Criteria and conditions


Country Report: Criteria and conditions Last updated: 19/05/21


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Recognised refugees may apply for family reunification in Malta according to national legislation.[1] “Family members” include the refugee’s spouse and their unmarried minor children.

Only refugees may apply for family reunification, since the Regulations specify that subsidiary protection beneficiaries are excluded from this provision: “The sponsor shall not be entitled to apply for family reunification if he is authorised to reside in Malta on the basis of a subsidiary form of protection…”.[2] The exclusion of subsidiary protection beneficiaries from family reunification was raised as a major concern by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.[3] In 2016, the Immigration Appeals Board ordered the competent authorities to allow a beneficiary of subsidiary protection to reunite with his wife on the basis of his work contract (with a public entity), granting employees such a right. This case remains an exception.

In November 2018, JRS Malta, aditus foundation, and Integra foundation, supported by UNHCR Malta, published a report titled Family Unity: a fundamental right.[4] The report examines national law and policy on family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in light of European and human rights law, and concludes that current law and policy in Malta is highly questionable when set against these standards. The report highlights that the current blanket ban on family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection raises serious human rights concerns. The organisations urge the Government to review the existing legislative framework and to grant beneficiaries of subsidiary protection the right to be reunited with their families in Malta under the same conditions as refugees or, as a minimum, under the same conditions as refugees who married post-recognition.

Applications must be addressed to the Director for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs who has to give a written notification of the decision no later than nine months after the lodging of the application.

In order to be able to apply, applicants need to provide evidence of their relationship with family members, and they need to have an accommodation regarded as normal for a comparable family in Malta as well as a sickness insurance. Moreover, applicants are requested to prove stable and regular resources which are sufficient to maintain the sponsor and the members of the family without recourse to the social assistance system in Malta which would be equivalent to, at least, the average wage in Malta with an addition of another 20% income or resources for each member of the family.[5]

In practice, refugees are not requested to fulfil the material conditions if they apply within three months of obtaining their status. Refugees who are applying to be joined by family members in Malta are only required to present the refugee status certificate; official documents attesting the family relationship; full copies of the passports of the family members; and the lease agreement.

Refugees whose family relationship post-dates the grant of their status, or whose application for family reunification has not been submitted within a period of three months after the grant of said status, are required to present additional documents such as an attestation by an architect confirming that the applicant’s accommodation is regarded as normal for a comparable family in Malta and which meets the general health and safety standards of the country and a confirmation of stable and regular resources  which have not been obtained by virtue of recourse to the social assistance of Malta and which shall be deemed to be sufficient if they are equivalent to the national minimum wage in Malta.[6]


[1]Family Reunification Regulations, LN 150 of 2007, Immigration Act Cap 217, 2007, available at:

[2] Regulation 3 Family Reunification Regulations.

[3] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to the Minister for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement of Malta, CommHR/NM/sf 043-2017, 14 December 2017, available at:

[4] “Family unity: a fundamental right”, a Project Integrated 2018 Policy Paper on the right to family reunification or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, JRS Malta, aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, funded by UNHCR Malta, November 2018, available at:

[5] Regulation 12 Family Reunification Regulations.

[6]  Information provided by Identity Malta, 2017.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation