• Rank: 33 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 40
  • HEALTH 45

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Country of net immigration already since 1970s, with a few thousand arriving every year since 2008 
  • Slight increase in immigration from low-developed countries 
  • GDP growth and overall employment rates approaching EU average 
  • Less positive attitudes towards immigrants in MT than the average European country

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

Non-discrimination and equality has been and continues to be Malta's main way of moving forward on integration policy. While reform continues, all public bodies must already promote equality and all residents must be protected in many areas of life from unequal treatment based on their race, ethnicity, religion and other grounds. These advances on anti-discrimination for all (+14 on anti-discrimination law since 2007) were largely cancelled out by further restrictions for non-EU citizens to become long-term residents (-13 since 2007), which would guarantee them basic equal rights as MT citizens in many areas of life. While health emerges as a new area of recent improvement in MT, little-to-no improvements have been made to the other areas of MT's integration policy.

Conclusions and recommendations

MIPEX finds that MT's policies can be slightly unfavourable for integration, scoring only 40/100 and ranking 33rd out of 38 countries. Immigrants in MT do not yet benefit from a comprehensive integration policy in all areas of MT society. Ongoing plans for a more comprehensive equality law and policy can provide sanctions and incentives for MT citizens and immigrants to treat each other equally in many areas of life. These principles of equal treatment are critically important and missing from MT's other integration policies. Ordinary non-EU residents are less likely to reunite with family, become long-term residents with equal rights, and become citizens in MT than in almost any other MIPEX country. Delaying family reunion also delays the integration of these families and their sponsor. By delaying long-term residence, non-EU citizens are denied the equal rights and opportunities that they could use to improve their integration in many areas of life. These restrictions have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable, such as MT's beneficiaries of international protection, women, youth, the elderly and the ill. 
MT's integration policies can be redesigned from an integration perspective, based on evidence of their impact and the current needs in communities. Equal opportunities will also be the driving goal behind new measures to raise education outcomes for immigrant pupils and the democratic participation of long-settled immigrant communities, in order to avoid social segregation. MIPEX has and can be further used by MT stakeholders in the preparation of MT's National Migrant Integration Strategy 2015-2020, under the lead of the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties.

Policy Recommendations from People for Change

  • Increase political will and public support for integration by informing media/public discourse, producing annual assessments of integration on the basis of specific indicators and systematically evaluating all integration initiatives
  • Obtain clear integration goals and commitments in all relevant areas through the new integration strategy
  • Address specific needs of vulnerable groups to access and complete integration and residence policies
  • Increase number of applications and recognition for non-EU qualifications and experience
  • Increase civic and political participation and visibility of non-EU citizens through greater support
  • Increase immigrants’ and mainstream service providers’ awareness of immigrants’ rights to access services and discrimination remedies


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    • Outcome Indicators



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    MIPEX 38
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    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Outcome Indicators


Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

MT workers and society would benefit from opening the equal the right to work, study and benefits for non-EU residents, as these restrictions are greater in MT than most countries

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Similar numbers of working-age MT and non-EU citizens are not in employment, education and training, according to 2014 data from Eurostat's EU Integration Indicators. Overall, these levels are similar to the situation in most European countries. Specifically in MT, only around 12% of MT and non-EU citizens have recently participated in education or training. A relatively small share of MT and non-EU men are inactive on the labour market (20%), while the number rises to 40% for non-EU women and 50% of MT women. 

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

The labour market regulations are only halfway favourable for non-EU residents to contribute to the economy. These regulations are more restrictive than in 28 out of the 38 MIPEX countries, far below most new countries of immigration in Southern Europe (GR, IT, PT, ES).  MT residents with non-EU citizenship cannot quickly or easily change jobs or benefit from the same general support and benefits that MT citizens use to pursue jobs and training. Even with the adoption of the minimums required by the EU single residence and work permit, the situation has barely changed since 2007. The 2014 National Employment Policy stated that government's duty is to facilitate labour market integration and increase immigrants' training and education to fill labour market shortages.

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Non-EU citizens can work in the private sector, self-employment and public sector
  • Extra obstacles emerge for non-EU residents to set up their own business (see trend towards equal access to self-employment in Southern and Central Europe, e.g. GR, HU, PL)
  • MT one of only 11 MIPEX countries with formal requirements delaying labour market access for family migrants (immediate access guaranteed in 26, recently GR and ES, also recommended in guidance by European Commission)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Non-EU newcomers rarely have the same general opportunities to invest in their skills and qualifications in MT compared to most other countries
  • The restrictions in MT are greater than in 30 out of 38 countries, far below most Western and new immigration countries that treat immigrants and citizens equally in education and training (e.g. CY, DE, GR, IT, PT, ES)
  • People with education and work experience in non-EU countries can convince MT employers of their skills through formal recognition of these academic degrees and skills
  • Greater obstacles exist for non-EU professional qualifications in MT regulated professions
  • Non-EU residents needing MT degrees or training do not all have the same clear access as MT citizens to the necessary study grants, public employment services and training, unlike most countries (with equal access to grants in 10, e.g. GR, IT, PT, ES)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • As in most countries, non-EU citizens in MT can get basic information about their labour market options, rights and recognition procedures, including a new 2014 one-stop-shop website (
  • Besides information, MT provides no regular targeted support for labour market integration
  • Targeted support is a weakness in most Southern and Central European countries behind leading new immigration, such as PT, EE, JP, KR
  • A one-stop-shop centre could orient and coordinate work-related language courses, peer-to-peer mentoring and intercultural training for the private and public sector, including ETC (see model in PT and examples in AT, DK, EE, DE, JP, KR)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Migrants and MT citizens enjoy the same working conditions and access to trade unions
  • Non-EU workers do not enjoy equal access to social assistance and security, even if they pay their taxes and contributions like all other MT workers, which can undermine their long-term labour market and social integration

Policy Box

Malta is one of the 10 countries to use EU law (2003/86/EC) to restrict family members’ access to employment or self-employment. As of 2007, they need to formally pass a labour market assessment in their 1st year and obtain an employment licence. A temporary worker also needs one. The Minister has full discretion to cancel or change the licence at any time. 

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Very few working-age non-EU or MT citizens seem to access adult education and training (only around 12% in 2014). These numbers are similarly low for men and for women. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • Increasing overall employment rate nearing EU average with ≥2% average GDP growth since 2010 
  • Generally rigid employment protection legislation in  Southern Europe
  • Majority of recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits in MT
  • Languages in MT are beneficial for rapid labour market integration

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

The basic data available for MT (EU Integration Indicators) suggest that non-EU citizen men and women are just as likely to find work as MT men and women under the current labour market. Employment rates in 2014 were similar for non-EU and MT men (75%) and women (≈50%, slightly higher for non-EU). Over the long-term (after 10+ years in MT), the low-educated non-EU-born workers seem to rarely suffer from in-work poverty (11%), with relatively similar rates for low-educated MT workers (10%). Data is not available on high-educated non-EU citizens' exposure to over-qualification, meaning they work in jobs below their education level. As a result, this preliminary data suggests that the current economic conditions would allow MT workers and society to easily benefit from opening equal labour market access and general support to non-EU residents. 

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Non-EU citizens were least likely to reunite with family in MT than in nearly any other European country, because of its long-delayed, restrictive and discretionary policy

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

Given how small is the immigrant community in MT, figures unfortunately do not exist on the number of non-EU residents who are separated from their children, spouses or close family.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

The desire to reunite with family is a key indicator of immigrants' willingness to settle and integrate long-term. While family life is central to MT society, so far, non-EU families in MT are given some of the worst opportunities to reunite and integrate in Europe. The few families that can be reunited will be relatively secure in their future together in MT. To reach that point, they must overcome the limited definition of the family, vague conditions, complicated parallel procedures and limited rights, even potentially violating EU law. This policy creates more obstacles than opportunities from an integration perspective, making MT less welcoming of new families than 32 out of the 38 countries. Only CY, DK, IE and UK are more restrictive. 
In contrast, most new countries of immigration are usually the most welcoming countries for new families (top scores for PT, SI, ES and slightly favourable in HR & IT). Unlike these countries, MT's Regulation 217.06 took a restrictive and minimalist approach to implementing EU law without much justification. This initial approach to family reunion is potentially disproportionate and ineffective for integration and thus is no longer recommended by the  European Commission based on EU case-law and norms. In 2014, MT got +1 point closer to a more family-friendly immigration policy. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • MT delays and excludes more sponsors from applying than 30 other MIPEX countries (see instead HR, IT, PT)
  • Delay up to 2 years is longer than in 24 countries and not recommended by European Commission
  • Vague requirement of 'reasonable prospects of obtaining the right to permanent residence', unlike in 27 countries
  • Sponsors can only reunite with their unmarried minor children and spouse/partner; non-EU same-sex partners can be reunited as civil-union partners since 2014 (+4 points), similar to 17 countries
  • MT remains only 1 of 8 countries setting a disproportionate age limit for couples higher than the legal marriageable age, without equal treatment for young couples including a non-EU citizen
  • Unlike 25 countries, MT also enforces more conservative approach for non-EU extended families, with no clear entitlement for sponsors who can provide for their physically or financially dependent elderly parents and adult children
  • The average European country is twice as open to non-EU families as MT, especially other countries in Southern Europe (IT, PT, SI, ES)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The halfway favourable conditions are still more restrictve than most countries, ranking 25th
  • Potententially cumbersome housing requirement 
  • High and demanding proof of economic resources (average – not minimum – wage, without any social assistance, plus +20% per family member), disproportionate for vulnerable groups, esp. women 
  • MT and only 9 other countries have obligations for sponsors and family members to attend and complete courses (in Maltese); MT most discretionary of all, also without specific vulnerable groups exempt in law or flexible alternatives to the course

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Non-EU families are slightly insecure in their status, more so than in 29 other countries (similar to AT, DK, IE)
  • They experience a vague and discretionary, potentially long procedure (max 9 months)
  • Several grounds for rejection and withdrawal, without explicit obligations to take personal and family circumstances into account
  • Family members' permits are not initially as long as their sponsors (see instead 19 countries, most of Western Europe)
  • In contrast, clear path and secure future for families to live together in IT, PT, SI, ES

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Same access to education, training and benefits as sponsor, but still formal limits on right to work (as in only 13 countries including only CY & TU in the region)
  • Most countries removing these legal obstacles (e.g. AT, GR, ES) that keep families economic dependent on their sponsor with potentially negative long-term consequences 
  • Reunited families also kept dependent on sponsor's residence status for 5 years, with even limited rights in case of divorce or domestic violence/abuse

Policy Box

MT did not use the initial opportunity of implementing EU law (2003/86/ EC) to improve its family reunion policies from an integration perspective, unlike other new countries of immigration. 25 of the 38 countries have a clear entitlement for some/all dependent parents or adult children. Recently, LU reduced the residence period to 1 year, which is standard in the majority of EU Member States. Families have also gained equal rights to work (AT, GR, ES). Thanks to new 6-month caps on the procedure in HU and ES, families are not kept apart longer than necessary.

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

Extremely low numbers of family members were reunited with their non-EU sponsor in recent years in MT (172 in 2008, 61 in 2009 and just 20-30 between 2010-2012). These were the smallest numbers by far in the EU. These numbers seem to have caught up in 2013, with 1295 family members reportedly reuniting with their non-EU sponsor in MT. Children make up 2/3 of reuniting family members over the years (e.g. 859 in 2012 vs. 436 spouses). Hardly any other family members have been allowed to reunite with non-EU sponsors in MT (just 19 since 2008). These families' nationalities only partly reflect the immigrant communities living in MT. Most from 2008-2013 were LY (40% in 2013), RS (12%), RU (7%), TU, CN, IN, while hardly any during this period came from major refugee-producing countries (e.g. ER, SO, SY). 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Many newcomers recently settling down with family as in other Southern European countries
  • Sizeable share of humanitarian migrants likely to stay and need family reunion
  • Few permit holders may be considered eligible (76% in 2011 with study or 3-to-11-month permits for work, family or other reasons)
  • 43% from low-or-medium developing countries and thus likely to reunite

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

MT had the lowest non-EU family reunion rate in Europe in recent years. For example, in 2011 and 2012, non-EU sponsors were less likely to reunite with their family in MT than in any other European country except IE. For every 100 non-EU residents in MT, only 0.3 were newly arrived family members. If MT reported the correct numbers to Eurostat in 2013, then MT now has the highest non-EU family reunion rate in Europe, with these newly arrived family members making up around 13% of the total non-EU population in MT. This rate is comparable to SE's regularly high non-EU family reunion rates. These figures would suggest that MT's discretionary family reunion policies were kept more restrictive than any other country, until recently. Any future opening of the procedure can be accompanied by a new legal framework that sets out a new family-friendly policy in MT.


Key Findings

All schools need systematic support to include immigrant communities in school life and address the specific needs and opportunities that immigrant pupils bring to the classroom 

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

<1% of 15-year-old pupils in MT had immigrant parents or immigrated themselves to MT. Looking more broadly, 3.9% of all children aged 0-14 were born abroad (1144 in EU countries and 1224 in non-EU countries). As in most other new destination countries (e.g. JP, Central Europe), these numbers are low but likely to grow. 

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

MT's one good foundation for integration in school is its basic curricular goals on intercultural education. While all pupils are supposed to learn in a cooperative setting with multiple cultures and languages, MT schools receive almost no other targeted support to address the specific needs and opportunities that immigrant pupils bring to the classroom. Like other new destination countries with small immigrant communities, MT only offers ad hoc projects for a few groups and schools. MT's policies rank 32nd out of 38, alongside these countries and far behind leading new destinations (CZ, EE, PT, ES). In the future, the pilot projects began in 2014 may be adapted and expanded under new regulations sfor all schools in need of support. 

Dimension 1: Access

  • Immigrant pupils may be left out or drop out of the education system because of MT's weak policies on access (only as problematic as in Central Europe, IS, TU)
  • All non-EU minors seem to have legal access to the education system, but restrictions emerge for those over 18
  • External expert centres are not there to properly assess newcomer pupils and help choose the right level and school (see FR, LU)
  • No concrete support for new arrivals to access vocational training or higher education 

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • MT schools receive weak support to maintain high expectations for immigrant pupils
  • With MT ranking 32nd, support seems to be weaker than in even many other new and small destination countries
  • After teachers learn some basic techniques in pre-service training, they receive no other systematic support to identify and address any specific needs of immigrant pupils
  • Most countries guarantee enough extra support for pupils to attain communicative literacy, although the quality standards for courses vary across countries (MT's current support is weaker than 32 countries)
  • Pilot project began in 2014 for langauge and parental support for integration, though limited to a 6-weeks' induction and 'very basic language capacity' 
  • A slight majority of countries guarantee either extra financial support or professional support (e.g. Learning Support Assistants) for schools proportionate with their number of immigrant pupils 

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • MT schools completely missing out on the multilingualism and multiculturalism in their own classrooms, with no support for social integration, immigrant languages, cultures or parental outreach
  • 22 countries teach major immigrant languages in/after school  (e.g. Northern Europe, GR, PT, ES) 
  • Courses organised sometimes through bilateral agreements with countries of origin, occasionally as foreign language options for all pupils
  • External community/expert centres have the mandate to support schools with intercultural mediators to organise immigrant language/culture courses, parental outreach and cooperative learning for immigrant and non-immigrant pupils in the same or different schools (e.g. AU, FR, LU, NO, PL, PT, CH) 
  • First modest step taken in MT with 2013 Circular proposing ad hoc short training for non-EU parents to become bilingual mediators between new families and schools/colleges

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • The support for schools to implement intercultural education are slightly weak in MT as well as a near-majority of countries
  • National Curriculum Framework for All places diversity as one of the core principles across the curriculum for all pupils to learn about minority groups' different languages and cultures
  • Schools are guided and monitored on how they implement this principle, though more structural funds could support in-service training and inform the public on the benefits of diversity for MT


Key Findings

Healthcare entitlements are more unclear and discretionary in MT than almost anywhere else; For migrants able to access or pay for healthcare, some services are slowly becoming more accessible and responsive to their specific health needs

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Ranking halfway at 19th out of 38, MT's migrant health policy creates both obstacles and opportunities to properly treat migrant patients. Many categories of migrants lack clear entitlements to healthcare coverage in MT, which creates more gaps in the law and problems in practice than in any MIPEX country except KR. Migrants able to access or pay for healthcare coverage will find that a number of services have become more accessible and responsive to their specific health needs, thanks to the actions led by the Migrant Health Liaison Office since 2008 (see box). These changes have made services at least halfway accessible and responsive, which is typical for the average Western European country.  

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Many types of migrants in MT may fall outside the entitlement to free NHS access to unclear rules, discretionary decisions and requirements for documentation (see instead positive developments in FR, CH, NL, IT, RO) 
  • Legal migrants face unclear rules for free access to NHS (private insurance needed for most visas and then in MT must work and pay National Insurance contributions) 
  • Whether undocumented migrants have full and free NHS access depends on the discretion of health service providers
  • Free healthcare only for asylum-seekers without 'sufficient means' or regular work, leaving their entitlement to care up to the discretion and documentation required by health service providers
  • Detained migrants' access to free medical care can also depend on willingness of staff at detention facilities to grant access to care and medicine
  • Overall, no clear legal exemptions or entitlements exist for migrants in at-risk or vulnerable populations 

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Since 2008, the Migrant Health Liaison Office has developed slightly favourable measures to inform migrant patients and help them access healthcare services, which are similar to measures in many Western European countries
  • Mostly asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants informed on entitlements and health issues through a few different methods and languages (AR, FR, SO, TI)
  • Onsite trained cultural mediators to help clients and practitioners overcome language and cultural barriers
  • No obligation or sanction for treating undocumented migrants in MT or in the majority of MIPEX countries

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Healthcare services in MT and most Western European countries are slowly becoming responsive to migrants' specific health needs
  • Various types of interpretation are available on a small scale 
  • Cultural mediators sometimes involved in designing and providing health education
  • Some standards and training available for practitioners 

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Policies and services have evolved hand-in-hand through the Migrant Health Liaison Office, a few specialised departments and a small community of migrant health stakeholders
  • Health data and research is also available to help policies become more responsive to migrants' health needs

Policy Box

Targeted information to migrants is facilitated through the Migrant Health Liaison Office, within the Department of Primary Health. The office was established in August 2008  in response to new boat arrivals. Its staff help migrants with accessing services when required and with community-based health education. On-site trained cultural mediators assist health professionals and clients to overcome language and cultural barriers. The office also trains healthcare professionals, students and migration stakeholders on cultural diversity issues in healthcare.

Political Participation

Key Findings

MT could make its policies much more effective by structurally consulting and supporting immigrant communities  

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

An estimated 10,020 non-EU adults (aged 15+) are excluded from democratic life in MT because they are non-EU citizens without any voting rights. As a result, around 3% of the entire MT population is disenfranchised. This is a larger share of the population than in most other new countries of immigration in Central Europe, though still lower than in nearby IT, GR, CY.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Since 2007, MT has not progressed on political participation like neighbouring new immigration countries: IT, PT, ES and recently GR. It more resembles CY or Baltic and Central European countries. Without structural support for associations or consultative bodies of immigrants, new communities find it hard to reach politicians and the public. They cannot improve the policies that affect them daily, since most authorities design policies ‘for’ them and are not informed by or accountable to them. 

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • MT's old policy on reciprocal local voting rights for Council of Europe countries is ineffective and less relevant for today’s immigrant population
  • Unlike ES, MT has not tried to sign reciprocity agreements
  • Several new countries of immigration have enlarged the franchise through local voting rights, at least for long-term residents (21 countries total, including CZ, EE, PT, SI, ES, SK)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Like all Western European countries, MT does not encroach on non-EU immigrants' basic political liberties
  • Non-EU citizens can join political parties, work as journalists and form associations

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Structural consultation of immigrants is missing in MT and only 10 other countries, most with smaller immigrant communities than MT
  • New and sometimes innovative structures continue to be founded in both old and new destination countries (and soon MT)
  • The most sustainable new bodies were built on strong ownership from immigrants, who are freely elected from among interested associations/individuals, representing different nationalities and groups (e.g. women, youth) and (co)chairing the discussions

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • MT and again only 10 other countries offer no structural funding for immigrants to set up community civic organisations 
  • Small-scale grants can build core capacity and support civic consultation of MT's immigrant-led NGOs, numbering at least 24 with or without registration (e.g. PT's GATAI, IE's NCP, BE's Minderhedenforum) 

Real beneficiaries

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Around half from highly developed countries and thus more likely to participate in public life 
  • Sizeable number of humanitarian migrants likely to become civically active in long-term

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

Unlike in most countries and new destinations, hardly any non-EU citizens become long-term residents in MT because its policy excludes and discourages many from applying

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Becoming long-term residents would give non-EU residents in MT the best opportunities to invest in their future, with equal socio-economic and mobility rights. MT puts more obstacles in their way on its highly discretionary path to long-term residence. Its policy is more restrictive than 34 out of the 38 countries, on par with only CY, FR, IE, and TU. This approach delays and discourages integration. MT's initial approach to implement EU long-term residence even below the minimums set in EU law, with MT's Legal Notices 150 of 2007, 750 of 2010 and 197 of 2014. Only 2014 did MT allow for long-settled beneficiaries of international protection to become EU long-term residents. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • MT excludes many long-settled non-EU citizens who have legally resided there for the 5+ required years
  • The eligibility provisions are slightly unfavourable for long-term residence and more restrictive than in 32 countries (only as exclusionary as CY, IE, FR, NL, TU) 
  • 2010 Notice N. 750 further restricted the eligibility rules, excluding time spent for temporary grounds, study/training or humanitarian grounds other than international proetction

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Those eligible non-EU immigrants may not be able or supported to become long-term residents, as MT restricts the conditions more than 34 other countries (only similar in CY, GR, and, recently, UK), possibly violating EU law (see box)
  • Equal treatment is more often the benchmark in Western Europe, where potential long-term residents are simply expected to meet the minimums required of EU citizens and national citizens (e.g. income at level of social assistance, more proportionate fees)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Long-term residents gives non-EU citizens a slightly secure future in MT and the EU
  • Long-term residents can simply renew their permit every 5 years (permanent and no renewal required in 27 others)
  • They can live for 1 year outside the EU or 6 years in another EU country
  • Still, they can lose their status and risk being deported on a few grounds, even if they live in MT for years or were born there
  • At least long-term residents enjoy good legal guarantees, as in most countries

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Long-term residents participate on a more equal footing in MT society with equal access to employment, education and training and social/tax benefits
  • EC long-term residents also gain the right to move from MT to reside and work in other EU Member States

Policy Box

In MT, applicants must be able to pay a high fee by MT standards. They must pass a disproportionately high requirements on their accomodation (cannot be shared with non-family) and income (2 years' stable resources, without any social assistance, plus +20% per family member). Furthermore, they must obtain a 75% score on an integration course and English or Maltese A2-level test in past year. This integration requirement is slightly more likely to discourage applicants from applying than to promote their language learning and integration. To be successful, free courses and support would have to be accessible and guaranteed for all applicants, also with clear legal exemptions for those with proven abilities and vulnerable groups (e.g. elderly, ill, disabled, humanitarian migrants).

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

Only 614 non-EU citizens are long-term residents in MT as of 2013. Within the EU, only BG has fewer long-term residents than MT. Around half (283) are EU long-term residents, with the right to reside and move in other EU countries, whereas the slight majority (331) are long-term residents under MT national legislation. According to MT data reported to Eurostat, the number of long-term residents does not seem to have increased every year until recently, with around 100-200 long-term residents in MT in the years between 2008-2012. Around 60% of long-term residents come from 5 nationalities: RS (1/4), RU (1/8), CN (1/10), BH, IN. The numbers for most nationalities are only in the single digits. There are no recorded long-term residents from major refugee-producing countries, such as ER & SO.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Many newcomers recently settling down in Southern Europe
  • Sizeable share of humanitarian migrants unlikely to return to their country of origin
  • Few permit holders may be considered eligible (76% in 2011 with study or 3-to-11-month permits for work, family or other reasons)
  • Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation unable to become MT citizens under its highly discretionary naturalisation policies

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

6% of non-EU citizens in MT have become long-term residents, according to the 2013 data. Non-EU citizens are least likely to become long-term residents in MT and other countries with highly restrictive policies, such as BG, CY, DK, IE. The number of long-term residents strongly reflects countries' path to long-term residence and citizenship. Unlike MT, long-term residence is an ordinary part of the integration process in other countries with many newcomers (e.g. CZ, ES, SI, IT, SE).

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Most discretionary policy in Europe excludes most immigrants without family connections or 650,000€

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Like CY, MT has not updated its citizenship policy to reflect its transformation from a country of emigration to immigration. For many years, its ancestry-based policy was focused on emigrants abroad. While its 2013 Investor Citizenship Programme made headlines across Europe and in the European institutions, most long-settled ordinary residents cannot become citizens, unless they have 650,000€ or family connections to a MT citizen. The government only extends citizenship for humanitarian reasons and with absolute discretion (see box).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The general eligibility rules are poorly adapted to the realities of new families in MT
  • UK-style birthright citizenship was removed in 1989, but not replaced with another form of entitlement to MT citizenship for immigrants' children, who are born or raised in MT, but treated like foreign newcomers
  • Entitlements are emerging in a majority of countries (e.g. PT, ES, recently CZ and DK) and discussed in many more (e.g. GR and IT) 

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • For ordinary applicants, the requirements are similar on paper to the average EU country, but highly discretionary in practice
  • Applicants must prove that they can meet vague language and good character requirements and find two references from 'trustworthy' non-naturalised Maltese citizens, including one judge, priest, doctor, lawyer, army officer, policeman or parliamentarian
  • In most other countries, immigrants must simply obtain standard language levels (A2 in 13 countries) and generally used standard good character or criminal record documents  

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • These poorly defined requirements are applied in the most discretionary procedure of all MIPEX countries, on par with only IE
  • Applicants who meet the stated requirements can be rejected on vague grounds, without the right to learn why or appeal
  • Naturalised citizens can also lose their citizenship on a few grounds, which leaves them more insecure than in most other countries

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Dual nationality is embraced in MT since 2000, as in most MIPEX countries
  • These dual nationals are more likely to naturalise and unlikely to become stateless

Policy Box

MT passed an Individual Investor Programme (IIP) with Legal Notice 47 2014 and then, under heavy EU pressure, introduced a flexible one-year residence requirement. Main applicants receive MT citizenship in exchange for a 650,000€ contribution to the National Development and Social Fund.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

The annual number of naturalisations in MT rose from approximately 500 per year from 2003-2007 to approximately 1000 per year from 2010-2013. Only around half come from non-EU citizens. Most of these naturalisations (90% in recent years) come from the spouses, children or descendants of MT citizens. Only around 100 would qualify as ordinary naturalisations. In 2014, the new Individual Investor Programme already obtained 400 applications, 54% from Russian citizens. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • Many temporary workers and students may be considered ineligible for citizenship
  • Most from highly developed countries and less likely to naturalise

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

MT's citizenship policies are largely responsible for its inconsistent naturalisation rates. MT has one of the highest naturalisation rates in Europe, given its comparatively small immigrant community and large emigrant community abroad. The level is similar to countries with other highly discretionary citizenship policies (e.g.  IE after 2011 and PL before 2012). In 2012, approximately 10 non-EU citizens were naturalised for every 100 legally resident on the island. The rates are higher for non-EU citizen women and the elderly 65 than on average in Europe. The high naturalisation rates in MT are unrelated to immigrant integration, as most naturalised citizens are not immigrants, but former emigrants abroad and MT family members benefiting from special privileges.


Key Findings

MT's anti-discrimination approach are its greatest and growing strength for promoting social integration: Plans for stronger equality act and body can better enforce the law and reach out to immigrant victims of discrimination 

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

Even with its small immigrant communities, MT had 1.8% of the population in 2012 reporting that they had been discriminated against or harassed the previous year based on their religion/beliefs (1.8) ethnic origin (0.3%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.6%). Going beyond these general rough estimates, discrimination is frequently cited by immigrants in MT (e.g. Africans in 2008 EU-MIDIS survey).

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

MT's new anti-discrimination and equality laws are its greatest and growing strength for promoting integration. One of the last countries to implement EU law, MT not only created a legal framework (in 2002, 2004, 2007), but recently replaced its minimalist approach with a more comprehensive approach to fight discrimination (since 2012, +13 points). While MT has been catching up with European-wide trends, reform is still on the table to overcome the significant weaknesses in its  laws and policies, currently ranking just 26th out of the 38 countries. MT is proposing to follow the international trend to create a comprehensive single equality act and body, with stronger mechanisms to enforce the law, inform the public and guarantee equality in public services (e.g. in Europe, see IE, UK, Nordics). 

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • Since 2007 and 2012, all MT residents can better challenge  discrimination based not only on race and gender, but all EU protected grounds, as in most countries 
  • One major weakness is that non-EU citizens are still exposed to nationality discrimination as clear prohibitions are missing, unlike in 22 countries (e.g. FR, IE, IT, UK) 
  • Victims may fall between the cracks of MT's different Acts because of discrimination based on multiple grounds, assumed or associated characteristics and ethnic profiling (see instead CA, SE, UK, US)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Since 2012, all residents are better protected from racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in all areas of life, in a new 'horitzonal approach' now common in most European countries
  • These greater protections are only halfway favourable for non-EU citizens who may be denied an opportunity because of their nationality
  • The European trend is to replace the uneven discrimination legislation with a single comprehensive Equality Act for wide or non-exhaustive list of grounds and areas, as was proposed in MT at the end of 2014

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Where MT prohibits discrimination, a potential victim can seek justice through slightly effective enforcement mechanisms, which are similar across Europe
  • Victims can receive protection against victimisation and hope for a limited number of possible sanctions if the judge finds an offence. They also do not have to carry the burden of proof throughout the procedure
  • The process can nevertheless be long, costly and complicated
  • Victims' supporters have no scope for class action or actio popularis, unlike in 21 MIPEX countries

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) is now competent on the main discrimination grounds, including religion/belief  
  • NCPE cannot instigate court proceedings or engage in them on behalf of victims (see rather strong in 16 countries, e.g. AU, CA, FR, IE, PT, SE, UK, US) 
  • Weak equality policies to date in MT compared to most countries
  • While public bodies are legally obliged to promote equality since 2010, this commitment has not led to few concrete measures for victims and the broader MT public
  • Other governments lead dialogue and information campaigns and oblige public bodies and their service providers to assess the impact of their work on equality (e.g. UK) and adopt positive measures (e.g. all English-speaking countries, NO, SE)
  • Reform has been proposed for stronger equality bodies and powers (e.g. a Human Rights and Equality Commission)

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

The number of discrimination cases is unknown because courts are not obliged to register and publish them. MT's earlier approaches to anti-discrimination seem to have led to very few complaints reported on racial discrimination. For example, NCPE received only 4 complaints in 2011, 3 in 2012 and 5 in 2013. These are very small numbers compared to most other EU countries. Civil society initiatives try to fill the gap in MT as in other countries (e.g. PFC's support for reporting racist incidents

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • Around 40% of the MT general public know their rights as discrimination victims, though these levels are much lower among migrants (EU-MIDIS)
  • Trust in police and justice system is generally lower in Southern Europe
  • Most are newly arrived and not naturalised and therefore less willing to challenge discrimination

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Few complaints are made compared to the large number of people reportly experiencing incidents of racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. For example, only 1 complaint was received by NCPE for approximately every 1000 people in MT experiencing an incident of ethnic or religious discrimination. Non-reporting is the norm across Europe. MT, like most countries, must take the first steps to properly enforce and resource their laws in order to guarantee access to justice for potential victims of discrimination.



New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!