Is there a surefire way for an accomplished businessperson to guard themself against political and economic risks happening in their home country? A rather simple answer exists: apply for another country’s residence permit. Several European countries have smart, well-developed and perfectly legal programs that allow foreigners to become residents and citizens through investment in their economies.
Malta’s Residence and Visa Program has always been popular among those interested in securing their businesses, assets and, indeed, their quality of life. Not only does the applicant get a great contingency plan, but also the coveted access to visa-free travel across the Schengen area. Moreover, they invest in the kind of asset whose value is constantly on the rise.
In the Q2 2017 Knight Frank Global House Price Index that includes countries with the highest annual price growth rate, Malta sits in the third place among ten other countries with its 14.6% growth.
In the WorldFirst rating, that takes into account countries with best return rate from buy-to-let real estate, Malta ranks second with its 6.6% of average annual yield.
Malta’s Residence and Visa program was established in August 2015. By following its guidelines and investing in bonds or real estate, the applicant obtains a status of a permanent resident of Malta.
The program has shown excellent results. Every year, foreign investors spend millions of euros on Maltese property. As the data on Property Showrooms portal shows, foreigners are especially interested in elite villas.
Malta is offering a rapid way of becoming a permanent resident. The time between submitting the required papers and the status acquisition is around 2 or 3 months. The Cyprus permanent residence program has a similar timeline, while in Portugal, in contrast, it’s only possible to become a permanent resident after holding a valid temporary Portugal resident title for 5 years.
Currently, Malta has three government-approved programs that allow non-resident investors to obtain either a temporary or permanent residence permit, or citizenship. The applicant may include family members in their application.
The non-investment way of obtaining Malta’s passport is much more lengthy, as it takes between 6 or 7 years after getting a temporary resident status to get a permanent residence permit, and another 5-7 years to become a citizen. In total, the non-investment way to citizenship takes at least 10 years.
We can name at least seven firm reasons to apply for the Malta Residence and Visa program.
In July 2017, certain changes came into force in the Maltese Residence and Visa Program, which made it even more desirable to foreign investors.
First of all, the timeline of having to wait for an answer has shrunk considerably. Today, the entity that is responsible for reviewing the applications is Malta Residence and Visa Agency. Having an entire agency process the applications means an easier and quicker experience for the applicants.
Secondly, the size of required payments has changed, too. Today, an investor is expected to deposit €5,000 for a parent or a spouse to be included in the application. That is, an applicant deposits €5,000 before the application is reviewed, and the outstanding €25,000 after the review is completed. Earlier, the order of making the payments for dependent family members was the same, but the sum of first deposit was €5,500, and €24,500 for the second one. The government contribution sum remains unchanged at €30,000.
Financially dependent family members may now be included in the applications after the principal applicant gets his candidacy approved.
Next, options for family members have been altered favourably as well. Today, a newborn or adopted child may be also included in the application. This, of course, is especially convenient in terms of not having to dedicate time or efforts to visa acquisition and family travels. Moreover, the age of dependent children is now not subject to any limitations, as opposed to being limited to 27 years earlier.
Applicants no longer have to submit a clear police record obtained from the Maltese police.
Foreign nationals who have invested in the Maltese economy are granted the permanent residence permit may stay in the country indefinitely. Previously, the permit holders had the right to stay in the country for no longer than 6 consecutive months, or for 10 months cumulatively within the period of 4 years. They also may choose not to stay there at all.
This year, the willingness of the Maltese government to get rid of some red-tape procedures has proved their dedication to attracting foreign funds and investors of outstanding character into the country. The conditions of the program are becoming increasingly less complicated while the range of rights granted to the investors is expanding. All this allows Malta to successfully compete with other countries for the investors’ attention and resources.
How much a foreign investor is expected to spend?
According to the Knight Frank’s rating of countries with the highest annual price growth rate, Malta is third among ten leaders. In a year’s time, real estate prices have grown here by almost 15%, losing out only to Israel’s 23% and Hong Kong’s 21%. Real estate market experts say the residence-through-investment programs for foreign nationals is helping this boost.
This island nation is also among the leaders of countries with best return rate from buy-to-let real estate with its 6.6% of average annual yield.
The trend of rising prices is notable both in the residential and commercial real estate markets.
Meanwhile, the number of building permits granted to Malta’s developers has also grown – which could, within the next couple of years, slow down the tendency of price growth due to an increase in supply.
To obtain the status of Malta’s resident, an applicant is expected to complete the following steps:
Step One. Conclude a contract with a specialised law firm, make an advanced payment.
Step Two. Submit the documents, undergo the due diligence check.
Step Three. Fulfil the principal requirements of the program, that is, make the investment.
Step Four. Submit biometrics, obtain the status of a resident.
Step Five. Return the investment.
An applicant risks rejection in the following cases:
The Maltese government is taking tangible actions to hone Malta’s temporary and permanent residence (the Global Residence Program, and Residence and Visa Program, respectively), and citizenship through investment programs. The conditions are becoming more and more simple, Malta is strengthening her position in global ratings. All of this attracts an increasing number of foreign investors.