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Citizenship in Malta, interview with our expert Laszlo Kiss

calendar 9/5/2020 8:00:00 AM
author Laszlo Kiss Citizenship
Since it started in 2014, the Maltese CBI program has been considered the best of the best. Its strong due diligence process, EU compliance, a favorable tax regime, and the fact the passport gives you full access to the EU to work, live, travel, and invest, quickly put it at the top of the CBI programs.

However, that also means the process to gain access can be difficult. In Mundo, together with NTL, we have more than two decades of experience helping people acquiring second passports to protect their families, their legacies, and their assets. In that time, we’ve built a network of experts that includes Discus Holdings, one of the top service providers in Europe. We talked with its Managing Director, Laszlo Kiss, who answered all the main questions our clients constantly ask regarding Malta’s CBI and RBI programs.

 

Thank you for joining us today, Laszlo. First of all, the Maltese CBI and RBI programs are probably the most prestigious. Why have they been so successful?

Answer: In 2020, only two EU Member States have real citizenship by investment programs. Both Malta and Cyprus are flourishing countries with mild weather, welcoming people, and low taxes. Moreover, the Maltese passport is the most useful travel document among all travel documents of the jurisdictions with CIP schemes.

 

What advantages can the program offer for investors, especially Latin American investors?

Answer: Latin American investors can enjoy the incomparable advantages of Malta. They become citizens of the European Union, can travel, live, and work in any other European countries in the Union and the Schengen zone. Don't forget the citizens' children may also study in other states. Also, it's vital to notice that Malta's low-tax regime differs from the other rigid and high-tax laws of most EU Member States. Malta has a long tradition of productive, profitable commerce and banking. The Maltese financial center is prepared to accept business from Latin-America, there are no cultural barriers, and the financial institutes are flexible. Nowadays, health care became a crucially important question. The blue EU healthcare card allows the holders to receive treatment in any other Member State for free. Maltese citizens, who are living in another country do not have to pay tax on their foreign-sourced income.

 

Why choose Malta, and not Cyprus, who is an EU member, too, or one of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands that offer a CBI program?

Answer: Malta has unique advantages. First of all, in the EU, only Malta and Ireland use English as an official language. Don't forget that Malta uses territorial taxation, and foreign-sourced income is tax-exempt while Cyprus has a worldwide tax system.

Regarding the comparison with the Caribbean programs, the primary benefit of those programs is the Schengen visa exemption. Still, a Caribbean passport does not allow you to live or work in the European Union. The passport of Malta offers you another level of freedom to travel. The Maltese passport will enable you to enter 169 countries without a visa or by picking up one upon arrival, and it is the fifth strongest travel document of the world. Even the strongest Caribbean passport (of Saint Kitts and Nevis) allows you to enter only 142 countries and holds the 19th position in the international comparison of the passports' strength.

 

Are the programs seeing many backlogs? What is the average time it takes to get the CBI and RBI?

Answer: As official agents of the program, it is our responsibility to submit complete documentation. There can be seasonal backlog during the RBI scheme, but if there are no missing documents, we can plan the time frame of the successful processes, according to the law. Regarding the residency by investment program, the due diligence process takes three months. Meanwhile, to obtain the Maltese passport through the citizenship scheme takes one year.

 

What are the main differences between both programs? Do they provide the same potential tax benefits?

Answer: Naturally, the legal status of a resident and a citizen is different. In Malta, the not domiciled residents enjoy tax exemption on their not remitted foreign-sourced income. Meanwhile, the citizens of Malta can live where they want and can become tax residents in other countries so that they can decide their tax requirements.

 

Apart from the financial requirements, do the programs have different requirements regarding the eligibility criteria?

Answer: No, the applicants must meet the same conditions, the "Fit and Proper" due diligence check of Malta is strict and serves as a role model internationally for the other investor's immigration schemes.

 

Does the RBI program have any particular requirements over the minimum annual income?How much has to be added per dependent?

Answer:

In the case of the Malta Residence & Visa Program, the applicant must prove an annual income of not less than €100,000 arising outside Malta or must have a capital of minimum €500,000. Meanwhile, the eligibility criteria for the Individual Investor Programme is that all applicants and each dependent must have a global health insurance coverage of at least €50,000and must provide evidence that they can maintain it for an indefinite period.

 

How many dependents are allowed by both programs?

Answer:

Under the Malta IIP:

  • A child, including an adopted child, of the main applicant, or of the spouse of the main applicant, who is less than 18 years of age;
  • A child of the main applicant, or of the spouse of the main applicant, who is between 18 and 26 years of age, who is not married, and who proves that he/she is wholly maintained or supported by the main applicant;
  • A parent or grandparent of the main applicant, or of the spouse of the principal applicant, who is over 55 years of age, and proves that he/she is wholly maintained or supported by the main applicant, and forms part of the household of the main applicant;
  • A child of the main applicant, or of the spouse of the principal applicant, who is at least 18 years of age, is physically or mentally challenged, and who is living with and is fully supported by the primary applicant.

Meanwhile, under the MVRP Program, the following dependents of the primary applicant may participate:

  • The spouse of the principal applicant in a monogamous marriage or in another relationship having a similar status to marriage, unless the Minister authorizes otherwise on a case by case basis.
  • A child, including an adopted child, of the principal applicant or of his spouse who at the time of application, is less than eighteen years of age.
  • A child, including an adopted child, of the principal applicant or of his or her spouse, who at the time of application is not yet born or not yet adopted by the principal applicant or by his spouse, and is born or becomes so adopted after the appointed day.
  • A child, including an adopted child, of the principal applicant or of his spouse, who at the time of application is adult (over eighteen years of age), not married, and proves that at the time of application he or she is not economically active and is principally dependent on the main applicant.
  • A parent or grandparent is eligible, who proves that at the time of application, that he or she is not economically active and is principally dependent on the principal applicant.
  • An adult child of the primary applicant or the spouse of the principal applicant who has been certified by a medical professional/authority as having a disability.

 

What are the financial requirements for the CBI program?

Answer:

The primary applicant has the following financial requirements during the naturalization process under the Malta IIP:

  1. Donate €650,000 to the NDSF (National Development and Social Fund)
  2. Invest in stocks, bonds or other special purpose vehicles qualified by Identity Malta, for at least €150,000
  3. Purchase a residential real estate with a minimum value of €350,000, or lease a residential real estate in Malta for five years, at an annual rent of at least €16,000
  4. Get a global health insurance coverage of at least €50,000, for all named applicants.

 

How much has to be added to the contribution per dependent?

Answer:

  • Spouse: €25,000
  • Each dependent child 0-17 years: €25,000
  • Each dependent between 18-26 years, single and financially dependent on the primary applicant: €50,000
  • Each dependent aged 55 or over, residing with the main applicant and financially dependent on the applicant: €50,000

 

What is the minimum investment term? Can I sell my property after that term without buying/leasing a new one? Is it the same with the RBI program?

Answer: The citizens must maintain the investments (bonds + real estate ownership or rental) for five years. Regarding the residency by investment program, the investor must keep the investment for at least five years either until he or she becomes a citizen or decides to change the resident status.

 

What are the associated fees to apply for the CBI program?

 

Answer:

Due Diligence Fees:

  • Principal applicant: €7,500
  • Spouse: €5,000
  • Each Dependent child aged 0-17: €3,000
  • Each Dependent aged 18-26: €5,000
  • Each Dependent aged 55 or above: €5,000.

 

What are the financial requirements of the RBI program?

Answer:

  • Investments in highly reliable Maltese government bonds of €250,000, for 5 years
  • Contribution to the State Fund of Malta in the amount of €30,000.
  • Purchase or rent a property in Malta for residential use.
  • Purchase: not less than €320,000 for a property situated in the North of Malta, or €270,000 for a property located in Gozo or the South of Malta.
  • Rental: €12,000 per annum for a property situated in Malta; or €10,000 per annum for a property located in Gozo or the south of Malta)

 

Do the RBI program's contribution and fees cover the whole family?

Answer:

The €30,000 contribution covers the main applicant, spouse, and children of the main applicant/spouse at the application stage. A further contribution of €5,000 is applicable for every parent or grandparent of the main applicant or spouse at the application stage.

 

What are the associated fees to apply for the RBI program?

Answer:

There is a non-refundable due diligence fee of €5,500.

 

How much of the total investment must be paid with the application in both cases? Do I have to pay for the property, make the contribution, and invest in bonds before applying or only after receiving an approval?

Answer: As an official agent of the Maltese investor's immigration programs, we help the clients to prepare the proper documents for the application. For the citizenship program the investor must also transfer the professional fees, the government due diligence fees, a non-refundable contribution of €10,000 as a partial payment of the NDSF contribution in exchange for the Letter of Approval in Principle". Within four months of the Letter of Approval in Principle, proof must be submitted to Identity Malta that the applicant completed the real estate purchase or fulfilled the lease, as well as completed the requisite €150,000 investment required by law. Once the Letter of Approval in Principle has been issued, Malta Immigration will be able to grant the applicant and family members a National Visa (for a period 90 days). It allows them to visit Malta to take the Oath of Allegiance, complete any property viewings to purchase and provide their biometric data (fingerprints and iris scan). If the applicant met all the conditions, within two years but not earlier than six months from the date of the application, the authority issues the Certificate of Naturalization, which is needed to obtain the passports.

For the residency, a non-refundable €5,500 fee must be paid. When the Letter of Approval in Principle is issued, the €24,500 contribution is due.

 

Is the donation to the NDSF refundable?

Answer: Donation is not refundable.

 

Are the RBI beneficiaries required to live in Malta for a determinate time per year?

Answer: The minimum number of days to be spent in Malta is not specified.

 

Must the CBI applicants live in Malta before, during, and after the application?

Answer:

The minimum number of days to be spent in Malta is not specified. Citizens of Malta can live, work or stay, wherever they want to.

 

In which steps of the process, the applicant must be physically present in Malta (in both programs)?

 

Answer:

During the process, the applicants must visit Malta to provide their biometric data, and they must personally pick up the passports.

 

Are the names of those approved in the CBI program published somewhere?

Answer:

The Government of Malta every year publishes the names of all foreign citizens who naturalized for citizenship in the official Gazette. The Gazette publishes the names of all naturalized citizens and IIP citizens combined in December of the following year.

 

Does Malta recognize dual citizenship? Can citizenship be revoked?

Answer:

Malta recognizes dual citizenship since 2000.

Yes, the Maltese citizenship can be lost through deprivation if:

  • The citizenry was acquired using fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact.
  • The citizen has shown himself or herself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards the President or the Government of Malta.
  • The citizen engaged, unlawfully traded either communicated with an enemy or associated with any business motivated by the willingness to assist an enemy in a war.
  • The citizen has, within seven years after becoming naturalized as a Maltese citizen, been sentenced to a punishment of not less than twelve months in prison.

The citizen has been ordinarily resident in foreign countries for a continuous period of seven years. During such time, he or she has neither been in the service of the Republic or of an international organization of which the Government of Malta was a member nor given a notice in writing to the Minister of his or her intention to retain citizenship of Malta.

 

Malta has one of the stringiest due diligence processes among the CBI and RBI programs. How can Discus Holdings guarantee success to their clients? What's your success rate in Malta?

Answer:

Our headquarters is in Malta; we are a local company there with the experience of long years. Our success rate is 100% because our clients must go through a strict preliminary due diligence check. It is our responsibility to prepare the documents and the applicants for the process, and we do our job very well.

 

Is Discus Holdings a government-licensed service provider in Malta?

Answer:

Naturally, Discus Holdings was among the first immigration and investment consultancies to obtain the license from the government, you can check it on the official list of service providers in the relevant section of the Identity Malta's website.

 

What do you offer over other providers in Malta? Why should a client pick Discus Holdings?

Answer:

Most of our competitors entered the citizenship and residency by investment sector only a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, our colleagues have more than 25 years of experience. Even before the trend of obtaining second citizenship started, we have been already one of the leading European company forming and tax planning service providers in Central Europe. We have the contacts, and we are official agents of the programs. We take the success of your application personally. Ask for a free consultation to check the quality of our service.

Want to get in touch with our experts for the CBI program in Malta? Enquire now!

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