[WATCH] Government launches revamped residency and visa programme

Applicants must either buy or rent property, invest at least €250,000 and pay a contribution fee of €30,000 • Agents registered with Identity Malta will be responsible for their clients

New Residency and Visa Programme launched - Video by Ray Attard

Parliamentary secretary Jose Herrera today announced a revamped residency and visa programme with the aim of "attracting international investors" to the island by offering "an advantageous" programme granting residency in Malta and a visa by which they could access the Schenghen area.

Launching the new programme at the Chamber of Commerce's premises, Herrera said that the programme "represents a new level of investment and further economic growth".

"Through the scheme, each individual will spend at least a quarter of a million. This money will be invested in the creation of more jobs, the training of workers, embellishment projects, the engagement of more nurses and investment in education," Herrera said.

The Legal Notice was published today.

The junior minister lauded the cooperation between the government and the opposition in drafting the new legal notice and praised the contribution given by PN deputy leader Mario de Marco.

"It's important that that we collaborate together over matters involving the financial services," Herrera said, reiterating that consensus was important.

The 2015 programme is not the first of its type: a former scheme - the Permanent Residence Scheme - was suspended by the PN administration and replaced by the High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) Scheme in 2011. This did not prove to be popular and a Global Residence Programme was launched in 2013. This too proved to be unpopular and a revamped programme was drafted in consultation with the Opposition and stakeholders.

Under the new programme, the value of immovable property bought in Malta by foreigners has to be at least €320,000, while the minimum value for property is in the south of Malta or in Gozo for €270,000. The prices are higher than the previous programme.
The applicant can choose to rent property in Malta for a yearly minimum of €12,000 or rent property in southern Malta or Gozo for a minimum of €10,000 a month.

From time to time, the beneficiary must make investments - as determined by Identity Malta - at an initial value of €250,000 and a contribution  of €30,000.

The applicant must also file an affidavit proving that his annual income stands at €100,000 or holds a minimum capital of €500,000.
The residency permit is not a work permit.

Herrera explained that the Legal Notice was issued under the Immigration Act: "The granting of a residency permit is a privilege, not a right. This means that the permit is not indefinite and the authority reserves the right to terminate the permit if the beneficiary fails to meet the obligations or breaches regulations."

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and satisfy a number of conditions, including a clean criminal conduct of both applicants and dependants. In the case of Malta's programme, dependants do not include drivers, maids, butlers and so forth. The applicant must be covered with a health insurance. In case of death, the beneficiary's residency permit cannot be inherited. Dependents who are no longer considered as such by law will have to apply for a residency permit.

Applications will be processed through approved or accredited agents who are warranted lawyers, legal procurators, notaries and accountants.

While saying that any institution or programme has its downside, Herrera warned against a knee-jerk reaction following revelations concerning the issue of residency permits to Libyan nationals by accountant Joe Sammut and the involvement of organized crime in online betting companies registered in Malta.

“I was told to remove the fiduciary regime, which would kill financial service in Malta. What I’m going to do is see if I can fine tune it,” he said, adding that government would be introducing a two-tier programme.

Herrera said that while Identity Malta will continue doing its due diligence, he said professionals can lose their warrant if they are found guilty of any wrongdoing and must assume their responsibilities.

“What we’re trying to do in this programme is higher the standard,” he said.