Malta: Why Are Malta Citizenship Applications Rejected?

Last Updated: 4 December 2018
Article by Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

The Honourable Julia Farrugia Portelli once rightly stated that 'more high net worth individuals are seriously weighing their options in resorting to global citizenship to ensure a better future for their families or to expand their business possibilities.' A notion visible in the beaming faces of the many families Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates helps in attaining their Maltese citizenship.

It may be the case, however, that not everyone gets to share in the good fortune of acquiring a Maltese passport. Although a rare occasion, applicants who have witnessed a rejection letter from the Malta Citizenship Agency usually seek counsel on how to proceed.

A Selective Programme

It is a misconception that Malta's Individual Investor Programme ('MIIP') admits all applicants. Over the past four years, 1 out of 4 applicants have been subject to rejection. The agency responsible for admitting new Maltese citizens, the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency ('MIIPA'), employs a four-tier due diligence which filters out those global citizens not deemed worthy.

Jonathan Cardona, MIIPA's CEO, prioritises the necessity of having a potent due diligence process. The Agency's aim 'has always been to carefully select through the right checks and balances, and a rigorous due diligence process'. Only the right global citizens will get to enjoy the benefits that Malta offers.

Would you be eligible?

1.      Do you have a criminal record?

Being in possession of a criminal record, or even being the subject of criminal proceedings, can easily render one ineligible for a Maltese passport. MIIPA also strongly considers the reputational profile of the applicant and their family, especially since successful business families are often subject to bad press. In situations like these, Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates takes it upon themselves to assess, disclose and explain these issues.

Political Exposed Persons (PEPs), nevertheless, are not automatically denied from a passport. Although, they'll be subject to a rigorous due diligence process to ensure a secure source of wealth, an apt reputation and a suitable international status, in line with Malta's foreign policies and relations.

2.      Are you a threat to national security?

An application is subject to rejection if the submitter is a potential threat to national security, or any other member state within the European Union.

3.      Did you submit false information?

Persons voluntarily and purposely submitting misinterpreted or incomplete information, would be asking for a rejection.

4.      Do you have an unclean source of wealth?

A prominent indication that the applicant's source of funds and wealth are not legitimate would translate to not enjoying a Maltese passport. Despite applicants being already subject to rejection even if one of the aforementioned criteria are satisfied, it is up to the applicant's lawyers to clarify how their client's income was generated. In these cases, exhibiting the applicant's total net worth would not be a substantial enough basis for acquiring a Maltese citizenship.

5.      Do you have an inauspicious immigration history?

An applicant would be deemed unfit for the MIIP if they had been denied visa to a country with which Malta has a visa-free travel arrangement, especially if said applicant has not obtained a visa in that jurisdiction since.

Despite this, Identity Malta is vested with the discretion to still consider the application for approval if the applicant's agents prompt a suitable and valid argument on their client's behalf.

A 4 Step Success

A comprehensive understanding of the abovementioned grounds for ineligibility and examining the rationale of the programme is also crucial is the key to a successful application. 

  1. Working with a reputable law firm would ensure a sense of security when disclosing confidential information, especially in the context of lawyer-client privilege. Minor indiscretions may have major implications on the outcome of the application, especially if not identified.
  2. Asking about the firm's data security standards would ensure that your law firm of choice deploys bank-grade security standards. In turn, this would assert that client data is secure, especially when faced with data breaches.
  3. Opening up and giving your lawyers the full picture. A Chetcuti Cauchi Advocate consultant would prefer to be in control of the outcome of an application. Having all the relevant facts is an essential key to a successful application.
  4. Having lawyers who can study the facts presented, to undertake their own undertake their own enhanced due diligence research to ensure the completeness of that information, to discuss a strategy that maximises your chances of success and, ultimately, are honest enough to advise you when the chances of a positive outcome are slim.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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