TOP

News

EU Citizenship For Sale Via Malta

26/03/2015
The European Commission has confirmed that Malta has the right to run a scheme granting citizenship to individuals who participate in the country

The European Commission has confirmed that Malta has the right to run a scheme granting citizenship to individuals who participate in the country's new Malta Individual Investor Program.

According to an EU spokesperson, EU member states "have full sovereignty" when it comes to granting nationality, which in turn gives the right of residency across the European Union.

Applicants have to be approved by a due diligence regime, for which there is a fee of EUR7,500, and make a contribution to Malta's National Development Fund of at least EUR650,000. A contribution of EUR25,000 is required by family members, as well as a due diligence fee of EUR5,000 (reduced to EUR3,000 for minors aged between 13 and 18). Participants' names are not made public.

However, opposition politicians argue that the move is damaging to Malta's reputation, and Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has vowed to rescind passports acquired through the scheme should his party return to power.

EU citizenship is also available via Cyprus, although the investment required there is EUR2.5m.

Along with several other EU countries, Malta and Cyprus also offer residency programs for investors. Malta's Global Residence Program provides residency for those who purchase property worth a minimum of between EUR220,000 and EUR275,000, depending on location, or who pay a certain minimum amount in annual rent, while Cyprus offers residency to those who purchase property for EUR300,000 or more. Meanwhile, Spain and Portugal have recently introduced "Golden Visa" residency schemes for those who are willing to spend at least EUR500,000 on property.

Residency in these countries allows free movement within the Schengen Area, which includes most of the European Economic Area.

Continuous residence followed by indefinite leave to remain is also available in the UK for those who bring GBP1m into the country.

Outside the EU, Australia introduced a Significant Investor visa a year ago, providing a pathway to permanent residence for individuals who invest AUD5m in certain areas.