Malta has been one of the great success stories of the investment migration industry. The EU member state’s decision to launch not only a residence-by-investment but also a citizenship-by-investment programme a few years ago is widely being seen as the industry’s biggest leap forward, which until then revolved very much around citizenship programmes offered by Caribbean island nations and the long-established visa programmes of countries such as the US, UK and Australia. Malta’s programmes both proved tremendously successful: The island’s international outlook, its fast-growing economy, combined with a lifestyle that comes with the Mediterranean environment, are attracting applications from high-net- worth investors and entrepreneurs from around the world, who are seeking easier travel options, safe residency locations and access to better education, healthcare and lifestyle opportunities.
Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (IIP) offers foreign nationals the possibility to obtain Maltese citizenship, whereby a Maltese passport offers visa-free access to some 170 countries. The Malta Residency and Visa Programme (MRVP) grants international investors residency in Malta and a visa by which they can access the Schengen area. Applicants for both programmes are thoroughly assessed and screened, and they are required to fulfil a number of conditions, which include investing in government bonds, purchasing or renting property of a certain value, and in the case of the IIP investing €650,000 in the National Economic and Social Development Fund, Malta’s sovereign wealth fund. Thus far, 900 applicants received Maltese citizenship. The MRVP is equally successful and has attracted over 1,500 applications since its introduction in 2015. The MRVP proved particularly attractive to applicants whose home country does not allow second citizenship, and most applicants hail from China, but the island is also seeing interest from other parts of the world such as Middle East, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and India.
Transparency and Good Governance
Globally, the investment migration is facing significant headwinds, with international organisations, policy-makers and the media viewing the industry with a critical eye. Malta is aware that investment migration is a very complex and sensitive matter. The Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency and the Malta Residency and Visa Agency follow a rigorous four step screening process for applicants, which goes well beyond a simple investigation on the source of funds and wealth but obtains as much information as possible from numerous sources. Malta is also one of the few countries that have established an independent regulator to oversee the programme’s operation and that publishes the names of new citizens.
So Much More
Malta’s Individual Investor Programme in its current form has been capped at 1,800 applicants, but the Maltese government has already announced its intention to extend the programme. However, it is considering more stringent criteria. As an investment migration location, one of Malta’s primary attractions is that it provides access to the European Union, however, Malta offers much more. The country’s economy has been one of the best performing in Europe, offering interesting investment opportunities across a range of sectors. Plus, a country full of history, passionate people, excellent weather and crystal-clear seas, Malta is a place that expats like to call home.