Citizenship by Merit – A new initiative for Maltese Citizenship

MEDIA ROOM

On the 28th of January 2017, the Maltese Government has launched a public consultation process on a new initiative for granting Maltese citizenship based on merit.

The Citizenship on Merit Initiative (the “Initiative”) is intended to grant foreign individuals, European and third country nationals alike, who have rendered an exceptional service to the country or to humanity or whose naturalisation is of exceptional interest to Malta. The Initiative is intended to cover five diverse sectors which are of current particular interest to the Maltese islands, which are art, culture, science, research and sport. This Initiative envisions to address both past and future performances in these sectors.

Various European and Third Countries have already included the possibility of granting citizenship to deserving individuals, whose acquisition of citizenship adds prestige to these respective countries. The Maltese Government, through this Initiative, is proposing to follow on the footsteps of these foreign countries.

The White Paper pertaining to this Initiative proposes to enclose in-built protective mechanisms in order to ensure that only worthy individuals will qualify for Maltese citizenship through such process.

When applying for citizenship through this Initiative, an individual must have genuine links to Malta and is required to provide proof of his residency in Malta for at least 12 months prior to his/her application. Moreover, the individual must also provide proof of title to residential property in Malta.

Along with the above requirements, the individual will be obliged to provide proof of the exceptional services this individual has rendered to Malta or to humanity. Should the individual’s citizenship be based on future services or performances, such assertion must be officially endorsed by a designated competent body, such as Sport Malta, should the interest be in sport.

Under this Initiative, Identity Malta, the agency which will cater for such applications, will be obliged to perform a four tier due diligence check on the individual prior to ascertaining whether such application may be adhered to.

Each application received under this Initiative must also be evaluated by an Evaluation Board, composed by three qualified persons, which must prepare a reasoned opinion on each application which will in turn be referred to the Minister responsible for citizenship.

Any individual who obtains Maltese citizenship through this Initiative, will have his/her name published once on the Government Gazette, together with other individuals who have obtained Maltese citizenship through various other programmes.

Once the White Paper receives Parliament approval, the Maltese Citizenship Act will be amended and a Legal Notice providing further details to this Initiative will be issued by Parliament.