The application process to acquire Maltese Citizenship starting with the submission of an e-Residence Application and ending with the issuance of a certificate of naturalisation proceeds as follows:
1. Power of Attorney
The Power of Attorney is the first step in the application process. The PoA allows the agent to act on behalf of the client in all matters related to the IIP. This includes providing Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) with additional information about the client which may already be held by the agent, or amending any information on the submission forms.The agreement should clearly state that the PoA is granted for all matters related to the IIP, whilst being valid for the entire duration of the IIP process.
At this stage, the agent starts compiling the residency application.
Preliminary note – Reinforced Residency Status
Prior to the acquisition of nationality, IIP enshrines a special status of residency for IIP applicants, which can be characterised as a “reinforced residency status” (RRS). The requirements applicable to this residency status in Maltese law are the most stringent when compared to any other residence. The rules governing the IIP provide for the granting of RRS to the applicants who fulfil the first set of conditions and the status applies in full until the applicant acquires the nationality, in case the remaining conditions are fulfilled.
The purpose of RRS is to confer on the applicant an effective residence status, linked to the specific requirements of the IIP. Consequently, and as already mentioned, under Maltese immigration rules, RRS is subject to more stringent requirements than any ordinary residence with the aim of ensuring that the acquisition of nationality is in line with the goals and requirements of IIP.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements entails automatic loss of RRS, including any benefits enjoyed as a result of said status to date. The loss of the status is reviewable in courts.
RRS is designed to facilitate an appropriate balance between freedom of movement and the compliance of effective residence in Malta for a period of 12 months prior to the acquisition of nationality for all applicants. As a result, although IIP applicants do not have a duty to prove physical and continuous presence in Malta, they have a duty of compliance with other requirements, including the duty of personal attendance in the course several steps in the naturalisation process and, significantly, meeting all the strict due diligence requirements, which form the essential element of the legal essence of the residence status.
In this regard, Professor Dimitry Kochenov – Chair of EU Constitutional Law at the Department of European and Economic Law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands – has reviewed the compliance of RRS with EU law at the request of the Maltese Government. In his opinion, received by the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency, RRS is a coherent and efficient means of ensuring that applicants for naturalisation through the IIP enjoy legal residence in Malta during the period of 12 months in full compliance with the practice adopted in the majority of EU Member States, while, at the same time, their freedom of movement is not disproportionately compromised, since the status does not imply continuous physical presence obligations.
2. Application for e-Residence Permit
When an applicant approaches the Concessionaire (CONC), Accredited Person (AP) or an Approved Agent (AA), Tier 1 due diligence checks must be conducted on a Know Your Customer (KYC) level in line with the Financial Services industry’s best practice.
Initial background checks, including open source and risk management database searches on the Main Applicants and any other dependents who are 18 years of age and over, must be conducted. If no adverse information is found, the prospective applicant may be accepted by the CONC, AP or AA and the e-Residence application process is initiated.
Depending on an individual’s current citizenship, a different set of forms should be completed. Individuals who are Nationals of an EU Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland the below forms must be completed:
- CEA Form J – Economic Self Sufficiency;
- Form ID 1A – Electronic Identity Registration Form (Non-Maltese Nationals);
- Form ID 2 – Image Capture Application Form and photos for dependents under the age of 12; and
- European Union Electoral Register Form.
Individuals who are not Nationals of an EU Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland the below forms must be completed:
- CEA Form K – Economic Self-Sufficiency;
- Form ID 1A – Electronic Identity Registration Form (Non-Maltese Nationals); and
- Form ID 2 – Image Capture Application Form and photos for dependents under the age of 12.
A successful application results in the issuing of an e-residence card with biometric features to the applicant.
The process from receipt of the residency application pack by MIIPA to the issuance of the e-residency card takes a maximum of 10 working days. Applications may be submitted whilst the applicant is still away from Malta or when he/she subsequently visits Malta. However, it is important to point out that the e-residence permit will not be issued unless the applicant is present in Malta, in view of the fact that biometrics need to be captured.
An e-Residence Card for the purposes of the Malta Individual Investor Programme has a validity of eighteen months to ensure it covers the required period of an application. Upon expiry of an e-Residence card, applicants are required to repeat the process subject to a renewal fee of €200 per applicant.
Procedure to Acquire e-Residence Card
- CONC/AP/AA have to request applicants to complete CEA Form K “Application for an e-Residence Permit – Economic Self-Sufficient” prior to submission of application at the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) offices. They should also ensure that all supporting documentation is available for scrutiny.
- An MIIPA officer has to verify that CEA Form K is completed correctly, with all supporting documentation required, and also indicate that the application is related to IIP requirements.
- An MIIPA officer has to verify that CONC/AP/AA have filed Tier 1 Due Diligence report for the respective applicant, confirming that the Know Your Customer (KYC) process has been performed.
- An MIIPA officer has to verify the identity of the applicant against original identity document of the same
- An MIIPA officer has to verify bank receipts presented by CONC/AP/AA, confirming that a bank transfer of €5,000 in name of the main applicant and an application fee of €1,000 per dependent have been paid to Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency.
- An MIIPA officer has to capture biometric data of the applicant using biometric capture procedure.
- A Biometric data and a completed application form have to be transferred to the e-Residence Permit Application office for formal application opening.
- An MIIPA officer has to send an email to the Police Authorities requesting them to expedite due diligence enquiry for the applicant.
- The Police Authorities have to conduct a six-level due diligence exercise, including data verification against available databases, security services, Europol and Interpol amongst others.
- In case of approval, an MIIPA officer will issue thee-residence card to the applicant.
- Moreover, any applicant or dependant who requires a visa to enter the Schengen zone will have to go through the normal visa application procedures.
The above-mentioned procedures have to be applied to all dependents of the main applicant.
The following applications and supporting documents must be presented when completing the e-Residence Application:
|CEA Form K or CEA Form J||Original|
|Electronic Identity Registration Form for Non-Maltese Nationals: Form ID 1A||Original|
|Image Capture Application Form: Form ID2||Dependents under the age of 12 need to submit an original form together with a photo of the same applicant|
|European Union Electoral Register Form||Original|
|International Passport||Certified True Copy|
|Global Health Insurance||Original or Certified True Copy|
|Bank Statement||Original or Certified True Copy|
|Property Lease of Purchase Agreement||Original or Certified True Copy|
|Introduction Letter||Original copy signed by the main applicant|
|Tier 1 Due Diligence Checks (Covering Letter signed and stamped by the CONC/AP/AA confirming that Tier 1 DD checks together with any other additional background checks conducted)||Original Letter & Certified true copies of supporting documents|
Once all applicable forms and supporting documents are completed, and Tier 1 Due Diligence check conducted, the CONC/AP/AA has to request a meeting between MIIPA officers and the prospective applicant at the MIIPA offices. Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency advises the applicants to submit all application forms and supporting documentation at least one week prior to when prospective applicants will attend the meeting at the MIIPA offices. This will ensure that potential issues are addressed accordingly during the meeting.
To apply for the naturalisation of a citizen of Malta under the Malta Citizenship Act, Cap 188 and subsidiary legislation thereof, the applicant must fill in and submit these forms:
- IIP Application Form N for the main applicant;
- IIP Application Form O for Spouse and Adult Dependents aged 18-26 and parents or grandparents over the age of 55 of the Main Applicant of the Spouse; and
- IIP Application Form P to be submitted by the parent/legal guardian on behalf of a Dependent Child under 18 years of age.
Each of the above applications must be original and all forms have to be completed in full or marked N/A if not applicable. All declarations have to be clearly marked and each page of the form must be initialled by the applicant and the Commissioner for Oaths.
Furthermore, the below Administrative Forms must also be completed:
- IIP Form PDFEE – Personal Details, Family Information, Education and Employment. This form is required for every applicant.
- IIP Form SSFW – Statement of Source of Funds and Wealth. This form is required for the Main Applicant or the Benefactor is applicable.
- IIP Form PSC – Photograph and Signature Certification. This form is required for every applicant.
- IIP Form MRQ – Medical Report and Questionnaire. This form is required for every applicant.
Each of the above applications must be original.
When a supporting document (e.g. certification of true copy by non-Malta based lawyers/notaries) requires authentication, one of the following three options must be followed:
- Provide an apostille in accordance with the provision of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents in the case of a jurisdiction that is a party to that Convention;
- Provide a validation of the certificate of the lawyer or notary public by the appropriate Government department in the case of jurisdiction that is not a party to that Convention; or
- Provide a validation of the certificate by a Maltese consular or diplomatic representation in the case of a jurisdiction that is not a part of that Convention.
All documents must be original and any documents that are not in English (including certification or stamps) must be accompanied by an official translation into English. Translations must be prepared by a professional translator, a government agency, an international organisation or a similar official institution.
If an affidavit is required, this should be prepared in a clear and professional manner. It is essential that the affidavit should be witnessed by a legal professional empowered to do so within the jurisdiction in which the affidavit is being taken.
All supporting documents such as international passports, identity cards or jurisdictional equivalent, residence permit, e-residence card issued by Maltese Authorities, military records, birth certificates, change of name documents, marriage and divorce certificates, documentary evidence of residential address, evidence of business ownership, evidence of employment for main applicant and suitable evidence of dependency for all dependents, a certified true copy will suffice. On the other hand, the police conduct or police certificate must be in original format.
3. Submit the Citizenship Application
Once the residency card has been issued, agents are able to submit the citizenship application. Upon receiving the three (3) separate packs for the IIP unit, the Public Registry and the Passports office, a formal receipt together with the PRV is issued. The Payment Receipt Voucher (PRV) covers the remainder of the non-refundable deposit, due diligence fees, passport fees and bank charges.
It is essential that at this stage the original, apostilled documents such as Acts of Birth and Marriage/Civil Union, are submitted separately to the Foreign Registrations Office at the Public Registry as a separate pack denoting the unique application reference number. This allows the Public Registry Unit to review and report any issues back to the Agent.
4. PRV Payment
Once the PRV is paid, MIIPA continues through the different stages of the Due Diligence (DD) process, including; the commissioning of EDD reports from two separate specialised service providers and a 2nd police clearance.
If an application is approved in principle by the board, this is formalised through a recommendation for Ministerial approval. Once Ministerial approval is given, further risk management database checks are undertaken.
In parallel, the public registry and the passports office would have been undergoing an analysis of respective forms and supporting documentation that would have been submitted.
5. Letter of Approval in Principle
The 120-day period timeline, which starts with the payment of the PRV and concludes with MIIPA issuing the letter of approval in principle.
If the application is cleared up to this stage of the process, a letter of approval in principle is issued together with the CRV. If the application is rejected, the residency card is deprived within 1 month.
6. Global Health Insurance
Once the letter of approval in principle is issued by MIIPA, applicants must provide evidence that they are covered by a global health insurance policy (may exclude the USA and Canada) and that they are in a position to retain such a policy indefinitely. The said policy should provide, as a minimum, a medical expense cover of €50,000 per person and may be the same policy used during the residency stage.
7. Documented Evidence
Documented evidence that all citizenship requirements have been met must be presented at this stage, including:
- Minimum of 12-months of holding the effective residency status;
- Copy of the lease or purchase agreement for property together with a declaration from the MA that he/she will keep the property for a minimum period of 5 years from the date of issue of the letter of approval in principle together with a valuation report;
- Certificate of purchase of a minimum of €150,000 in stocks, bonds, debentures and/or special purpose vehicles;
- Thes contribution of €650,000 towards the National Development and Social Fund;
Furthermore, the applicants must provide documented evidence that any personal, commercial or financial ties to the country that the applicant has opted to commit to in their residency proposal letter have been, or are currently being honoured.
8. Letter of Invitation
Once the above-mentioned documentation has been reviewed and checked, MIIPA will issue a letter of invitation so that a suitable appointment for the applicant and his/her dependents can be arranged in order to take the Oath of Allegiance
9. Police Clearance
Once all the required documentation has been provided, MIIPA commission a 3rd police clearance. If no adverse results are returned and all the documentation is correct and complete, MIIPA issues an invitation for the Oath of Allegiance.
The MA and any dependants aged 18 or over must visit Malta in order to take the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath of Allegiance is taken at the MIIPA offices.
Immediately, following the Oath of Allegiance, a fresh set of biometric data is taken for each applicant and the documents are verified in preparation for the issuing of the Passports. Once the passports are issued, applicants will have to collect them in person from the Passports’ office.
10. Oath of Allegiance
After the Oath of allegiance has been taken, MIIPA will issue the certificate of naturalisation. MIIPA will continuously monitor and ensure that the applicants continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria for the IIP for 5 years from this date.
The applicant is now officially a Maltese Citizen.
11. Issuance of Maltese ID Cards & Maltese Passports
The final stage of the process; the applicants are issued with Maltese ID cards and Maltese Passports.
Once the status of citizenship is acquired, residency issues with respect to the programme cease to exist altogether, to ensure compliance with EU law and human rights obligations. Despite this, residency may be important for other aspects, such as taxation and voting rights.