Malta citizenship now available for €880,000
The citizenship-by-investment programme of Malta has been amended and is open for application. For a minimum investment of €880,000 (Dh4,471,480) the Maltese citizenship is now available.
The concept of granting Maltesese citizenship to high-net worth people in return for their contribution to the Maltese economy was introduced end-2013, when the Maltese government announced the Individual Investor Programme, to be made available in a matter of weeks.
However, criticism towards the low barrier requirements of eligibility caused the delay of its implementation, with some claiming that the programme would not be realised at all. Nevertheless, the government amended the requirements and presented what is already being called one of the most interesting economic citizenship programmes of the region.
What is the new deal?
The basic requirements of the programme are two-fold; the applicant is required to make a financial contribution to the country, and hold a Maltese resident status for a period of 12 months.
The financial contribution in its part is three-fold, explains Yann Mzarek, Managing Partner of the Law Firm M / Advocates of Law. A one-time lump sum contribution of €650,000 to the Maltese government must be made. The lump sum corresponds to the single requirement under the initial proposal.
In addition, an investment in bonds or shares in Malta of at least €150,000 must be made, and these bonds or shares must be kept for at least five years. The investment must be sanctioned by the Maltese government.
Finally, a property rental contract of at least €16,000 per year for a five-year period must be signed, or an investment in property of at least €350,000 must be made.
The residency status in not as complicated as it seems, points out Yann. “This status can be obtained when signing a tenancy contract, and does not require the physical presence of the applicant.”
With this last fact, the programme becomes interesting, he states. “The popularity of an economic citizenship does not only lie in the costs of the citizenship, but also in the amount of time required to be spent in a country.”
Fast track option
Furthermore, the applicant can reduce the waiting time if they take the right steps at the right time, he adds. “There may not be a fast-track option, but the actual waiting time does not have to be 12 months.”
The entire procedure of application for the Maltese citizenship takes 15-18 months to complete. This procedure entails the initial submission, the screening of the applicant by the Maltese government, the submission of the plan of undertaking, and the carrying out of the investment, he explains.
“However, the citizenship status can be obtained 12 months after obtaining the residency status, and therefore it is wise to acquire residency right from the beginning. Once the procedure has been completed, the applicant will only need to wait for a few more months.”
Although the programme is not the least costly, the requirements are considered to be relatively easy in return for much anticipated benefits. For one, the Maltese passport holder –as well as residency status holder- is permitted visa-free travel to more than 100 countries, and free access to all Schengen countries, says Yann. A Maltese citizen has the right to live and work in any other EU member state.
Furthermore, the successful applicant will be able to grant citizenship to spouse for the financial contribution of €25,000, while dependent children and parents may obtain citizenship for the financial contribution of €50,000.
Finally, residents of Malta who are not domiciled in Malta are taxable on a remittance basis only, and no wealth, inheritance, or gift tax exist.
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