Malta delays its plan to introduce citizenship program for wealthy individuals
The Mediterranean island of Malta announced on 19th November 2013 that it will delay its plans to introduce a new citizenship program which will allow high net worth individuals to settle in the country by making an investment and receiving a passport in exchange. Malta is a part of the European Union and its citizens can freely work and travel in all EU countries. The Government has previously announced that it intends to start the citizenship program on 20 November 2013. Foreigners will have to make an investment of at least 650 000 EUR in order to receive the citizenship. Furthermore they need to be above 18 year old and have clean criminal record. The visas will be issued within three months after the application is deemed as successful by the immigration officials. One particularly attractive aspect of the proposed citizenship scheme is that the applicant would not have to spend any time in Malta before being granted Maltese nationality. On 19th November, the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, however said that the scheme will not be introduced any time soon. The reason for this is that the opposition in Malta is against the scheme in its current form. The two sides have entered in negotiations in order to reach an agreement about the future of the program. The opposition objected to the fact that, under the original scheme, the names of those awarded passports would not be made public. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said that such secrecy would be likely to damage Malta’s reputation. Malta expects that 200 to 300 foreigners will receive citizenship every year. This will bring between 120 and 160 million euro for the Maltese government which similarly to many other European governments is very short on cash at the moment.