New visa policy aims to give non-EU students access to labour market

Study visa policy will allow access to Maltese labour market to students coming from outside the EU and to ensure only bona fide students are issued a visa to come to Malta

Stock photo (Source: Shutterstock)
Stock photo (Source: Shutterstock)

A new student visa policy, aimed at making it easier for third-country nationals to come to Malta to study, by, amongst other measures, opening up the country’s labour market to them, has been launched.

The education ministry said that private operators in the education have been finding it difficult to attract students from non-European Union countries, due to Malta’s limited consular representation, with the current consular agreement set-up not making it convenient and efficient for TCNs - who are usually either higher education students pursuing a course at Malta Qualifications Framework Level 5, or English language students - to come to Malta to study.

To solve this issue, the new policy will change the requirement for non-EU English language students to obtain a residence permit, replacing this with a national visa instead, which will be used to extend the students’ original authorisation to stay in Malta. A residence permit will only be required if their stay in Malta is going to exceed a year.

The new policy will moreover give non-EU students access to the Maltese job market, and will encourage them to start a career locally.

It will make it easier for students intending on coming to Malta, who do not have a Maltese consular mission or visa office in their country, by giving them the opportunity to submit a visa application without needing to present themselves in person, and making more efficient use of External Service Providers present in the TCNs’ countries.

Through the policy, the government also intends to ensure that only bona fide students are issued with a visa allowing them to travel to Malta, by placing a requirement on the education ministry, Identity Malta, and the police to keep a system of data sharing on students and educational institutions.

“TCNs pursuing a full-time course (exceeding 90 calendar days) leading to a higher education qualification recognised by MQRIC may take up employment for a maximum period of 20 hours per week, starting from their first year of studies. Moreover, TCNs who obtain a higher education qualification in Malta recognised by the MQRIC may extend their stay in Malta by six months. The new arrangements will make it possible for the country to retain the talent of highly skilled third-country nationals,” the education ministry said.

The ministry said the policy would address the current situation which “may be harming Malta’s potential in the education sector and prejudicing the significant investment of educational establishments in the Maltese economy”, and “is also limiting the efforts of these institutions to promote the country as a competitive education jurisdiction within the EU.”

It would also improve Malta’s competitiveness as an education jurisdiction, the ministry highlighted.