The Malta Residence and Visa Programme (the “Programme”) Regulations introduced in 2015, have recently been amended by virtue of Legal Notice 189 of 2017 as published in the Government Gazette of Malta on 4 July 2017. These amended regulations, which are already legally effective, have simplified and improved the Programme by making it more attractive to foreign applicants and their eligible dependents to obtain and retain their residence and visa permits in Malta. This article summarises the three main amendments introduced by the 2017 regulations.
The most significant amendment effected to the principal regulations introduced in 2015 is to the definition of the term ‘dependant’. In accordance with the 2015 regulations, any adult dependant of the main applicant or of his / her spouse, who was unmarried, economically dependent on the main applicant and 26 years or younger could benefit from the Programme until the dependant would turn 27. The revised regulations have removed such age restriction. This now means that any adult dependent of the main applicant or of his / her spouse, who is unmarried and economically dependent on the main applicant can be included as a dependant of the main applicant for the purposes of the Programme irrespective of the age, and he / she would not lose Malta residency and visa rights upon turning 27. In addition, should the adult dependant get married at a later stage, the main applicant would have the right to include the spouse of the adult dependant and his / her children on the Main Beneficiary Certificate against a non-refundable administration fee of EUR 5,000 per additional person.
Another significant amendment is the removal of the restriction to reside in Malta for an indefinite period. Under the 2015 regulations, any beneficiary of the Programme would have ceased to benefit from the Programme if he / she would have become or applied to become, a long-term resident of Malta as defined by the Status of Long-Term Residents (Third Country Nationals) Regulations . Any third country national who resides legally and continuously in Malta for a period of five years would be deemed as being a long-term resident in Malta. Thus, in order to interrupt this five year period, any beneficiary of the Programme had to spend outside of Malta at least 6 consecutive months, or 10 months in aggregate in a five-year period. The 2017 regulations have removed this restriction, which means that the main beneficiary and the eligible dependants can now reside in Malta for an indefinite period.
The third main amendment introduced by the 2017 regulations is the eligibility of parents or grandparents of the main applicant and / or the spouse to be included as dependants at application stage. However this is subject to an additional contribution of EUR 5,000 per parent or grandparent which will have to be paid to the competent authority in Malta. The contribution of the main applicant has remained unchanged at EUR 30,000, which also covers the spouse and children.
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