Updated | ‘Proof of residency’ required under new IIP legal notice

‘Residency requirements will be implemented in good faith’, says parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici.

Parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici flanked by Attorney General Peter Grech
Parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici flanked by Attorney General Peter Grech

No certificate of naturalisation will be issued unless the main applicant provides proof that he has been a resident of Malta for at least 12 months preceding the day of the issuing of the certificate of naturalisation, a new legal notice regulating the citizenship-by-investment programme states.

The new legal notice comes into effect after it was published in the Government Gazette this afternoon. The Legal Notice 47 of 2014 was vetted and approved by the European Commission's legal services, providing Malta with the first such investment programme to be sanctioned by the European Union.

It is yet unclear what constitutes "proof" especially since the current Article 10 of the Maltese Citizenship Act does not provide a specific definition of residency leaving room for legal interpretation. Same Article 10 of Chapter 188 of the Maltese Citizenship Act calls for an aggregate period of four years residency - over six years - preceding the said period of 12 months.

Addressing the press on the publication of Legal Notice 47 of 2014 - the legal notice under which the Individual Investor Programme is regulated - parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici said the residency requirement will be implemented in "good faith".

"Residency concept already exists in the Maltese Citizenship Act where Article 10 defines the concept for citizenship by naturalisation. We have agreed with the European Commission that the concept will be implemented as is today," he said.

Issues of residency, like citizenship matters, are to be decided by the member states.

Flanked by Attorney General Peter Grech, Bonnici said residency "does not mean living in Malta 365 days".

"It also does not mean that an applicant doesn't spend a day in Malta," he said. "We are creating the genuine link satisfying the requirement of residency before applicants graduate to citizens."

Pressed by journalists on the actual definition of residency and its proof, Bonnici reiterated that "actual days of residence are not enough" as proof, insisting such concept "has long been utilised" in Malta.

Now that the government has issued a new legal notice, it is unclear what happens to the motion filed by the Opposition over the previous legal notice, 45 of 2013.

The PN will be taking its position during a meeting of the parliamentary group scheduled for tomorrow. Last week, two days before the agreement reached between the government and the European Commission, the Opposition filed a judicial protest forewarning prospective applicants under the IIP that their acquired citizenship would come with an expiry date.

Bonnici is now urging the PN to clearly state that it no longer opposed the scheme now that the programme enjoys the Commission's support.

"Legally, the judicial protest is very weak and it's time for the Opposition to clearly state it no longer opposed it and that the controversy is now case closed."

The amendments to the legal notice are three:

1. Article 4(d) of the new legal notice states that the main applicant for citizenship must "commit himself to provide proof of residence in Malta, and to provide proof of title to residential property in Malta in accordance with these regulations".

2. Article 12 states that "in certificate of naturalisation under these regulations shall be issued unless the main applicant provides proof that he has been a resident of Malta for a period of at least 12 months preceding the day of the issuing of the certificate of naturalisation".

3. Article 16 of the same legal notice repeals the previous notice.


@ Fed Up - I sincerely hope that Malta won't even consider giving citizenship to people like Roman Abramovich. Residency is one thing, citizenship is another. I only wish that Malta was as strict as the UK with regards to residency and citizenship requirements. I know a thing or two about UK law on this subject .... trust me Fyi - (see link below) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/abramovich-attempted-to-obtain-british-citizenship-6259634.html
@fantozzi. Why don't you ask the European Commission to define residency for you? Why do you split hairs when the scheme it already agreed upon?
@ Fantozzi . Why don't you ask the globe trotting Russian, Asian, and Chinese oligarchs who 'reside' in London and Switzerland what 'residency' means ?
fantozzi, do you excel at splitting hairs? Rules re this subject (residency) have been in place a long time. Those same rules and criteria would now apply as well to IIP. How do police forces trace a person's movements? Wouldn't you say that documented and computerised data be sufficient? Now that you have lost this war, some of you are still hot under the collar and want to somehow dissipate their inner anger. Shut up and move on. This particular war has ended.
Can Owen Bonnici please define residency and, more importantly, let us know what evidence will be required of the applicant to prove that he was resident in Malta for 12 months. How can a foreigner outside the EU reside in Malta without a valid visa that is, for example, granted on the basis of employment?
Ara daqsxejn kif Joey(kif It-Times thallihomlil akkolti tal-PN jiktbu fuq l-Prim Ministru) rega laghab bihom! Hafna figli di papa, ghax missierhom jew nannuhom kien xi 'founding father'( biex nuzaw l-frazi imqansha Amerikana)ohrajn pompuzi u giddibin bhal ma smajt wiehed minnhom jigdeb il-bierah, u hafna pozi u regghu dahlu ghaiha! Semghu mis-sahhara, Simon kien diga ha poza ta Prim Ministru, u bhal Ziggy Stardust- rega sab ruhhu fid-dinja reali: fl-oppozizzjoni b'disa sigijiet minoranza u partit imfarrak u bla boxla aktar minn qatt qabel!
It would be nice if someone helped me find the legal notice.
At last. There you have it, Simon. All this suspense was killing you.