Until recently, under Maltese law, there were three ways to acquire Malta citizenship and Maltese passports, namely:
- • By birth people born in or outside Malta need to satisfy certain criteria for them to be eligible for Malta citizenship, depending mainly on their date of birth;
- • By registration> spouses of a Malta citizen after five years of marriage, widow/widower of a Malta citizen, children born abroad to Maltese mothers prior to 01/08/1989 and persons who are of second and subsequent generations born abroad of Maltese descent (two ancestors born in Malta) are all eligible for Maltese citizenship; and
- • By naturalization> citizenship by naturalization is normally considered favourably if one is a former Maltese citizen; one is born abroad to Maltese parents who are returned migrants; one is born in Malta, holds a foreign citizenship and at least one parent is a Maltese citizen; one is born to parents who were non-Maltese but one of whom or both subsequently acquired Maltese citizenship, and if one is born abroad and is of Maltese descent. Foreigners married to a Maltese citizen can apply for citizenship after 5 years of marriage. Foreigners with no marriage ties to a Maltese citizen, but who have obtained residency, can apply for citizenship as well; however such applications will only be considered after 15 or 20 years on a case by case basis.
In addition to the above, new regulations have recently come into force, by virtue of Legal Notice 437 of 2020, entitled the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment regulations. These regulations allow for the granting of citizenship to duly qualified, reputable foreign individuals and families who make a significant contribution to the economic development of Malta. Successful candidates are granted citizenship through a certificate of naturalisation, which can also be extended to include their dependents. The Maltese authorities carry out strict due diligence and vetting of applicants, thus ensuring only highly respectable clients will be admitted.
- • Applicants must make an exceptional direct investment of €600,000 and reside in Maltafor a minimum of 3 years before applying for citizenship; OR
- •Applicants may alternatively make an exceptional direct investment of €750,000 and residein Malta for 1 year before applying for citizenship.
In both cases the investment is effected only if the Citizenship application is approved by the Minister.
- • Applicants must purchase a property for a minimum value of €700,000 or lease a property for at least €16,000 per annum which must be retained for a period of at least 5 years from date of the certificate of naturalisation.
- • Moreover, the applicant is required to make a philanthropic donation of €10,000 to a local registered and compliant NGO.
Up to 400 citizenship applications are to be approved per year, capped at a maximum of 1,500 successful applicants.
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