UK Ancestry visa to help them permanently settle in the UK.
UK Ancestry Visa for Malaysians
The Ancestry visa is a special type of visa that is only available to citizens of certain countries, such as those in the Commonwealth.
It allows eligible visa holders to come and settle permanently in the UK on the basis of having one or more British grandparents.
To be eligible for the Ancestry visa, you must prove that one or more of your grandparents was born in any of the following locations:
- In the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
- Before 31 March 1922 in what is now Ireland
- On a ship or aircraft that was either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government
Note that the earliest you can apply for an Ancestry visa is 3 months before you travel from Malaysia to the UK. In addition, you must:
- Be 17 or over
- Have enough money to support yourself and any dependents without accessing UK public funds
- Plan to work in the UK
This visa will allow you to stay in the UK for 5 years, after which you may apply for permanent settlement. Permanent settlement in the UK is known as indefinite leave to remain.
UK Family Visas for Malaysians
If you’re not eligible for an Ancestry visa, you may instead be eligible for a Family visa on the basis of already having family members who already have UK settled status or citizenship.
You will be eligible to apply if you are your family member’s:
You may also apply as a fiance or proposed civil partner of someone with UK settled status or citizenship. In this instance, you will receive a provisional short-term Family visa, after which you can apply for a long-term one after you get married or enter into a civil partnership.
Note that the Family visa has different eligibility requirements based on which category of relative you’re applying under.
For example, if you’re applying as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner, you need to satisfy strict requirements regarding the authenticity of your relationship, as well as meeting minimum language and financial requirements.
All Family visas will allow you to apply for indefinite leave to remain after spending a qualifying amount of time in the UK.
UK Work Visas for Malaysians
One of the most popular visa routes and options for foreign nationals looking to move to the UK is through a work visa.
For example, the most popular work visa is the Skilled Worker visa, which is the UK’s general work visa for most forms of skilled and professional work.
The Skilled Worker visa covers a wide range of industries and professions, and operates on a points-based system where all applicants must first accrue the proper number of points in order to apply.
Other work visas include more specialist visas that target specific industries or categories of visa applicants.
For example, the Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs wishing to start and run an innovative business in the UK. For this visa, you must receive endorsement from an approved body, as well as at least £50,000 in investment funds.
Also available are the International Sportsperson visa, for those who intend to work in the professional sports industry, and the Minister of Religion visa, for those who wish to work within a religious faith community.
All of these work visas will eventually allow you to apply for indefinite leave to remain, if you’re eligible.
UK Student Visas for Malaysians
The UK Student visa is by far one of the most popular visa options for Malaysians, and the UK is the second-most popular country for Malaysian students to go to when studying abroad.
This visa will allow you to come to the UK and study in any one of the UK’s further education institutions.
You will need to ensure that you have been offered a place on a course first before you apply for the visa. You must also have enough money to support yourself and pay for the course, as well as being able to speak, read and write English to a sufficient degree.
The earliest you can apply for your visa is 6 months prior to the start date of your course. However, Student visas are normally approved in a matter of weeks.
The Student visa will not immediately allow you to settle in the UK, as it is normally only valid for the duration of your course. However, you may apply for a Graduate visa after your course finishes.
After your Graduate visa, you may then switch to a work, family, or other type of visa to allow yourself to stay and settle in the UK.
How Can IAS Help?
For Malaysians looking to migrate to another country, the UK has always been a popular choice. The presence of an already-established Malaysian community in London and south-east England will also no doubt further encourage emigration from Malaysia and help grow the community in the UK.
If you are looking to migrate to the UK and have any additional questions about applying for a visa, or anything else to do with UK immigration, law, or the logistics of migrating to another country, IAS can help.
We are specialist legal advisers working in the field of UK immigration. We have decades’ worth of experience in helping people like yourself come to the UK, and have all the tools and knowledge you need to make the transition a smooth one.
Whether you need help to apply for a visa to travel to the UK, advice on the best way to settle permanently in the UK, or specialist concierge services to assist with the moving process, we can help.
Last modified on July 17th, 2023 at 7:31 am
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You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain once you’ve spent the requisite amount of time in the UK on your visa.
In most cases, this will be either 5 years, though periods of 3 or 10 years is also possible.
Once you’re eligible for indefinite leave to remain, you need to apply for it through the Gov.uk website. Here, you will have to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility requirements, such as the minimum language requirements.
You will also have to pass the Life in the UK Test to become eligible.
The cost of migrating to the UK will depend on where in the country you’ll be moving to, and what your general sort of budget will be for living expenses.
Generally speaking, London is home to the biggest Malaysian community in the UK, but it is also one of the most expensive places to live in the country. You may need upwards of around £1,800 a month to comfortably live here, with prices being similar in the counties and cities surrounding London.
Prices generally tend to go down the further north you go, with areas of the north of England and Scotland being considerably cheaper to live in. You may only need around £1,000 a month to live comfortably in some areas, though this will depend heavily on your own spending and budgeting habits.
The largest group that supports Malaysians in the UK is the British Malaysian Society, which aims to foster bilateral relationships between the two countries and provide support for Malaysians in the UK.
There are also a number of smaller organisations, groups and societies focused in specific areas of the UK, particularly in and around UK universities, given the high number of Malaysian students who come to the UK to study.