Changes to Malta Residence and Visa Programme boosts accessibility for foreign investors

Several amendments to Malta’s Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP) recently came into effect through the announcement of Legal Notice 189. This is the first update to the regulations of the visa programme that was first introduced in 2015.

The three main changes to the MRVP that are already in effect are as follows:

Adults of any age that are unmarried and financially dependent on the main applicant are now eligible to be considered a dependant of the main applicant for residency purposes.

Previously, only children up to the age of 26 could benefit from residency as a dependant. Even if they were 26 or younger at the time of application, the residency rights of dependant children were revoked once they turned 27. Now, there is no age limit for adult dependants. The main applicant can even choose to include any future spouse and/or children of an adult dependant on their visa, for a €5,000 fee per person.

There is no longer any obligatory requirement for the main applicant and any dependants to reside outside Malta for a continuous six months, or for 10 non-consecutive months within a five-year period.

The MRVP originally stated that anybody who is considered a long-term resident of Malta cannot receive the benefits of the programme. A foreign national who has resided in Malta for a continuous period of five years is considered a long-term resident. The only way to avoid this is to either reside outside Malta for at least six months in a row, or ten months in total within this five-year period. With the recent visa changes, applicants and their dependants are no longer required to leave Malta for any amount of time.

The parents and grandparents of either the main applicant or his/her spouse are now eligible to be included in the visa application.

For a non-refundable fee of €5,000 per person payable at the time of application, parents and grandparents can join the main applicant and/or his or her spouse in Malta as dependants.

Though these are minor amendments and do not alter the way the programme fundamentally works, it is hoped that a greater number of foreign investors will be attracted to Malta. Allowing more of the main applicants’ family members to reside in Malta makes the programme much more accessible.

However, under this programme there is still no option for investors and their family members to eventually become citizens of Malta, and dependants are not permitted to work with this visa. Other golden visa or citizenship by investment programmes are more appropriate for this purpose.

Despite this, the Malta Residence and Visa Programme remains one of the best and most popular residency programmes in Europe. With a five-year investment in government bonds worth €250,000, a property lease worth €12,000 per year and a one-time contribution of €30,000, investors and their families can reside indefinitely in Malta and travel visa-free within the Schengen area.