As had already been announced by the Government of Malta, the Malta Individual Investor Programme will be coming to a close. Malta has taken note of the concerns raised by the European Commission and by the expert group established by the Commission on citizenship and residence by investment legislations found in most European member states. Subsequently, Malta will be implementing new residence regulations which may lead to citizenship and which take into consideration the European Commission's concerns and recommendations. The agency which operates the IIP has, since last August, stopped receiving new applications. The Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency will also be closing in the coming weeks. Since its inception, around 1,460 families have been approved and just over 500 not approved.
Through the programme, the National Development and Social Fund invested in social housing, healthcare equipment, and upgrading of health centres. The programme has also supported the Maltese economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, saving both lives and jobs.
The new regulations will ensure the highest standards in the sector of residence by investment. These regulations will state that individuals can only apply for citizenship after 3 years of residence or by exception through higher investment after 1 year. In this regard, no citizenship application can be submitted before such a period. Furthermore, individuals will be allowed to apply for citizenship only after a thorough due diligence assessment has been conducted, whereas those who do not pass such test would not even be allowed to apply for citizenship. The new regulations will no longer have a concessionaire, in contrast to the previous programme. The government will keep on publishing the names of all persons who obtain Maltese citizenship and will start to also publish the names of all persons deprived of Maltese nationality.
The government reiterates that citizenship is a member state competence, whereby every European country decides on its own who are the individuals which it believes should receive citizenship. There are over 600,000 individuals who become European citizens each year with very minimal screening. As evidenced by Malta's recent unprecedented commitment to reform laws to uphold European values, Malta is implementing regulations which go way beyond what many other European Member states do to scrutinise citizenship applicants.
The government will formally reply to the letter of formal notice in due course. It is the intention of the government to use all possible legal measures to defend the national interest and sovereignty.