A growing number of wealthy individuals are looking for opportunities to migrate to a developed country. Tired of the political and socio-economic instability in their own countries, or simply wanting a change, migration gives them a solution of providing themselves, and their immediate family members, the opportunity to live a better life in a more stable environment. Few individuals also migrate to expand their business interests. This increasing need created a demand for citizenship by investment programmes. Few countries like Malta, which took this smart move, are attracting a wealth of expertise and economic success.
The MIIP (Malta Individual Investor Programme) was created in order to promote Maltese Citizenship by Investment to non-Maltese nationals and their dependents. It is a one of its kind citizenship programme to have permission from the European Commission. The programme is governed by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188) and the Individual Investor Programme Rules, 2014 (LN 47 of 2014).
Applicants who successfully meet all the required criteria are granted citizenship by giving a certificate of naturalization to them and their families, in return for the monetary contribution to the economic development of Malta.
The MIIP Malta initially faced a lot of criticism in spite of the advantages it provided to the country. However, it is safe to say that this programme helped Malta not only to bring in people who are willing to invest but who also believe in the economic potential of the small island nation.
Benefits of the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP)
Malta is a perfect choice for residency. With its warm people, nice and mild weather, exquisite food and exceptional location for traveling to other destinations in Europe, or in other countries like the Caribbean, Malta is one great nation! Whether you want a lively culture, deep history, delicious food or nice climate – Malta really has it all. Here are a few benefits of residing in Malta:
- With the Malta Individual Investor Programme, the applicant becomes a Maltese citizen by investment process.
- The applicant can study, travel, work, live, and buy property anywhere in the 28 EU countries and Switzerland.
- The applicant gets Schengen Residence Status for one year before the issuance of the passport.
- The applicant does not need to pay local taxes unless the stay exceeds more than six months.
- The applicant’s dependents get all the advantages along with the applicant.
- The climate of Malta is perfect for settling down.
- The programme allows visa-free travel or on-arrival visa to more than 160 countries.
- Malta is known for its low crime rate, making it stable and safe for residing.
- People are friendly, and Malta is proud of its multicultural society.
- Malta provides free access to public education. People who get Maltese nationality through the Immigrant Investor Programme can go to college in Europe without requiring to qualify as a foreign student. The entrance requirements at the top universities in Europe are significantly lower for students from other EU countries compared to students applying from outside, and often the tuition rates charged by universities and colleges will be much cheaper for Europeans.
- It also offers a free healthcare system which WHO classifies as amongst the world’s best.
- Malta is considered as one of the top relocation destinations in the world, because of its unlimited employment, business, and uber lifestyle opportunities.
How To Buy A Maltese Citizenship?
Viewing the Individual Investor Programme and the sale of a Maltese passport as the same thing, just because the latter requires the applicant to make a monetary investment, would be wrong. It may be tempting to draw comparisons between the two, especially as many media outlets commonly refer to “a Maltese passport for sale” in reference to the programme for citizenship.
However, those wishing to gain immediate citizenships to Malta in return for funds will be left disappointed. This is not a scheme selling EU passports for profit. Instead, the IIP is recognized by the European Commission as being a legitimate programme offering legal citizenship with the requirement of a financial investment in the island.
It is not possible to outright purchase a Maltese citizenship immediately simply by spending some fortune. IIP applicants must invest in real estate in Malta and have genuine and legitimate ties to the country.
Eligibility Criteria for Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP)
Applicants on the Malta Individual Investor Programme must meet a number of requirements before their application is successful, including standard and financial criteria. These are as follows:
- Applicants must be a minimum age of 18 years.
- They must provide evidence of a clean criminal record.
- They must never have had a visa denied to them from a nation with a visa-free arrangement with Malta.
- They must hold a comprehensive global healthcare plan and be in good health, meaning they are not suffering from any contagious diseases which could cause unnecessary strain on the country’s health services.
Candidates must meet the three key financial requirements stated below:
The main candidate on the programme is required to make a one-off €650,000 donation to the country’s National Development Fund. Furthermore, for every dependent child below the age of 18, there is an additional €25,000 payment required. This increases to €50,000 if the child is aged between 18-26 years and is unmarried. If the applicant wishes to sponsor their parents, a €50,000 also applies for each parent aged 55 years or over.
The donation should be made within a period of four months from the Malta IIP Letter of Approval in Principle being issued. The donation funds are for a good cause and will finance several different projects focused on health services, innovation and social improvement across Malta.
A minimum investment of €150,000 in Maltese stocks, bonds and debentures or other government approved investment modes must be made by the applicant. This must also be retained for at least a five year period.
Candidates on the programme must acquire local real estate with a €350,000 minimum value. Alternatively, property may be leased if it has a €16,000 or higher annual rent value. Property investments must be retained for a minimum t5 years.
The candidate must provide evidence that they have been a Maltese resident for a minimum of twelve months, preceding the naturalization certificate being issued. They must also deposit all the required fees upon receiving their Letter of Approval in Principle. This means that the programme requires minimal financial risk for the applicant and ensures a fair process.
Applying via an Approved Agent
The services of Approved Agents (AA) must be utilized by MIIP applicants. These agents are authorized and qualified to guide them through the entire application process.
These Approved Agents are trained individuals, holders of a license in their profession, and recognized in their capacity or who work on behalf of firms. The agents are appointed by the Individual Investor Programma (IIP) Malta Agency to ensure professional values, smoothens communication and guarantee responsibility for each application. Their responsibilities also include conducting the applicant’s Know Your Client (KYC) procedure, keeping in line with the country’s financial service industry norms.
Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) Application Process
The application process to obtain Maltese citizenship should take approximately a year. This involves a rigorous process, beginning with the submission of a candidate’s e-Residence Application and concluding with a certificate of naturalization being issued to them. Following are the steps that need to be followed:
Step 1: Initial Checks
In this step, there is a check if the applicant is eligible to participate in the investment programme. This includes the preparation of required documentation, such as the letter of engagement, Malta police clearance, etc. It takes around four months to review the Malta citizenship application. The regulator performs the initial due diligence checks. The due diligence process for the MIIP consists of four different tiers and is considered amongst the most rigorous processes out of all immigration programmes. The programme is not about monetary figures, but more about quality and attracting the right expertise which adds value to the country. This is a vital step in ensuring that only legitimate candidates proceed with the programme.
Step 2: Residency Permit
This step involves application for a residency permit, which is required to begin the 12-month-long residency requirement for citizenship. The candidate must also be physically present in the country to undergo biometric checks. He/she receives the Malta residence permit and card.
Step 3: Application Submission
In this step, the application is submitted to the MIIPA (Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency), including all funds due for payment, following the completion of background checks, police approval and the full rigorous due diligence process. It takes nearly 21 weeks from step 1 to step 3.
Step 4: Application Process
Following a review period which takes four months, the Malta Individual Investor Programme confirms if the documentation submitted is formally in order. It is subjected to further investigative due diligence. An approval letter is issued after that if everything is in place.
Step 5: Contribution Fees
Once all the above steps are completed, candidates will receive a formal request to settle the contribution fees within 20 working days.
Step 6: Investment Requirements
Proper evidence must be provided by the applicants to prove they meet the health insurance, qualifying property investment and property detail requirements
Step 7: Oath of Allegiance
Along with all their included family members and dependents, applicants will be invited to visit Malta to make an Oath of Allegiance following the fulfillment of all the obligations outlined in the Malta Individual Investor Programme.
Step 8: Receiving your Certificate of Naturalization and Maltese Passport
The main candidate and their dependents will finally receive a certificate of naturalization, issued by the Maltese government. It will take a period of around 55 weeks to obtain a passport for Malta.
Malta Individual Investor Programme Process for Due Diligence
The Maltese Individual Investor Programme comprises a due diligence process separated into four different tiers, which is regarded as the most rigorous, and of the highest standard of all similar citizenship programmes.
This tier includes a regular Know Your Client (KYC) due diligence check. This is performed by the IIP Unit, as well as the appointed agent via relevant databases, like World-Check, for example.
Upon completion of thorough checks through several different databases, including the likes of Europol and Interpol, police authorities provide second level clearance. They will inform the IIP Unit of any issues during this stage. The standard Schengen procedure of screening will also apply to all applicants from the Third Country Nationals.
The third due diligence tier falls under the responsibility of the IIP tram. Again, this level has two stages. Firstly, the application is verified to ensure it has been correctly completed. These checks highlight any peculiarities within the application which could indicate a potential threat to the nation. Each supplementing documentation submitted from the applicant to the IIP Unit is required to be completed in full, correctly and within the proper format, be translated accurately, and, if required, also be notarized.
If any documentation is not included or is missing, or if the forms have errors, the assigned agent will be required to re-submit these, resulting in the pause of the application process until everything is present and correct.
Following this, the second stage involves a full and in-depth due diligence check conducted online, as well as verification of all submitted documentation. This involves reviewing authorized companies and individuals via external databases. This level of scrutiny also applies to all family members and dependents included on the citizenship application, along with any corporate or business affiliations, including partners and associates, as well as significant sums of donations, transactions or inheritance.
Once these checks have been completed, another agent of the due diligence team will conduct a review on all internally and externally gathered information. They will also prepare a memo for internal circulation. If the level of clarity that is required has not been satisfied, the IIP Unit can conduct additional checks at this stage.
Further questions will be asked by the IIP unit to ensure the main candidate has the full and proper understanding of the application of their family members and dependents. Due diligence companies will also share and exchange information to ensure accuracy and consistency in some instances.
Upon successful completion of the above, each application will be first discussed with the IIP Due Diligence teams internally. This team includes eight different individuals who are trained in the regulations against money laundering and who come from an audit and banking background. Information is exchanged and shared internally, and after confirming the same, a team of senior management and the IIP Unit will discuss it further. Should further information or more clarification be required, those are sought from the applicant before recommending the citizenship approval to the Minister.
The IIP senior management will eventually take a mutual decision, provide a proposal and make a presentation to the Minister who is responsible for Maltese citizenship application. The file is submitted along with supporting documents evidencing all findings and due diligence reports. Along with the team, the Minister then reviews once again upon which they will make a final decision on the application.
Tax Implications after Obtaining Citizenship in Malta
After the applicant earns the citizenry, he/she doesn’t become a tax resident. Only on spending six months in Malta, the applicant is eligible to start paying taxes. However, tax is not liable on any foreign capital profits or worldwide income. If the individual becomes a Maltese tax resident, then the tax payment would only become due on any capital profits or income accrued in Malta, and any foreign revenue that has been received in the country, but this excludes all accumulated capital.
Thus, the impact of taxation after obtaining citizenship in Malta is likely a minimum or nothing at all. If the applicant considers Malta as his residence and lives here for good, different rules apply in such a case.
The applicant can hold dual citizenship on receiving the Citizenship by Investment Malta. According to the Maltese law, dual citizenship is allowed. However, the applicant needs to check the rules of his/her country of origin to check if they approve of dual citizenship. Different countries follow different regulations or restrictions on dual nationality.
Investing in Malta
Malta is successfully recognized as a rising star across business and e-commerce industries and is fast becoming one of the most booming economies in all of Europe. This reputation as one of the finest countries to pursue business opportunities has been earned through Malta’s competitive tax regime and exceptional legal system, apart from having low sustaining costs, as well as a highly-skilled yet talented workforce that speaks proficient English.
Nonetheless, the nation’s impressive economic growth can also be attributed to a pro-business attitude from the Maltese government, which aims to foster favorable situations to attract direct investment from forein sources. Since many years, the Maltese economy has expanded impressively across multiple industries, including services and high-end manufacturing. This has allowed the country to establish itself as many things, including a popular tourist hotspot, a stable financial administration and a hub of information and communication technology, including the innovation of blockchain and gaming.
The government’s growth-friendly measures joined with its sound business policy creates a booming economy which, according to the latest EU forecast, is expected to remain well above the EU average in terms of growth, with a record low unemployment rate and securing its public finance in surplus.
The Investor Immigration Programme in Malta is one of the few European investment immigration programmes that offers citizenship directly, rather than through temporary or permanent residency. Through this programme, Malta as a country is attracting a wealth of talent and economic prosperity. It’s not only pulling investors from the EU but also from all over the world. Malta’s fast-paced development is making it a new center for growth and business opportunities. This programme can offer applicants and their families the settlement and growth rights not only in Malta but 28 other EU countries and Switzerland. Malta investor immigration is worth every effort and money.