PUTRAJAYA, June 22 — Non-Malaysian spouses and children have been allowed to return to Malaysia but must obtain the Immigration Department’s approval before arranging to do so, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

He said the government decided this after considering that Malaysians who sought to return with their foreign spouses and non-Malaysian children could not do so because of the movement control order’s border controls.

“This is applicable not only to foreign spouses, but the children of Malaysians born abroad and who are not citizens,” Ismail said during his thrice-weekly press conference.

The defence minister said the application to return to Malaysia must be made with the Immigration Department, and warned the group not to attempt to enter Malaysia without obtaining approval as they will be denied entry.

“There have been instances where families arriving at KLIA resulted in only the Malaysian spouse being allowed to enter, while his or her foreign counterpart and their children are turned away.

“Since you can already apply to come back, it is better not to delay but to do so as quickly as possible,” Ismail said.

On April 27, the Foreign Spouses Support Group urged the department to adopt short-term measures to allow Malaysian families with mixed nationalities to remain together.

It argued that consideration should be given to foreign spouses, children and dependents of Malaysians and permanent residents, regardless of their visa status, in joining their families here.