By virtue of Legal Notice 189 of 2017 published on 4th July, 2017, significant amendments have been made to the Malta Residence and Visa Regulations (hereunder referred to as the “principal regulations”) introduced in 2015, which seek to improve the Malta Residence and Visa Programme already in place. Such programme has the end objective of providing foreign applicants and their eligible dependents with the opportunity to obtain and retain residence and visa permits in Malta. Amongst the various changes made, this article seeks to review the most crucial ones that undoubtedly leave a noteworthy impact on the way foreign applicants are to approach this Programme.

It is noteworthy to point out an amendment that has re-worded several provisions in the principal regulations. Identity Malta, which was the appointed responsible authority for the Malta Residence and Visa Programme has been substituted with the Malta Residence and Visa Agency.

Furthermore, while the contribution of the main applicant has remained unchanged at Euro 30,000 which covers the main applicant, spouse, and the children of the main applicant and/or the spouse at application stage, an additional Euro 5,000 non-refundable contribution has been introduced per parent or grandparent of the main applicant or of the spouse at application stage.

While various definitions have been revamped by the new regulations of 2017, the most important amendment is that made to the definition of the term “dependent”. This is because the age restriction of 26 years or younger attached to adult dependants of the main applicant or of his/her spouse until he/she would turn 27 has been completely removed.

As a result, it is now possible for any adult dependent of the main applicant or of his/her spouse, who is unmarried and economically dependent on the main applicant can be included as a dependant of the main applicant for the purposes of the Programme irrespective of the age, and Malta residency and visa rights would not be lost upon his turning 27.

Furthermore, according to Regulation 5(5), where such dependent gets married at a later stage, the main applicant would have the right to include the spouse of the adult dependant and his / her children on the Main Beneficiary Certificate against a non-refundable administration fee of Euro 5,000 per additional person, subject to a successful due diligence check.

An amended Regulation 9 now also eliminates a burdensome restriction. Prior to the 2017 Legal Notice, under Regulation 9(1)(b) of the principal regulations, any beneficiary of the Programme would have ceased to benefit from it if he/she would have become or applied to become, a long-term resident of Malta as defined by the Status of Long-Term Residents (Third Country Nationals) Regulations. Long-term residents are defined as persons who reside legally and continuously in Malta for a period of five years without any interruption. Thus, any beneficiary of the Programme had to spend at least 6 consecutive months, or 10 months in aggregate in a five-year period to continue benefitting from this programme. The 2017 regulations have removed this restriction, which means that the main beneficiary and the eligible dependants can now reside in Malta for an indefinite period.

Since its introduction in 2015, the Residence and Visa Programme has proved to be a successful programme in Malta competing with others in the global residence-by-investment marketplace. This is why the above-mentioned amendments introduced in July 2017 are sure to increase the number of applicants wishing to benefit from all that Malta offers in this respect.