The Citizenship Act foresees that foreigners or stateless persons may apply for citizenship in Malta, making no specific mention of beneficiaries of international protection. Their access to naturalisation, although technically falling under the broader category of ‘foreigners’ is further regulated by an internal Government policy that requires a minimum 10-year residence period for refugees and a 20-year period for In practice, subsidiary protection beneficiaries’ applications are not usually considered.
The conditions to be able to apply include a residence in Malta throughout the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application and a residence in Malta for periods amounting in the aggregate to a minimum of four years, during the six years preceding the above period of 12 months. Applicants must also be of good character and have an adequate knowledge of the Maltese or the English languages.
Prior to submitting an application, the person has to present a residence certificate issued by the Principal Immigration Office to the Identity Malta Agency. Once the Office confirms the eligibility of the applicant, additional documents have to be produced, including a birth certificate, passport, and police conduct.
There is no time limit foreseen for a decision and the law does not require the authorities to provide reasons for rejections of applications.
The fact that there are no public guidelines on how to satisfy these broad requirements makes it difficult for TCNs to apply. There is no time limit foreseen for a decision and the law does not require the authorities to provide reasons for rejections of applications. Furthermore, the law does not grant the right of appeal in any court for the refusal of an application for citizenship.
Although there are no public guidelines, TCNs and refugees are in practice only considered for naturalisation after 10 years of residence, whilst persons with subsidiary protection are only considered after 18 or 20 years, if at all. Furthermore, the laws do not grant any form of citizenship entitlements to children born or raised in Malta. The difficulties in accessing citizenship results in TCNs, and their children, that have been living in Malta for years to continue to live precariously. They also limit integration efforts as they fail to provide a sufficiently realistic incentive.
As an additional obstacle, a new amendment to the Citizenship Regulations increased the fee from €34.94 to an exorbitant €450 for applications for naturalisation.
Identity Malta indicated that in 2021, Komunita Malta (the agency responsible for citizenship) successfully processed the applications of 16 refugee status holders who managed to obtain Maltese citizenship and that no beneficiaries of subsidiary protection who obtained Maltese citizenship.
 Citizenship Act, Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta, September 1964, available at: http://bit.ly/2lz5z8H.
 Article 10(1) Citizenship Act, Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta
 Aditus foundation, Documentation = Employability: Support Services for the Documentation of Various Communities, August 2022, available at https://bit.ly/3JfsliE
 Citizenship Regulations, S.L. 188.01 https://bit.ly/3Jc90il
 Information provided by Identity Malta, April 2022.