Mustafar Ali, director general of the Malaysian Immigration Department, announced on Wednesday that beginning on January 1 next year, citizens would be able to log on to the department’s official portal for direct hiring of foreign domestic workers from nine selected countries.

Applications will take seven to 16 days to process, without the need to go through an employment agency or middleman firm, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) reported.

Ali said being able to source prospective domestic helpers directly  would bring employers’ costs down. It is expected that they will have to pay only 3,400 to 3,600 ringgit (US$800-$850) instead of the current average cost of 12,000 to 18,000 ringgit to hire through agency referrals.

The online application system should also cut down on human trafficking and other problems, the director general added.

People will be allowed to hire maids directly who are already working in Malaysia, or prospective ones from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Laos, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia or Myanmar.

Read: Malaysia to allow direct hiring of maids from 9 countries