The Maltese Government recently introduced the concept of Citizenship by Merit by means of Legal Notice 335 of 2017. This allows persons possessing exceptional talents to acquire Maltese Citizenship through naturalisation. The aim of the Maltese Government is to attract extraordinary talent mainly in the fields of science, research, sports, art and culture. This new piece of legislation uses the term ‘exceptional’ to describe persons that have contributed to the Maltese community in an unparalleled way or are aiming to do so.
The main aim is to attract talent and innovation to Malta by giving a formal recognition to such achievements or the potential for achievements. The scheme is also open to persons that have contributed to innovation and advancement to humanity and are hence recognised at a global and local level. The scheme is expected to retain such talent in Malta and help to contribute in areas that lack local talent.
The main requirements for this programme are the following:
- Reside in Malta for a minimum period of eight months prior to the date of application.
- Rent or buy property in Malta.
- Provide proof of the exceptional services rendered to Malta or at a global level.
- Possess a clean police conduct.
Each application must be endorsed by a competent body that is able to state that the applicant is of ‘exceptional’ talent. The competent bodies vary depending on the specific field and these consist of: The National Sports Association; The Malta Arts Council; The University of Malta; and the Malta Council for Science and Technology.
Each application shall be vetted by Identity Malta and a dedicated board of experts which has been recently set up. The board will evaluate each application and thereafter refer the applications to the Minster, who shall have discretion with respect to whether or not to grant final approval.
The application process is expected to take approximately one year. During this period, the applicant may be asked to attend an interview with the board to clarify issues, should this be deemed necessary by the board.