More Deportation Threats in SE Asia

In this report, I share more deportation threats in SE Asia

This is the kind of information that someone who hasn’t traveled internationally much lately will think is a big problem. But it is just a minor bump in the road you can avoid with the following information.

I will describe what happened to this Western expat, and how to reduce the chances it will happen to me (and you).

If you do what I am going to do, the chance of this happening to you will be very low unless the rules are changed again.

But, I will report any changes I hear about to you. Make sure to subscribe and ring the bell so you will get updates on visa run facts as they develop. Also, please email me or leave a comment below if you have information about other changes that travelers should know about anywhere in the world.

So Qiang and I were walking down the street in Vietnam yesterday, and one of our long-time listeners gave us a big smile and said hello. We chatted with him about a visa run experience he had recently in SE Asia and I decided I need to share it with you right away.

I will not mention his real name or what passport he holds, but I will call him Joe. Joe has been all over the world and he loves Malaysia and doesn’t want them angry at him. Joe holds one of the best passports in the world. It is a Western passport from a favored nation such as EU, UK, Australia, Canada, USA, etc.

So Joe can go almost anywhere in the world without applying for a visa before he boards his flight. Joe just arrives in most countries and they give him visa exemption stamps with very few questions. He rarely needs a visa.

So the problem was not his passport or any lack of visa. He didn’t need a visa at all. He had not overstated anywhere in the world nor had he broken any laws. He didn’t knowingly do anything wrong.

After I finish Joe’s story, I will share a tip about how I have been paying only $10 to $20 USD per month for smartphone service all over the world for the last 14 years, and how you can too.

Okay, here is what happened to Joe.

Joe entered Malaysia earlier this year. Because Joe’s passport was from a favored nation, Malaysia gave Joe the standard 90-day visa exemption stamp on his first entry. That means he can stay in Malaysia for 90 days without applying for a visa. On that first entry, Joe stayed for most of the 90 days he was allowed on his stamp.

After 90 days in Malaysia, Joe decided to fly to another country in SE Asia.

Joe got his exit stamp from Malaysia before he boarded a flight to another country in SE Asia. When Joe’s flight landed in that other country, Joe properly got his entry stamp, stayed only for the 30 days they gave him on his entry stamp, and got his exit stamp before boarding his flight leaving that country.

Then, Joe boarded his flight back to Malaysia. Upon landing in Malaysia, the immigration officer asked Joe what he was doing in Malaysia. Joe said he loved Malaysia so much, he was coming back for a month to spend more time here.

The officers detained Joe and questioned him for a time. Joe thought they were thinking about deporting him. So Joe explained that he was only staying for another 30 days. But they seemed hesitant.

So Joe showed them his paid-for exit flight and his paid-for apartment in Malaysia. Joe thought that proof of his exit flight in 30 days and his paid-for accommodations for only 30 days would convince them to let him stay.

Luckily, they finally believed Joe and decided not to deport him. Since he proved he was only going to stay 30 more days, they decided to let him enter Malaysia. Joe said that they put a handwritten note in his passport that he had to leave within 30 days. So his entry stamp was for only 30 days on his second entry instead of the normal 90 days.

Joe also shared one other thing that is probably the most important thing I will share in this report. The immigration official said something unofficial to Joe that I think might keep you out of hot water.

They official said, “Don’t quote me on this, but if you had stayed out of Malaysia for 90 days before trying to re-enter, we probably wouldn’t have asked all these questions.”

So, that is Dan’s new rule for Malaysia:

When I exit Malaysia, even if I don’t use up the whole 90-days on a first exemption stamp before leaving, I will stay out of Malaysia for at least 91 days now. I would be willing to come back sooner and spend more of my money in Malaysia, as soon as Malaysia makes it clear that it will be safe for me to return.

Don’t get me wrong here. I love Malaysia. But it is their country and their rules. I respect their right to set their own rules. It is one of my favorite countries in the world. But I just don’t like to break rules. I am a rule follower. So if the rules are not clear to me, I will be conservative in my decisions.

Malaysia has been really kind to me. I have been going in and out of Malaysia for 7 years now, and I will continue to promote Malaysia in my reports and videos. But I don’t want to break any unwritten rules. I don’t even want to push it right up to the line. And I want you to have a happy safe life traveling also. So I will stay out of Malaysia for at least 90 days whenever I leave now.

Here is my thinking about this. Countries that want to limit how many months per year you can stay, will often explain in detail how to follow their rules. This is very helpful. Rule followers like me know exactly where the line is so we don’t cross it. Just tell us how to act and we will stay within bounds.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Have you heard of the Schengen visa? This visa allows you to stay in any of the European countries in the Schengen area for a limited time. Here is how they explain it clearly so people like me and you know how to act.

The Schengen visa is a short-stay visa and takes the form of a sticker affixed to the travel document. The definition of “short stay” is a stay of “90 days in any 180 days period”. This means that the total duration of stay is of maximum 90 days, in any period of 180 days. EU Source.

I have searched and searched and I was unable to find any official word from Malaysian Immigration. I have only found comments from other expats trying to help each other online in the present vacuum of information. I will paraphrase a few comments to give you a feel for how confusing this is.

Example Comments:

One. “Nobody knows how long you can stay in Malaysia when you try to re-enter after your first 90-day visa exemption stamp.”

Two. “Nothing is written in stone. They usually allow me one 90-day re-entry before the trouble starts.”

Three. “It is left to the discretion of the immigration official you are standing in front of.”

If anyone knows of an official Malaysian government position on this, please let me know so I can clear this up and share it with others. In doing so, if you could provide a link to an official Malaysian source in your comments below (or an email to me), it would be immensely appreciated.

Why is Malaysia Doing This

I don’t know why Malaysia has changed how they treat visitors recently. One person said to me that Malaysia is trying to get more people to apply for their retirement visa programs. I don’t really believe that is why they are doing it.

Here is why. Malaysia is a rich oil and gas country. They don’t need the tourist money or the retiree money. Countries like Thailand (18%) and the Philippines (6%) depend on tourism and foreign money for a significant portion of their GNP. But Malaysia only gets about 2.7% of their GNP from tourism. Source (2022).

A few years ago Malaysia increased the monthly income requirements to qualify for a retirement visa. Malaysia increased the amount of monthly pension you need to get a retirement visa to about $10,000 USD per month. That is 5 times higher than Thailand and many people live in the Philippines for 36 consecutive months without proving any income at all.

When Malaysia raised their retirement income requirements beyond reach for 95% of Westerners, rumors started flying around that retirement visa applications in Peninsular Malaysia dropped by 95%. So people quit retiring in Peninsular Malaysia and started retiring in other affordable places in SE Asia or in Sarawak Malaysia.

Those are just rumors though. What actually happened behind closed doors is anybody’s guess.

Other rumors are that Sarawak Malaysia started getting a big wave of visa application fees. Sarawak Malaysia is a beautiful place and Sarawak still has much cheaper retirement visa terms similar to the old cheaper $2000 per month rules that Pennisular Malaysia had before their extreme rule changes. Sarawak only requires retirees to spend 30 days a year in Sarawak. I read that some Sarawak retirees were spending up to 11 months per year outside of Sarwak including in Peninsular Malaysia.

But hopefully, things will change for the better soon. Peninsular Malaysia officials have already hinted that they know they were too aggressive in raising the retirement visa requirements and will be announcing new more favorable rules. We are all waiting and watching now.

Next, before talking about cheap cell phone service overseas, I wanted to warn you about ….

The arrogance of old information

You may know that I have been visiting Malaysia since 2016 when I met Qiang Hui of Hobo Ventures. I have entered and exited Malaysia at least 15 or 20 times in the last 7 years.

So, the arrogance of my old personal information and experience could have clouded the present facts on the ground in Malaysia if I was not careful. When I met Joe on the street, I could have thought to myself, this guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. I have been in and out of Malaysia 15 or 20 times before.

Back in 2016 and 2017, there were multiple times when I went in and out of Malaysia 4 times in only 6 months.  In all that time, Malaysian Immigration just stamped my passport over and over again with 90-day visa exemptions without ever giving me the third degree.

So the arrogance of my old information might make me think what Joe is telling me is an exception instead of the rule. Did he just do something stupid he is not telling me? But I have learned over the years that things change quickly in the world now. You have to be ready to learn new things and adjust quickly.

And immigration rule changes, written or unwritten, are no exception to the new velocity of change going on in the world right now. So I listen carefully when I meet people like Joe on the street and he tells me something that sounds odd based upon my old experiences.

I ask a lot of questions and I try to figure out if Joe was an exception or if there are new unwritten rules.  please do me a favor when you get some bad news like this. Share it in the comments or send me an email.

You see, the average age of the people watching my channel … let’s just say they are not spring chickens anymore. By our age, we are typically done breaking rules that could reduce the joy of our remaining years. So let us know what you have learned so we can all have more fun and less hassle as we explore this great world of ours.

With that in mind, last week I did a video and report called “Are visa runs legal?” I will put a link to that report below. In that report, I gave you my tips about how to succeed during the 60 seconds you are standing in front of an immigration officer while trying to enter their country.

To that list of tips, I will now add the following rule for entering Malaysia, which I already shared with you above. Here is Dan’s Malaysia rule for Rule Followers:

Stayed out of Malaysia for 90 days before trying to re-enter.

Every time I repeat an important concept, the neurological memory trace increases making it easier to recall. It becomes more useful in your daily life, like muscle memory. I am providing a source for this idea. Repetition in learning.

We live in a world where conspiracy theorists share unresearched fairy tales trying to convince you they are facts. You are smarter than that, so I often drop sources in my written reports. You are invited to disagree with me, but at least you will know what I am reading. This is my sign of respect to you.

I am not saying this rule will work every time. I am just saying it is the rule I will follow until Malaysia starts doing other things that make me act differently going forward. Again, the rule is reported to be by Joe, as what an immigration officer unofficially told him. Stayed out of Malaysia for 90 days before trying to re-enter.

I also want to warn you about a new requirement to enter Malaysia. There is also a new digital card you have to fill out online 3 days before you arrive in Malaysia. That requirement is effective immediately. I will include a link to that article on the written report for his video right above the written tip for cheap smartphone plans overseas.

Cheap Smartphone Plans Overseas

Finally, I promised a tip about cheap smartphone connectivity overseas. For the last few years, we have been installing local SIM cards in our phones whenever we enter a new country. They usually cost between $15 and $20 USD per month including huge amounts of data and can be renewed monthly if you decide to stay longer somewhere.

These are prepaid plans, not postpaid plans. If you want to know everything I know about maintaining your old US telephone number and mailing address, no matter where you are in the world, and how I pay for this lifestyle, please grab a free copy of my eBook, How I Fired My Boss and Traveld the World for 17+ Years.