PUTRAJAYA | The Immigration Department will launch an amnesty programme for foreigners who have overstayed or do not possess valid travel documents to be repatriated.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the “Back-for-Good” programme will be implemented on Aug 1 until Dec 31 this year.

Foreigners who take up the amnesty:

>> must pay a RM700 compound;

>> have legitimate travel documents like passport or emergency travel certificate;

>> have a ticket to go back to their home countries within seven days; and

>> will be blacklisted and barred from returning to Malaysia for an indefinite period.

“This programme will be conducted fully by the Immigration Department in Peninsular Malaysia without the involvement of an agent or third party, and the department has prepared more than 80 counters all over the peninsular to facilitate theprogramme,” he told a press conference at the Immigration Department here yesterday.

Muhyiddin said the government was reluctant to conduct this programme, but there are simply too many illegal immigrants in the country.

“We expect some 300,000 to 400,000 foreigners to take advantage of this,” he said, adding that this amnesty offer applies to foreigners who have committed offences under section 15(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/1963 by overstaying, or section 6(1)(c) for not possessing valid travel documents.

He added that employers who have taken in illegal immigrants may also use the programme or face strict action if they are caught later.

Muhyiddin said is difficult for the authorities to differentiate between those who are victims of human trafficking syndicates and those who enter the country illegally for work purposes.

We don’t want to be seen as a country that does not obey its own laws because of the behaviour of some people, so we view this seriously,“ he said.

Muhyiddin also said there are no longer any outsourcing companies under the Home Ministry, and those who wanted to continue this business can register under the Job Agency Act under the Human Resource Ministry.

Meanwhile, at the Dewan Rakyat, Muhiyddin’s deputy Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman said 111,142 foreigners applied for Malaysian citizenship from 2013 to 2018.

However, only 24,327 applications have been approved while of the remainder, 26,222 have been rejected, 7,371 cancelled and 54,222 are being being processed.

Mohd Azis explained that all applications were considered based on the facts and documents provided by the applicants.

“It is a meticulous process, done on a case-by-case basis on our ‘first come first served’ policy,” he said in response to a question from Steven Choong Shiau Yoon (PH-Tebrau).

To a supplementary question, Azis said leeway on fluency in Malay would be given in special cases despite a requirement that applicants must sit for a Malay language exam.

“We won’t be as strict if we know the person is either born in Malaysia or has stayed in the country for 10 years or more. However, they still need to know basic Malay language,” he said.