As published by IMI Daily, a leading hub for investment migration professionals, it was announced by the Residency Malta Agency that in the last six years, a total of 2,273 individuals have received permanent residence in Malta through the  Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP), previously known as the Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MVRP).

Under the MPRP, eligible individuals and their family members can be granted a permit to live in Malta for a period of five years. This permission can be renewed indefinitely and subject to specific criteria, investing in Malta and a one-off payment.

So far, the programme has been highly successful. In addition to the principal applicants, some 5,303 family members have also received permanent residence permits in Malta since 2016. Out of those granted the permit, 90% were Chinese nationals, followed by Vietnamese (2.9%), Russian (2.6%), South African (1%), and Turkish (1%). Other nationalities accounted for a combined total of 6% of all applicants.

But not all of those applying for the permit were so lucky. The Agency noted that out of all of those who applied, some 10% were rejected, and a further 3% voluntarily withdrew their applications. This was reportedly due to "questions posed to the applications by the agency" during the due diligence process.

Over the duration of the programme, the number of applicants has increased steadily, hitting a peak in 2020 with 988 applications. This has positioned the programme as Europe's second most popular and in-demand golden visa. The number of applications dropped somewhat in 2021 to around half, which still positions it as one of Europe's most applied for visas.

When asked what the fall in numbers could be attributed to, Charles Mizzi, CEO of Residency Malta Agency, told IMI Daily that it was due to the transition from the old MVRP to the new MPRP.

"Though it may not have looked strategic to have launched a new programme during COVID, for us, it was a culmination of a thorough analysis of propositions, markets, and competition," he said.

The number of applicants is expected to climb once again over the next 12 months as enough time has elapsed since the programme's relaunch. This, combined with significant interest, which has started growing once again at the end of 2021, means even higher application rates are expected in the future.

When the programme was first launched in 2016, there were teething issues with processing applications. This led to delays which were essentially caused by the programme's own success. As a response, the Agency has recruited more staff, trained employees, and dedicated more resources to dealing with applications in a bid to speed things up.

Current turnaround times for applicants stand at four to six months from the moment of submission. This, of course, depends on all documents being in order and presented as requested. The agency said the shortened waiting times are positive for applicants while not compromising on due diligence.

In addition to the MPRP, Malta has also announced a new  Nomad Residence Permit last June to respond to the demand for short-stay residence for those that work remotely. The permit lasts for one year and is designed for those who work from home, are not location dependent, and want to work from Malta in the short or medium term.

COVID was a catalyst for remote working, propelling it to be the new norm instead of an exception. The Agency has been quick to respond to this demand and rolled out the new programme, much to the appreciation of applicants.

In the works for the near future is a programme for third-country nationals who want to start a business in Malta and reside there. The Startup Residence Programme will entice entrepreneurs who wish to base themselves and their startups in Malta. This will not only keep business owners happy, but it will seek to attract more innovation to the island, thus strengthening its economy.

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