New regulations for acquiring residency and eventually Maltese citizenship have officially been published, with the government saying that the new regulations keep in midn the recommendations given by the European Commission.
A new agency called Komunità Malta to administer material related to the country’s citizenship and to take the place of the previous agency has also been set up, the Ministry said.
Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat noted how the citizenship scheme has led to investment in the country’s facilities such as in social accomodation and the improvement of health centres.
“That’s why we wanted to see this initiative not stop, but strengthen and continue to bear fruit and wealth for the development of the country’s communities”, Muscat said.
Similar to what was said in a briefing on Thursday, Muscat said that Malta is not ready to give up its right to discretion on who can be a citizen and who cannot.
Under the new rules, applicants cannot apply for citizenship immediately after obtaining legal residence in Malta. They will only be allowed to apply after a period of three years since obtaining residency status in Malta has elapsed. In the case of a higher investment, the applicant can apply after a year.
The applicant will be obliged to go through a “rigorous due diligence exercise” before being eligible to apply for Maltese citizenship. This is a new step introduced so that the agency has enough time to carry out the necessary investigations, which will include controls on the sources of wealth, controls on individual funds, studies on risks related to money laundering, and investigations into security-related concerns.
Risk assessments on each application will be carried out, and the agency will ensure that the source of funds of the applicant is legitimate. The new regulations also eliminate the limit on the time in which the due diligence muts be carried out.
The due diligence must be done on all adult members of the family in the application.
The number of successful applicants is limited to 1,500, with no more than 400 every year.
The Agency will have an obligation to keep monitoring applicants for the first five years after they are granted citizenship.
The clause which enabled the minister to grant citizenship to individuals who do not meet the basic legal criteria will be removed.
The statement concludes that Malta’s response, in the form of a formal letter, will be sent to the European Commission soon.
“As already said, it is the government’s intention to use all legal measures necessarily to defend the country’s national interest and sovereignty”, the statement concludes.