Malta Citizenship Programme Accepting Final Applications

Quota for Malta Citizenship by Investment programme soon reached

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | Published on 03 Jun 2020

Amendments to the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme

The Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme, the Malta Individual Investor Programme was launched by virtue of Legal notice 47 of 2014. As per Article 12 of this Legal Notice 'the number of successful main applicants shall not exceed the Malta Citizenship Quota one thousand and eight hundred (1,800) for the whole duration of the programme'

Malta Citizenship Quota approaching

According to the parliamentary secretary for citizenship and communities Alex Muscat's announcement in January 2020, more than 70 per cent of the Maltese citizenship quota has been reached.

Deadlines for last new MIIP applications

The Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) has on the 3rd of June announced that the 1,800 quota is about to be reached and the last applications are being accepted.  MIIPA will continue accepting applications for citizenship under the Malta Individual Investor Programme until the 30th of September 2020. This only applies for applicants who already obtained or would have obtained residency status by that date. 

In the case of new applicants, MIIPA will continue to accept residency applications until the 31st of July 2020.

Applicants who apply and obtain a residence card, but do not manage to submit a citizenship application by the 30th of September 2020, may be eligible under new regulations that the Government of Malta is considering, if they qualify.

MIIP 2.0 - Will there be a new Malta Citizenship Quota? A New Citizenship Programme?

Whether as a new quota under the existing the Malta Individual Investor Programme or as a new citizenship programme, it is not likely that this is the end of Malta's efforts to attract the world's elite to invest and do business in Malta.  What's certain is that a new citizenship programme or a new quota is an opportunity to revisit the investment and residency criteria to attract more local endorsement by the local community.   

Depoliticise the IIP

From his experience over the last 20 years of investment migration, senior partner Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti makes a strong case for "the citizenship debate to proceed on a national level with a view to depoliticise the IIP given this is a matter of national interest.  

A new investor programme should seek political consensus and should address the key pain points that have pained the MIIP since its inception.
Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, Senior Partner

The MIIP Investment Threshold

Currently the one-time non-refundable contribution required is at €650,000 for the main applicant.  A review of the programme is likely to consider whether it is high time to review this minimum contribution, possibly increasing it.

Residency Requirement

Under the IIP, a successful applicant is eligible for naturalisation as a Maltese citizenship after at least 12 months of residence.  While the law doesn't define 'residence', residence doesn't require physical presence for a full year. However, a residence card must be held for a minimum of 12 months and a sufficient level of integration with Malta should be achieved in order to satisfy this requirement.  In a legal article by senior lawyer Dr Antoine Saliba Haig and Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, senior tax and immigration partner at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, the citizenship law experts call this minimum level of connection with Malta 'the "Genuine Link".  

Personally a Maltese citizenship agent, Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker - also a senior partner at the firm - explains: 

The residence requirement was introduced to reflect the principle of effective nationality embraced by the Nottebohm Judgement (ICJ 1955) which set a minimum period of 1 year of connection with the country for the new citizenship to be recognised by other states. My experience with investors under the IIP is that investing, doing business in Malta or making Malta one of their preferred global footholds is often sufficient to satisfy this requirement."

Under the current programme, for applicants who do not fully relocate to Malta, Chetcuti Cauchi applies a rating system looking at 5 Genuine Link Criteria, namely Physical Presence, Personal links, Social links, Philanthropic activity and Commercial activity.  The 5 Genuine Link Criteria are not written down in law but we have used our extensive experience in this area to develop our Chetcuti Cauchi's Genuine Link Matrix.  Our Genuine Link Matrix enables applicants to plan their connections with Malta with some flexibility, in that .  

Requiring international high net worth investors or entrepreneurs and their families to fully relocate to qualify for citizenship is a non-starter in today's world, given the typical profile of applicants under the programme would not spend more than 3 months in their country of origin and would instead spend their time in between 2 or more family homes in different continents, minding business interests around the global and living a very international life. So increasing the minimum presence criteria for applicants is tantamount to shutting down the programme altogether.

Property Investment / Rental Requirements

Given the thresholds for property investment were set when the Malta citizenship programme was drafted back in 2013 and in the context of the property boom we have experienced since, there is a strong case for an upward revision.


Reference Materials

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Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

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+356 22056411

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

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