Earlier this week, the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) formally notified accredited agents that Malta is approaching the self-imposed 1,800 applications capping of the programme and as a result of this, the programme as it is known today, will only be available to applicants until 30th September 2020.
We emphasize "as it is known today", as there is no question in anyone's mind that the programme, in some form or another, is going to be renewed. This was stated by the Parliamentary Secretary for citizenship and communities Alex Muscat earlier this year, and confirmed on numerous occasions by Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela, who has always been unequivocal in saying the programme was a valuable source of income (amounting to ?270 million last year alone) and would be retained.
And if there was any doubt about the Prime Minister's position on the matter, these were certainly dispelled during the various press conferences delivered during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he repeatedly referred to this programme as one of the reasons why the government's wage and other supplements were at all possible during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although nothing official has been issued in relation to the new citizenship by investment programme, many in the industry are expecting that:
- The property thresholds outlined in the current programme (which was launched in 2013 and based on market prices at the time) will be revised, and the value of the property to be acquired or rented in fulfillment of one the programme's many requirements, will be higher than is currently the case. Under the current programme, applicants must either acquire a residential property worth at least ?350,000, or rent a residential property at an annual rent of at least ?16,000;
- There is a lot of speculation as to whether the contribution to the National Development and Social Fund and the investment which applicants are expected to make, over and above purchase or rental of residential property, will also be revised to make the programme even less accessible, in terms of the financial resources required, than it already is;
- There has already been some clear indications that the commitment to stringent background checks on applicants and accredited agents will continue and will be strengthened, especially in regard to accredited agents.
- MIIPA will continue accepting applications for citizenship under the Malta Individual Investor Programme until 30th September 2020.
- Meanwhile, complete applications for residency will continue to be accepted until 31st July 2020.
Consequently, individuals who obtain a residence card but do not submit a citizenship application by 30th September 2020 may very well be caught under the new programme, and may be facing a set of completely new, and possibly much more expensive set of requirements in order to qualify for citizenship by investment.
Originally published 05 Jun 2020
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