Russians account for a third of new Maltese citizens

28% of all Saudis who became European citizens in 2016 did so by becoming Maltese, Eurostat figures show

Russians, British and Saudi Arabians were top three nationalities for people who became Maltese in 2016
Russians, British and Saudi Arabians were top three nationalities for people who became Maltese in 2016

Russians accounted for one in every three of citizens who became Maltese in 2016, figures released by the European statistics agency show.

Saudi Arabians who became Maltese citizens accounted for more than a fourth of all Saudi Arabians who became European citizens in 2016.

This emerges from statistics published by Eurostat showing that EU member states had granted citizenship to almost one million people in 2016. Of these, 875,000 came from outside the EU.

The statistics refer to all those who became citizens of an EU country irrespective of how they acquired citizenship.

The report notes that the number of new EU citizens hailing from Saudi Arabia shot up by 108% from 133 to 277. Of these 78 were naturalised in Malta.

This suggests that 28% of all Saudis who became citizens in a EU country in 2016 did so in Malta.

The number of foreign nationals who acquired Maltese citizenship increased from 646 to 1,495, between 2015 and 2016.

Malta had the largest increase in new citizens  between 2015 and 2016 but the naturalisation rate is still low
Malta had the largest increase in new citizens between 2015 and 2016 but the naturalisation rate is still low

This amounts to the third highest increase in the whole EU and probably reflects the impact of the Individual Investor Programme through which wealthy foreign nationals can acquire Maltese citizenship.

The figures include both citizens who acquired citizenship through the IIP scheme and others who were naturalised through marriage or after residing in Malta for a number of years.

In fact despite the sharp increase in new citizens hailing from other countries, Malta registers a relatively low naturalisation rate of just three new citizens for every 1,000 foreign residents living in it.

The highest naturalisation rates were registered in Croatia (9.7 citizenships granted per 100 resident foreigners), Sweden (7.9) and Portugal (6.5).

Russians in the EU

While the largest groups of new citizens in all EU member states hailed from Morocco, Albania and India, the largest groups who became Maltese citizens in 2016 hailed from Russia (33%), the UK (8%)  and Saudi Arabia (5%).

Russians constituted the largest group of new citizens in Malta, Cyprus, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Both Malta and Cyprus have individual investor programmes which involve the sale of citizenship.    

Apart from citizenship through naturalisation, Malta also sells citizenship to wealthy foreigners
Apart from citizenship through naturalisation, Malta also sells citizenship to wealthy foreigners

In contrast, a number of countries saw asylum seekers forming the bulk of new citizens.

Somalis account for the largest group of new citizens in Sweden and the Netherlands while Eritreans account for the largest group of new citizens in Norway.

Other countries like Germany are more likely to grant citizenship to guest workers from Turkey while others like Portugal tend to grant citizenship to former colonies like Brazil.  Moroccans prevail among new citizens in Belgium, Spain and France. Albanians prevail among the new Italians.

Age of new citizens

At 36 years, the median age of new Maltese citizens in 2016 was five years older than the median age of all new EU citizens.  

Only 10% of new Maltese citizens were aged between 25 and 34 compared to 19% in the EU 28. And while only 7% of all new EU citizens were over 55 years of age, in Malta over 55 year olds accounted for 16% of new citizens.  51% of all new Maltese citizens were aged over 35 compared to 41% of all naturalised EU citizens.

Just over half of new Maltese citizens are female.

Statistics also show that the number of UK nationals acquiring citizenship of another EU Member State more than doubled in 2016. This was the year Britain voted to leave the EU.

But no significant changes were seen in the percentage of British becoming Maltese, which already amounted to 8% of new Maltese citizens in 2015.

 

 

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