: From Jan 1 next year, employers can apply for foreign maid permits from the Immigration Department via an online system, according to Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.
"Applications can be made directly without an agent or mediator, and it is expected to take seven to 16 days (to process)," he told reporters here, Tuesday.
He said the direct recruitment of foreign maids from source countries would reduce the cost and burden of employers, whereby employers would only have to pay around RM3,600 to RM3,800, as compared to payments of between RM12,000 to RM18,000 made to agents previously.
"The cost involves fees for levy, visit pass (temporary work), visa and processes set according to the respective countries, as well as flight cost. The online application system can help curb human trafficking activities," he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak while tabling Budget 2018 on Friday said the government would now give the option to employers to hire foreign domestic helpers directly from nine source countries, without going through agents.
Najib said employers could also apply visa for their maids from the Immigration Department online, with levy and processing fees charged according to existing rates.
On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stated that direct hiring of maids would save employers up to 50 per cent of the cost.
In the meantime, Mustafar explained that employers could identify individuals in Malaysia who are eligible to work as maids before making an online application and completing the nine processes set by the department.
The nine processes are online registration by employers, login and registration of foreign maids, health screening, document upload, review, approval, decision notification, payment and printing of visit permit (for temporary work) stickers .
"Employers can also go to the source country and look for prospects themselves, then bring them in to Malaysia using a social visit pass before making the application," he said.
Mustafar added that the department would not object if employers still wished to use the services of agents and were willing to bear the high cost involved.