In Malta right now there are more than 42,300 foreigners who seem to be filling the vacancies in two different employment categories. On the one hand there are workers in sectors such as gaming, financial services, IT and pharmaceuticals for which we do not have enough Maltese workers, and no matter how many new people qualify in these fields there will still not be enough to keep up with the demand. Then there are those sectors which are no longer that attractive to Maltese workers.
Malta is a member of the EU, and where employment is concerned, the country of origin makes a difference. At the moment there are 29,500 employees from EU countries. They have registered their employment with JobsPlus and have obtained a residence document, which in Malta is also an ID document, on the basis of which they exercise their right to freedom of movement.
The procedure is not that simple for citizens coming from non-EU countries, of which there are currently 12,800 working in Malta. According to an EU directive, these non-EU citizens need to apply for a residence and work permit in Malta at one entity: Identity Malta. This agency consults with JobsPlus as well as with the Police before it decides whether to issue what is known as the single permit, because it includes both the residence and work permits. Those who are third country nationals are given this permit as long as they satisfy a number of criteria including the lack of workers in the particular sector they wish to work in. They also need to indicate from beforehand who is going to employ them and what their job will be.
Ryan Spagnol, senior manager at Identity Malta, said, “one needs a proper form of identification, in other words, a valid passport or visa, and the confirmation from your employer that he made an effort to find Maltese or European workers, and that you have the right qualifications and suitability for the post. We have what are called regulated professions, which require a warrant from the respective board in Malta. One may be asked for evidence that one has a means of subsistence, and that you did not come to Malta with just the shirt on your back. Every application from non-EU nationals has to be vetted by the Immigration Police. In other words, the Police give their views, and if the Police object, then immediately, as soon as we receive certain information from them, the request for a residence permit is turned down right away.”
Not all foreigners from non-EU countries with a residence permit in Malta can work. There are those who are here to study or for family reasons, such as marriage.
Foreign workers pay tax which goes to the Maltese treasury. From information given in Parliament by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, in six years the amount of income tax paid by foreigners has doubled: from €51m in 2011 to €100m in 2016. Apart from this, foreigners also pay national insurance. However, since many spend only a short period of time here, they do not pay enough N.I. to make them eligible for a Maltese pension.