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 Righs 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 close to impossible for beneficiaries to access long-term residence as the threshold for income is particularly high and the language requirements are burdensome.
Specific Residence Authorisation Status
On 15 November 2018, Malta issued a policy regularising a select group of failed asylum seekers, the Specific Residence Authorisation. The Specific Residence Authorisation (SRA) was introduced to replace the former Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) status. SRA recognises the needs of failed asylum seekers who have been residing in Malta for a period of five years and are actively contributing to Maltese society. In order to be eligible to apply applicants need 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 is 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 hold a valid Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) are to be granted an SRA automatically, without any individual assessment. Upon renewal, an individual assessment will be conducted by Identity Malta and the immigration authorities based on the criteria outlined above.
The Government also clarified how the above-listed eligibility criteria will be assessed, taking into account the particular situation of families, vulnerable persons and those who were unable to secure legal employment.
In 2019, the authorities received 878 applications for SRA and delivered 861 residence permits.
However, according to NGOs working in the field, many people were denied the right to apply when Identity Malta considered their application prima facie not complete. Consequently, these individuals were not given any document or clear explanation as to the reason why they were not allowed to apply.
When applications are registered and processed, people usually receive a decision in writing mentioning either the acceptance or the ground for rejection. However, no information about the possibility to challenge such a negative decision is mentioned and it remains unclear how one can challenge such decisions.
NGOs assisting migrants for SRA applications report that the procedure is swift from the moment applications are registered. They also report that no matter the situation of the applicant, the requirement of irregular entry is absolute and suffers no exception.
NGOs also report issues when assessing families’ applications and reported many women being rejected when their male partners received residence permits.
 Regulation 5 Long-Term Residence Regulations.
 Regulation 7 Long-Term Residence Regulations.