Malta Residence Rights for Non-EU Nationals

Draft legislation on the status of non-EU nationals resident in Malta

Malta is currently in the process of transposing into Maltese law the EU Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents.

The directive entered into force on the 12 February 2004 and has to be complied with by January 23. The directive provides for the free movement of these persons and measures relating to external border controls, asylum and immigration.

In October 1999, the European Council had decided that the legal status of third-country nationals should be brought as close as possible to that of member states’ nationals and that a person who has resided legally in a member state for a period of time and who holds a long-term residence permit should be granted a set of uniform rights which were as near as possible to those enjoyed by citizens of the European Union.

Like other Member States, Malta will start to recognise long-term resident status after an individual’s five years’ continuous legal residence.  Such non-EU nationals would be granted long-term residence permits under this directive and would enjoy equal treatment as local nationals with regards to access to employment and the right of residence in the territory. A number of reservations would however apply.  For instance, Member states may refuse to grant long-term residence status on grounds of public policy or public security.

The Home Affairs Ministry said Malta was prepared to comply with the provisions of the directive. It said that consultations were being held at the level of ministries to examine certain provisions.  The ministry has also attended ad hoc meetings held by the European Commission called to clarify the interpretation of certain provisions.  Malta, the ministry said, intended to abide by the deadline set for the transposition and implementation of the directive.  The ministry stated that third-country nationals, excluding refugees and persons enjoying humanitarian protection, would be eligible to hold long-term resident status if they have been residing legally in Malta for more than five years.  A number of persons, most of whom are residing in Malta on the strength of an employment licence and who satisfy the stipulated conditions would, therefore, be eligible for such status.

Third-country nationals would be asked to provide evidence that they have stable and regular resources to maintain themselves and their families without recourse to the social assistance system of the member state.