The Citizenship with Investment Programme is to be closed and agents have been informed not to accept any further applications. It will be replaced with new regulations at two levels. One level gives the right to apply to be qualified as residents after three years and the other level gives residents a chance to apply after one year but these have to make a larger economic contribution than that of the other level.
Although 300 further applications were needed to fill the stipulated programme, after Government widespread consultations including that with the Chamber of Commerce and agents, it was decided that come September the current programme will be closed and regulations changed so that foreign persons will have the right to apply for citizenship if they qualify and satisfy the criteria to be formulated by the new agency.
The Parliamentary Secretary Responsible for Citizenship, Alex Muscat, said the proposed Legal Amendment has already been made in Parliament and he hoped this would be agreed by the Chamber before the summer recess. He explained that the proposed changes follow two years of discussions and will address several difficulties arising from the current programme.
Under the new regulations, the applicant will have had to be resident in Malta for three years and in some exceptions resident for a year. For those waiting to be resident for three years they will have to pay €600,000 while those under the one-year residence will pay €750,000 as well as €50,000 for their dependants.
The income from the applications will remain as it and to be assigned on a 70% basis to the National Development Fund and 30% to the Government budget. PS Muscat said a new agency will administer the regulations with more stringent criteria’s. Applicants will also be bound to donate €10,000 to voluntary organisations.
Under the new regulations, the obligation for property purchase will increase to €700,000 or if they choose rental, a minimum of €18,000 annually in rent. Another reform is that agents processing the applications have to be professionals in regulations against money laundering. The facility of a Minister waiving the regulations for those who do not meet the regulations will be removed. PS Muscat said that as a result of these changes there will no longer be the perception that Malta is selling passports.
Parliamentary Secretary Muscat said that under the current programme 22% of applications had been refused but he admitted that four applications had bypassed the filtration verification process. He said that in two of the cases, their citizenship had been withdrawn and the two other cases are in the process of being withdrawn.