National legislation provides for the possibility for third-country nationals residing regularly in Malta to access long-term residence. The criteria are the same for all migrants: no special conditions are foreseen for beneficiaries of international protection.
To be able to apply for such permit, applicants must have to fulfil a long list of requirements:
- They first need to have resided legally and continuously in Malta for five years immediately prior to the submission of the application;
- Applicants are also requested to provide “evidence of stable and regular resources which have subsisted for a continuous period of two years immediately prior to the date of application and which are sufficient to maintain the applicant and his family without recourse to the social assistance system in Malta or to any benefits or assistance”. The law provides that these resources have to be equivalent to the national minimum wage with an addition of another twenty percent of the national minimum wage for each member of the family;
- An appropriate accommodation, regarded as normal for a comparable family in Malta, a valid travel document and a sickness insurance are also requested to be entitled to apply;
- In addition, Regulations require language (Maltese) and integration conditions, including courses of at least 100 hours about the social, economic, cultural, and democratic history and environment of Malta recognised by an examination pass mark. These courses are provided by the Human Rights and Integration Directorate, as part of the ‘I Belong’ integration programme.
The application for long-term residence has to be submitted in writing to the Director for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs. The law provides for a time limit of six months after an application is lodged to receive an answer. If the Director fails to give a decision within this period specified, the application shall automatically be passed on for appeal to the Immigration Appeals Board.
In practice, it is difficult for beneficiaries to access long-term residence as the threshold for income is high when people have families, and the language requirements are burdensome.
Long-term residence status applications cost around €130.
Specific Residence Authorisation Status
On 15 November 2018, Malta issued a policy regularising a select group of failed asylum seekers, the Specific Residence Authorisation (SRA). SRA was introduced to replace the former Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) status. SRA recognised the needs of failed asylum seekers who have been residing in Malta for a period of five years and who were actively contributing to Maltese society. To be eligible to apply, applicants needed to fulfil the following criteria:
- Applicant must have entered Malta irregularly prior to 1 January 2016 and been physically present in Malta for a period of 5 years preceding the date of application;
- Applicant must have his or her application for international protection finally rejected by the competent asylum authorities;
- Applicant must be of good conduct. Persons who have been convicted of serious crimes or are a threat to national security, public order or public interest are excluded from being granted SRA;
- Applicant must demonstrate that he or she has been in employment on a frequent basis (minimum of 9 months per year during the preceding 5 years);
- Applicant must present his or her integration efforts.
The SRA shall be valid for two years. The individual assessment was carried out by the public entity Identity Malta. SRA holders are entitled to a residence permit valid for two years with the possibility of renewal, access to core welfare benefits similar to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, employment licence, travel document, and access to state education and medical care.
Persons who held a valid Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) were to be granted an SRA automatically, without any individual assessment. Upon renewal, an individual assessment is conducted by Identity Malta and the immigration authorities based on the criteria outlined above.
In 2020, the authorities received 258 applications for SRA and delivered 234 residence permits. 62 persons saw their SRA renewed in 2020 for two more years.
In November 2020, Maltese authorities unexpectedly announced an update of the SRA policy. ID Malta confirmed that former THPN beneficiaries who were automatically granted SRA in 2018 will have their status renewed subject to the fulfilment of integration measures. Likewise, failed asylum seekers who were granted SRA on the basis that they entered Malta before 2016 and could prove stable employment would continue to be able to enjoy this status. The updated policy also foresees that the authorities shall provide to all unsuccessful SRA applicants assistance for voluntary return in their country of origin.
More importantly, the new policy specifies that new applications for the SRA will only be accepted until the end of December 2020, meaning that no new application will be permitted after this date. Existing holders of the SRA will still be able to renew their status in accordance with the revised policy but no new application will be allowed.
Numerous NGOs promptly reacted to this unexpected new policy and expressed their “shock and disappointment”. According to them, the revised SRA policy will result in people remaining undocumented and thus without access to basic services and the possibility to exercise basic rights.
They deplored the fact that contrary to the first policy which was the result of a “tense but rewarding” process of dialogue with the government, such revision was taken without any form of concertation. They stated that a one-month ultimatum to file such applications will leave many without the possibility to regularise their stay, that persons seeking removal will now run the risk of permanently reverting to an irregular immigration status. Moreover, the policy’s original family-oriented measures are now seriously restricted.
 Regulation 5 Long-Term Residence Regulations.
 Regulation 7 Long-Term Residence Regulations.
 Information provided by ID Malta, January 2021.
 A new policy that will lead to increased social exclusion and poverty, Press statement by aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Allied Rainbow Communities, Anti-Poverty Forum Malta, Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija, Blue Door English, Christian Life Communities in Malta, The Critical Institute, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Drachma, Great Oak Malta Association, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Malta Humanist Association, Migrant Women Association Malta, Millennium Chapel, MOAS, Moviment Graffitti, People for Change Foundation, Repubblika, SOS Malta, SPARK15, Women’s Rights Foundation, 25 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ab0MVO.