Malta’s Citizenship by Investment Program
The country of Malta is composed of a small group of islands located in the central Mediterranean Sea. Malta boasts an excellent climate, a low crime-rate, well-established telecommunications infrastructure, and an efficient healthcare system. The country’s economy rests on its successful manufacturing, tourism, food and beverage, and international financial services industries. Additionally, since 2004 Malta has been a member of the European Union and has taken a prominent step onto the world stage.
On account of these country conditions, its pro-business policies, and strategic trade location, Malta has become a very popular option for foreign investors.
Malta’s Individual Investor Program
Late in 2013, the Maltese parliament enacted a new immigration law called the Individual Investor Program (IIP). The IIP is aimed at encouraging foreign investment into Malta’s economy by incentivizing foreign nationals with the promise of a Maltese passport. Under the provisions of the new law, foreign nationals who make a minimum investment of 650,000 Euros (with an additional 25,000 Euros required for each accompanying spouse and child), may immediately be granted Maltese citizenship, and receive a Maltese passport, without first becoming a permanent resident.
Along with the minimum investment amount, the foreign national must also pass an extensive criminal background check wherein the applicant’s name and biographic information is verified against multiple government databases such as Interpol, the CIA, and the FBI. Additionally, Malta’s immigration authorities will also perform a thorough risk assessment of the individual’s nationality and job experience before approving the IIP application.
Importantly, unlike Malta’s second investment-based citizenship program described below, the IIP does not require qualifying foreign nationals to purchase property or even reside in Malta.
Malta’s Global Residence Program
Malta offers a second citizenship by investment program called the Global Residence Program (GRP). Foreign nationals may qualify for the GRP by purchasing or renting property located in Malta. If purchased, the property must be valued between 220,000 Euros to 275,000 Euros, and if rented, the annual rent must total between 8,750 Euros and 9,600 Euros.
Another difference between the IIP and the GRP is that the GRP initially bestows only Malta residence not citizenship. A foreign investor who participates in the GRP must physically reside in Malta for at least five years before applying for citizenship.
Benefits of Malta Citizenship
In receiving Maltese citizenship and a passport, the individual is empowered with full voting rights in the country and is entitled to live, work, study, and travel in the nation. Malta does not bar dual citizenship so foreign nationals will not be required to renounce their previous nationality upon obtaining a Maltese passport.
Additionally, because of Malta’s membership in the European Union, bearers of Maltese passports enjoy the rights of free movement throughout the EU member countries and can also vote in elections for the European Parliament. Finally, on account of Malta’s agreement with the United States, Malta passport holders are also exempt from the American visa requirement if traveling to the U.S. for a period of less than 90 days.