Work Permits

Work Permit for Foreign Workers Simplified

During these past couple of decades, it has become quite common for foreigners or foreign companies to relocate to a different jurisdiction for work. Article 11 of the Immigration Act holds that in order for persons to exercise a particular profession, occupation, hold an appointment or be employed by any person in Malta, such person must be granted a licence from the Minister. Obtaining an employment licence (or commonly referred to as a work permit) in Malta is employer specific, occupation-specific and location specific. It is essential that the relevant requisites are duly satisfied for the licence to be granted.

Obtaining a Malta Work Permit

As of 2018, Malta enjoys having the third lowest unemployment rate within the EU, where training and education are part of the national initiative, which is moreover normally backed by the EU. Whilst EU, EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss residents, as well as their family members, are eligible to work in Malta without the need to acquire a permit, third-country nationals (TCNs) wishing to work in Malta must apply for an employment licence (also referred to as a single permit). The laws relating to the granting of work permits are mainly held in the Immigration Act. Legal Notice 160 of 2014 is also of significant importance as it regulates the single permit procedure, where TCNs apply for both employment and residence in Malta.

Before granting a Malta work permit to a TCN, Jobsplus, the public employment service in Malta, must be satisfied that the following requisites have been followed:

  1. The applicant has secured an offer of employment from an employer in Malta, who must apply for the Employment Licence on behalf of the applicant
  2. The applicant possesses a specialist skill or qualification of which there is a significant shortage in Malta
  3. There must be a demand for employment in that particular field (for example, qualified nurses or construction workers).

As previously mentioned, Malta work permits for TCNs are employer and occupation specific. The Employment Licence is first and foremost applied for by the employer on behalf of the TCN, and it must also specify the job that will be performed. Therefore, if the Employment Licence is granted, it will permit the applicant to work for the specified employer, performing the job specified. This licence is considered to be a commitment between the employer and the TCN and therefore the applicant may not use the employment licence to take up another job for a different employer.

Recently, the Employment Licence Unit of Jobsplus issued a Checklist for the application of a new employment licence for a TCN. It holds that the following are required:

  • The application form filled in by the employer;
  • A recent passport size coloured photo;
  • A copy of all passport pages. The page holding the personal details and photo of the applicant must be certified as a true copy;
  • A certified true copy of a valid residence permit, Interim Permit or a Valid Visa;
  • A covering letter by the employer with a detailed description of why the position could not be filled by an EEA/Swiss/ Maltese national, proving that efforts for such competences were searched for;
  • A position description signed by the Employer;
  • A Curriculum Vitae of the prospective employee, signed by the TCN;
  • Copy of the qualification certificates of the prospective employee in relation to the occupation engaged for must be proven, including certified translated copies where applicable.
  • Saving regulated professions, if the prospective employee lacks the formal qualification for the position which he will be engaged, the TCN must have at least three years of experience relating to the field. The application form must also contain work references with certified translated copies where applicable. The references must contain information on the start and end dates of relevant employment and must state information on the work carried out and the competences achieved during such work. Contract details of the referee must be indicated.
  • A processing fee of €150 on the application and €80 upon the issuing of the licence are to be paid.

Upon its issuance, an Employment Licence is typically valid for one year. It may be renewed if the request is justified.

It is important to note the persons who do not require an employment licence. These include:

  • posted workers, including those who are based in another country within the EEA or Switzerland or those who have an employment relationship with their employer in that country but are not posted in Malta for a stipulated period;
  • Persons who normally or habitually carry out work in Malta
  • Persons who are primarily employed in another country that does not require an employment licence
  • Foreign nationals who are non-residents and non-executive directors if they don’t have an employment relationship with the company and are in receipt of a director’s remuneration, but not of a salary.

Single permits typically take 2-3 months to be issued as the employers must prove, barring certain exceptions, that they have tried to fill the vacancy with individuals from Malta, or any other EU/EFTA country before applying for the permit for the TCN. Therefore, the employer must present copies of vacancy adverts and a covering letter from the employer stating the reasons for employing the TCN.

Other methods to obtain a Work Permit in Malta:

In 2009, the European Council adopted the EU Blue Card Scheme , which is a merit-based system for non-EU citizens who have received an adequate education or are skilled through their professional experience entailing them highly qualified individuals. Such a measure was introduced due to labour shortage in particular fields of study, including research, mathematics, informatics, natural sciences, technology, and medicine. Eligibility for this scheme is subject to:

  • Proving that the MS in question has an economic interest which was scarce
  • The Business offered will have a positive effect on the economy of the hosting state
  • The individual holds the sufficient financial resources required for the operation of a business
  • The Individual has successful business experience
  • The employment is of impact and contributes to training, research, and innovation

Upon obtaining this Card, the individual will be exposed to: the same working and salary conditions as nationals; free movement within the Schengen area; socio-economic rights; favourable conditions for family reunification; permanent residence perspective and freedom of association.

Another scheme which may be used is the Key Employee Initiative which is a much faster method of obtaining a Malta work permit when compared to the Single Permit Procedure. This initiative issues a work/residence permit within 5 working days from the date of submission of the application. This scheme is pertinent to individuals occupying a managerial or highly-technical post. The following qualifications must be met:

  • An Annual gross salary of at least €30,000 per annum;
  • Certified copies of the relevant qualifications, warrants or the necessary work experience
  • A declaration by the employer holding that the applicant has the necessary credentials to perform the duties which will be assigned to him

This initiative was endorsed by Malta Enterprise as a way of promoting start-up projects. Once a person has been granted a permit under this scheme, the permit will be valid for one year, which may be renewed later on. Renewal of the permit may be for a maximum of three years if there is a valid definite or indefinite contract and if the original annual tax declaration has been stamped by the Inland Revenue Department.

Investment or Establishment Work Permits

Work permits may also be issued on the basis of investment in Malta, where two main work permits are considered: the self-employed work permit and the work permit for a shareholder or ultimate beneficial owner of a company. TCN’s who wish to take up self-employment in Malta may do so under exceptional cases. In order to attain the self-employed status, the TCN must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

  • Invest Capital Expenditure in Malta of at least €500,000 within 6 months from the issuing of the Jobsplus license. This expenditure shall solely consist of fixed assets (such as immovable property or plant and machinery) and must be used for business purposes which are held in the business plan submitted upon application. The application must be accompanied with receipts in the name of the TCN as proof of the expenditure as well as a letter of reference in respect of the TCN from a reputable Maltese bank which certifies that the TCN has the facility to raise such capital.
  • A highly skilled innovator with a sound business plan must also submit a commitment to recruit at least three Maltese/EEA/Swiss individuals within 18 months of its establishment.
  • A person leading a project approved by Malta enterprise and formally notified by the latter to Jobsplus

In the case of shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners of a Maltese resident company, the individual must meet one of the following criteria in order to qualify for a relevant work-permit:

  • Every TCN shareholder must have a fully paid-up share capital of at least €500,000 which cannot be redeemed, reduced or transferred to a third party during the first two years after the issuance of the Employment licence. This share capital must be carried out through a cash/stock injection in Malta.
  • The individual must have made a capital expenditure of at least €500,000 to be used by the company. This expenditure shall solely consist of fixed assets used for business purposes, as should be reflected in the business plan. This expenditure must be supported through receipts in the Company’s name.
  • The company is leading a project which has been formally approved by Malta Enterprise, which has also formally notified to Jobsplus.

At the application stage, a business plan must be submitted along with the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company for all the aforementioned scenarios. The individual must also present the Company Registration Certificate, which must hold that the company has been registered with the Malta Financial Services Authority.

Our Work Permit Services (For Employers, Company Executives & Managers)

Chetcuti Cauchi offers expert service to individuals who wish to live and work in Malta, helping them prepare any necessary documentation and submit them to the relevant authorities, as well as ensure that the necessary criteria have been satisfied. Our is well versed with the process of to Malta and will be of assistance during the process of attaining work permits for employees and the company itself. Our experts will be able to offer counsel and will work side by side with our taxation experts in order to provide our clients with any tax implication assistance. Our firm also offers services relating to job searches, employee recruitment, and any assistance if there are any job offers from an employer in Malta.

Looking for a Job?

Before applying for a work permit, you first need to have a job offer by employer in Malta.  

>> We do not provide job search and recruitment services.  <<

Contact Us
Please send me legal and other updates
Key Contacts

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

Senior Associate, Head of Immigration

+356 22056266

Marina Magri

Head of Immigration & Global Mobility

+356 22056147