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 Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) was created 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, 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 one of the best in the world.
- 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?
It is wrong to say that the Individual Investor Programme is the same as the Malta passport for sale design just because the latter requires a financial investment. Some media announcements regularly use terms such as “Maltese passport for sale” when considering the island’s citizenship programme, but wealthy entrepreneurs expecting to immediately buy Maltese citizenship are going to be disappointed. The IIP is not an EU passport for sale scheme, but it is a legal citizenship by investment programme recognized by the European Commission.
No one can buy a Maltese passport tomorrow or instantly buy Malta citizenship outright by spending some fortune; the Individual Investor Programme requires applicants to secure residency on the islands and build a real genuine connection with the country.
Eligibility Criteria for Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP)
The applicant must meet several requirements to apply for this exclusive programme. This has been further divided into groups for a better understanding:
- The applicant must be age 18 years or above.
- The applicant needs to hold a clean criminal record.
- The applicant must never have been denied a visa to a country with which Malta has visa-free travel tie-up.
- The applicant must have a comprehensive global healthcare plan and should not have any contagious disease which could be a cause of concern to the Maltese health industry.
The applicant should meet the three key financial requirements stated below:
The primary applicant must pay a fee of €650,000, a one-time donation to the National Development Fund of Malta. Furthermore, for every child below 18 years of age, the applicant must pay €25,000. If the child is unmarried and is between 18 years to 26 years of age, the applicant must pay €50,000. If the applicant wishes to sponsor his parents, he/she must pay €50,000 for every parent above 55 years of age.
This donation is used to finance various projects in Malta relating to public health, social improvement, innovation, etc. It should be done within four months of the issue of a Malta IIP Letter of Approval in Principle.
The applicant must invest an amount of at least €150,000 in Maltese bonds, stocks, debentures, special purpose vehicles/entities, or other investment modes. The amount invested has to be retained for a minimum period of five years.
The applicant must acquire a property in Malta having a minimum value of €350,000 and retain it for a minimum period of 5 years. He/she could alternatively lease a property in Malta for a minimum annual rent of €16,000 and keep it for a minimum period of 5 years.
The primary applicant must prove that he/she has been a resident of Malta for at least twelve months, preceding the issuance of the naturalization certificate.
The applicant needs to deposit all the required fees after receiving the Letter of Approval in Principle, making the MIIP Malta a fair process with minimal investment risk.
Application Through Approved Agent
Applicants for the Malta Individual Investor Programme need to utilize the services of Approved Agents (AA) who 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 MIIP Malta Agency appoints individuals who ensure professional values, smoothens communication and guarantee responsibility for each application. They also carry out the Know Your Client (KYC) procedure on the client in line with the norms of the financial services industry in the country.
Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) Application Process
The application process to obtain Maltese Citizenship takes around a year to complete. It is a rigorous process which starts by submitting an e-Residence Application and ends with the issuance of a certification of naturalization. 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 for the programme. All the required documents are prepared such as the letter of engagement, Malta police clearance, etc. It takes around four months to review the application. The regulator performs the initial due diligence checks. The Malta IIP comprises of a four-tier due diligence process, which is considered the most rigorous, and of the highest standard amongst all the 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 check is a crucial step because this scrutinized approach ensures that only the rightful applicants make it through the programme.
Step 2: Residency Permit
The candidate applies for the residency permit to start the 12-month residency requirement for citizenship. The applicant needs to be physically present for the biometrics. He/she receives the Malta residence permit and card.
Step 3: Application Submission
In this step, the application is submitted to the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) with the amount due after the police approval, background checks, and the rigorous due diligence process. It takes nearly 21 weeks from step 1 to step 3.
Step 4: Application Process
After a four-month review period, 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
At this point, the applicants are formally requested to settle the contribution fees within 20 working days.
Step 6: Investment Requirements
The applicants have to prove their qualifying property investment, health insurance, and property details by providing proper evidence.
Step 7: Oath of Allegiance
The applicants along with their family members are invited to take an Oath of Allegiance in Malta upon fulfillment of all Malta Individual Investor Programme obligations.
Step 8: Certificate of Naturalization and getting the Maltese Passport Application
The applicants and the family members finally get the certificate of naturalization from the Government of Malta. It takes a total of fifty-five weeks to obtain the Maltese passport.
Malta Individual Investor Programme Due Diligence Process
The IIP Malta comprises of a four-tier due diligence process, which is regarded as the most rigorous, and of the highest standard in the industry.
In this tier, there is a regular KYC due diligence done by both the IIP Unit and the agent through databases such as World-Check.
After performing thorough checks through several databases like Interpol, Europol, etc., the second level clearance is obtained from the police authorities. The IIP Unit gets informed in case any issues are encountered at this point. All applicants belonging to the Third Country Nationals, have to go through the standard Schengen screening procedures.
The IIP team takes charge of the third tier of due diligence. This level again has two stages. The first stage is to verify if the application is correctly filled in. If not, this in itself would identify peculiarities in the application form that highlight any potential threat. Every supplementing documentation submitted to the IIP Unit must be filled correctly, follow a proper format, be translated accurately, and notarized if required. If any documents are missing, or the forms have errors, the agent who represents the family applying for Maltese citizenship needs to re-submit them, and the application process pauses until everything is in order. The second stage is that of a full and in-depth online due diligence check and verifying of documents submitted. These checks include checking with external databases for authorized individuals and companies. Similar scrutiny is conducted on all the members of the family applying for citizenship and on their corporate affiliations, any significant transactions, donations, or inheritance, and any relevant business partners or very close associates.
On completion of these checks, another member of the due diligence team reviews all the information gathered both internally and externally to prepare an internal memo. The IIP Unit can carry on more checks if the level of clarity required is not satisfying. The IIP Unit asks further questions to the applicant to ensure it has the right and proper understanding of the family’s application. Information is exchanged with the due diligence companies to ensure consistency in some instances.
After this, every application is first discussed internally within the IIP Due Diligence team. The team comprises of eight individuals from a banking and audit background, trained in anti-money laundering regulations. The information is shared internally, and after confirming the same, the senior management team discusses it further with the IIP Unit. If the team needs more information or clarification, those are sought from the applicant before recommending the citizenship approval to the Minister.
Eventually, the senior management of the IIP takes a mutual decision where they provide a proposal and present it to the Minister responsible for citizenship. They submit the file with all the supporting documentation of due diligence reports and findings. The Minister, together with the team reviews once again upon which a final decision is made.
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, the applicant is not liable to pay tax on worldwide income or foreign capital profits. If the individual becomes a tax resident, the tax would only be due on the income/capital profits arising in Malta, and foreign revenue, but excluding accumulated capital, if received in Malta.
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 Maltese Citizenship by Investment. 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 in the world of business and commerce and is fast becoming one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies. Malta earned its reputation as the best country to do business as it has a competitive tax regime and well-developed legal system, apart from having low sustaining costs, as well as a highly-skilled yet talented workforce that speaks proficient English.
Nonetheless, Malta’s strong economic performance can also be attributed to the government’s pro-business attitude as it seeks to foster favorable situations to lure foreign direct investment. Since many years, the Maltese economy has expanded impressively in the high-end manufacturing and services industry, establishing itself as a sound financial administration, a popular tourist destination and a hub for information and communication technology, gaming and blockchain industries. 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 Malta investor Immigration Programme 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.