Status and rights of family members


Country Report: Status and rights of family members Last updated: 21/09/23

As soon as the application for family reunification has been accepted, family members will be authorised to enter Malta once they are granted a visa.

In practice, problems in issuing documentation may arise in countries with no Maltese embassies. This leads to scenarios where applicants must travel to another country in order to apply for the visa at the Maltese representation. Family members must then stay in this country until the visa is issued, inducing further costs for the family.

The Family Reunification Regulations provide that family members shall be granted a first residence permit of at least one year’s duration and shall be renewable.[1]

Since 2016, reunited family members are, in practice, granted a residence permit of three years, indicating “Dependant family member”.[2]

The family members of the sponsor have access, in the same way as the sponsor, to education, employment, and self-employed activity. While a refugee has access to employment and self-employment without the need for an assessment of the situation of the labour market, said family members are subject to such assessment for the first 12 months following their arrival. They also have access to vocational guidance, initial and further training, and retraining.[3]

Family members coming to Malta are barred from applying for international protection in their own name.

NGOs have reported that there are instances whereby a beneficiary of international protection in Malta has a child after being granted protection by the IPA. In these cases, the IPA does not issue a protection certificate for that child, but issues a letter stating that that child is a family member of a protection beneficiary.

This would result in the child having a different status noted on the residence card to his or her parents and siblings born before arrival to Malta. This is also the case when one of the applicants in a family unit is granted a different status to that of his or her spouse, either due to an appeal or different times of application or arrival. The result is that in a family unit there could be members who have different statuses, as the IPA does not grant protection to the family as a unit but on an individual basis.

Furthermore, NGOs reported that children who are granted protection as a family member of a protection beneficiary, lose that protection on reaching majority. That person would then have to apply to the IPA for protection as an independent adult. According to NGOs, this exposes them to a risk of becoming undocumented, as the nexus to their parent’s claim may have become weaker with the passing of time between arrival in Malta and becoming an adult.[4]




[1] Regulation 14(2) of the Family Reunification Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 217.06 of the Laws of Malta.

[2] Information provided by Mr Ryan Spagnol, Director of Identity Malta, 29 September 2016.

[3] Regulation 15 of the Family Reunification Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 217.06 of the Laws of Malta.

[4] Aditus foundation, Documentation = Employability: Support Services for the Documentation of Various Communities, August 2022, available at

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