By Uglobal Staff
Malta’s new residency-by-investment program is set to be presented before the country’s parliament within weeks. Once passed, the program would make the Mediterranean island more competitive as a regional hub for attracting foreign talent and investment.
The new plan -- Malta Permanent Residency Program – would replace the Malta Residence and Visa Program, which was launched in 2016 and is now set to expire by March 2021.
The new residency program emerged just a few months after Malta launched a new citizenship-by-investment program – the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment – that replaced the previous Malta Individual Investor Program.
Changes in residency rules for Malta’s new program
The main changes in the new residency program are in the property purchase and rental prices, which have been increased to echo market realities, according to the Malta government. There is also a new charity donation requirement and the formation of a new agency – the Residency Malta Agency -- that would be tasked to oversee the investment of funds.
Foreign investors would no longer be allowed to invest in stocks and bonds like before. Dependents of the applicants would also have to pay a higher fee and the health insurance would only extend to Malta instead of the whole EU region.
An applicant under this new program would have to either pay a minimum amount of 10,000 euros as rent on a property in the South of Malta/Gozo, or 12,000 euros if the property is in other parts of Malta. The investor also has the choice to buy a property worth at least 300,000 euros in the South of Malta/Gozo or 350,000 in other areas of Malta. In either case, the investor would be required to hold on to the property for at least five years from the day they get their residency documents.
Additionally, the investor would have to pay 40,000 euros in administrative fees as well as contribute 58,000 euros (if property is leased), or 28,000 euros (if property is purchased); and make a donation of 2,000 euros to a charitable organization or a non-government body approved by the agency. For each dependent, who is 18 and above, the investor would need to pay an additional 7,500 euros.
An investor would only become eligible to apply under this program if their assets are worth at least 500,000 euros, out of which at least 150,000 must be financial assets. They also need a clean criminal record and a health insurance policy.
If all requirements are met, the applicant can expect to become a permanent Maltese resident within four to six months.
A new route to a Maltese passport
For those interested in getting Maltese citizenship, the Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment law offers a quick route to an EU passport. This regulation came out in 2020 and have replaced the previous Malta Individual Investor Program.
Under this new regulation, investors can become citizens either after 12 months of residency or 36 months, a waiting period that gives a tough competition to other similar CBI programs.
According to the government body -- the Community Malta Agency, also known as Agenzija Komunita Malta -- applicants for this program need to meet the following requirements to get a Maltese passport:
Before becoming a citizen, an applicant would have to give proof they have been a resident of Malta for 36 months; this period can come down to just 12 months if the applicant is willing to make an “exceptional direct investment” of up to 750,000 euros.
The applicant must either buy a residential property or take a lease on one. The property must be valued for at least 700,000 euros, if the applicant buys it, or pay an annual rent of at least 16,000 euros, if they lease it. In any case, the property must be held by the investor and their families for at least five years from the day they get their citizenship certificates.
A donation of at least 10,000 euros is also required to be made before applicants can get their citizenship certificates. The donation can be made to registered charities and non-governmental bodies that the Community Malta Agency approves.
All licensed agents are required to register with the new Community Malta Agency by Feb. 19, industry professionals said.
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