Asylum seekers are entitled to access the labour market, without limitations on the nature of employment they may seek. In terms of the Reception Regulations this access should be granted no later than 9 months following the lodging of the asylum application, Malta issues ‘employment licences’ for asylum seekers, the duration of which varies from 3 months for asylum seekers whose application is initially rejected to 6 months for those whose application is still pending. Fees are payable for new licences and for every renewal.
In practice, employers are deterred from applying for the permits because of their short-term nature and the administrative burden associated with the application.1
Asylum seekers who are not detained face a number of difficulties, namely: language obstacles, limited or no academic or professional background, intense competition with refugees and other migrants, limited or seasonal employment opportunities. Asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse; issues highlighted include low wages, unpaid wages, long working hours, irregular work, unsafe working conditions and employment in the shadow economy.2
A number of vocational training courses are available to asylum seekers, yet not specifically organised for them. Eligibility conditions vary between courses and generally reflect eligibility criteria for Maltese nationals.