Maltese citizenship can be acquired at birth, through naturalization or via registration. However, recent years have seen the introduction of the ability to acquire citizenship through an investment programme. The Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (ESDI) Programme attracts both talent and high net worth individuals to Malta. Its most desirable features include the ability to settle anywhere within the European Union, as well as visa free travel to over 165 countries.
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How does it work?
Malta’s attractive position within Europe and the European Union have made it a popular choice for citizenship by investment. As a form of investment migration, the ESDI attracts high net worth individuals who are looking, together with their immediate family, to live a better life in a more stable environment. It remains one of the main ways that Malta attracts investment, talent and economic prosperity. The ESDI is regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act and the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, 2020. In order to be eligible for the ESDI, the applicants must reside in Malta for not less than 1 or 3 years (depending on the path chosen), pass a very rigorous 4-Tiers due diligence check and satisfy a number of requirements, including:
- Investment of not less than €600,000 (or €750,000 in case of 1 year of residing in Malta) made to the Maltese Government.
- Undertake a lease of residential property in Malta for a minimum value of €16,000 per year, or purchase a property for a minimum value of €700,000.
- Donate not less than €10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic non-governmental organisation or society.
What’s the process?
The application process for the ESDI is split into three stages:
The first step is for the applicants to start their residence in Malta. At this stage the Tier 1 due diligence check is performed on the prospective applicant by the Agent. If this check is passed, the applicants may proceed to apply for Maltese Residency. The residency cards are issued for a period of 3 years. During this time the applicant will be allowed to reside in Malta and travel freely within the Schengen area.
2. Eligibility & Due Diligence
Not later than within 12 months from the issue of residence card the applicant and the agent must compile and submit the full pack of all required documentation and application forms to Community Malta Agency (AKM) which will carry out Tiers 2, 3 & 4 due diligence checks over a period of approximately 120-150 days. During this time the details provided in the citizenship application are corroborated and AKM will work to ensure that the applicants pose no risk of harm the security or reputation of Malta. It is important to note that this process attracts fees that are non-refundable, even if it is decided that the application is terminated at this point. Once AKM concludes the review of the applicant favourably, the Letter of Approval for Eligibility is issued. This letter enables the applicant to apply for citizenship in one year or three years’ time.
3. Citizenship & Investment
The final stage is reached once the applicant has concluded the mandatory residence period and has been entirely approved as appropriate for the ESDI. A letter of approval in principle will be issued by AKM, at which point the applicant is free to proceed with the contributions and investments described in the previous section. Then AKM will issue a letter inviting all members of the family to take the Oath of Allegiance. The certificate of naturalization and Maltese passport are then issued within approximately seven working days.
How AE can help?
AE’s Residency and Immigration department can help you with the entire application lifecycle. Our purpose is to provide solid, unwavering guidance so clients feel secure in the knowledge that their application is receiving the care and attention required, affording it the best possible chance of success. AE’s dedicated team will help clients build a well-rounded personal profile, which is an integral part of the application and due diligence stages. They’ll also fill out and file all the required paperwork on behalf of the client, and attend each necessary meeting with the authorities. Our services even include overseeing the obligatory appointment of an Accredited Agent who will appear on the client’s behalf and represent them during the application process.