With 300 days of sunshine every year, a high standard of living and idyllic seafront properties, Malta is fast becoming one of Europe’s top expat destinations. The country has just launched the Malta Residency and Visa Programme (MRVP), aimed at attracting reputable third-country nationals from across the globe to the island. The programme is managed by Identity Malta, which is the agency responsible for passports, identity documents, work and residence permits for expatriates, the Individual Investor Programme and the MRVP, amongst other. Roderick Cutajar, CEO Residency & Visa Programme, explains the requirements and benefits of this new programme.
Malta just opened its door to more foreign expats, investors and entrepreneurs. What are the main advantages of the MRVP?
Malta provides a safe and comfortable living environment in a Mediterranean island setting. Stability and security are important factors motivating people to seek residency elsewhere, and we are convinced that third-country nationals in search of a safe location for their families will see the benefits of this programme. It should also prove attractive to nationals of countries that do not allow dual citizenship and hence cannot apply for citizenship-by-investment programmes. Through this programme, Malta acts as a gateway to Europe, providing visa-free access to the European Schengen Area for those third-country nationals taking up residence, which is an attractive feature for nationals coming from South Africa, Russia and China to name but a few.
Who can apply for the programme and what criteria need to be fulfilled?
Applicants cannot be citizens of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland and must be at least 18 years old. It is crucial that they – along with all family members benefitting from the programme – have a clean criminal record. They are required to invest in property on the Maltese Islands. The value of property bought must be at least €270,000 in Gozo or the South of Malta, or of €320,000 elsewhere in Malta. Renting property is an alternative; the annual lease must be between €10,000 and €12,000. Applicants must also commit to invest €250,000 in Government bonds, and this investment must be held for a minimum period of five years. In addition, the applicant needs to declare either an annual income of not less than €100,000 arising outside Malta or capital of not less than €500,000.
You are marketing the MRVP as a credible programme for reputable people. How are you ensuring that applicants fit this bill?
We will do everything possible to ensure that successful applicants and their dependents are fit and proper persons; they must satisfy the high standards of our rigorous due diligence process. The residency right can also be removed at any time should a beneficiary commit a crime or breach the law. Furthermore, an application can also be deemed against the public interest and turned down.
What are the costs involved and how long is the residency permit valid for?
Once residency is granted, every applicant needs to pay a contribution of €30,000 to Identity Malta. There is also a non-refundable administrative fee of €5,500 on application, which will be deducted from the contribution. This fee covers the applicant, spouse and children. The application can be extended to include parents or grandparents of the main applicant or of the spouse if he/she is not economically active and is principally dependant on the said person. Beneficiaries are allowed to stay in Malta as long as they fulfil certain criteria of the programme, such as having the required income or liquid assets. However, they are not required to hold government bonds and property for longer than five years.
Where can one apply for the programme?
While Identity Malta is entrusted with the running of the programme, each application has to be administered by a registered accredited person or a registered approved agent with Identity Malta.