Failed asylum seekers with roots in Malta can now apply for residence

Identity Malta will grant Specific Residence Authorisation to long-term immigrants who are not eligible for international protection but cannot be returned to their country of origin

A migrant had begged the President in 2017 to intervene after government stopped issuing temporary protection to failed asylum seekers (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
A migrant had begged the President in 2017 to intervene after government stopped issuing temporary protection to failed asylum seekers (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Migrants left in limbo after government suspended a policy to grant temporary humanitarian protection to failed asylum seekers, can now benefit from a new residence scheme.

The Specific Residence Authorisation was announced this afternoon by Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia and Reforms Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia.

The new policy replaces the Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) policy of 2010, which was stopped two years ago amid concerns raised by migrant advocacy groups.

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Government said the new system was targeted at a number of THPN certificate holders and other people who are not eligible for international protection but cannot be sent back to their country of origin.

The new system will be managed by Identity Malta and not the Refugee Commissioner.

Beneficiaries of this status will no longer be required to obtain a certificate from the Refugee Commissioner every year.

Eligible applicants will be able to apply for a two-year renewable residence permit, giving the individuals more stability.

All applications for a residence permit will continue to be vetted by the Police Immigration Office.

The government insisted the policy changes did not mean that all rejected asylum seekers will be entitled to a regular status in Malta.

the government is recognising that a number of persons have been actively contributing to Maltese society for several years, have learnt Maltese or English, have built relationships with Maltese citizens... government statement

“The government’s position remains that those persons who are not in need of international protection should return to their country of origin. Nevertheless, the government is recognising that a number of persons have been actively contributing to Maltese society for several years, have learnt Maltese or English, have built relationships with Maltese citizens and a life on our island,” the statement said.

It added that government was not insensitive to these situations and acknowledged the need to have a standard procedure in place, which would treat such persons with dignity.

“The policy is intended to reduce social exclusion among migrant communities and recognise the efforts of migrants who are actively contributing to our society,” the government said.

The changes form part of government’s drive to implement the principles set out in the Migrant Integration Strategy and Action Plan Vision 2020.

The Home Affairs Ministry said the policy would not be able to address all issues raised throughout the consultation process but described it as “a good step forward towards mending a system which has been broken for far too long”.

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