Home Travel & Adventure Government Urged to Reform Citizenship Laws to Reflect Malta’s Changing Social Landscape

Government Urged to Reform Citizenship Laws to Reflect Malta’s Changing Social Landscape


Malta’s current citizenship law, which allows naturalisation, is unfairly leaving long-term residents dependent on the Home Affairs Minister’s mercy, according to Monique Agius’s study part of her Bachelor’s in Law dissertation.

The research emphasises the unclear criteria for those wishing to be naturalised, in comparison to citizenship acquired through the Citizenship by Investment scheme, known as the Golden Passport program, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

The study suggests that the naturalisation regime needs to be either overhauled by introducing objective and legal criteria or by issuing detailed guidelines similar to those in the United Kingdom.

In Absence of Legal Reform, Lawyers Urged to Resort to Judicial Review for Citizenship Applicants

Agius told the Times of Malta that if the laws remain unchanged, lawyers representing people who want to apply should use the judicial review process more often.

She said that Malta’s social reality has changed, stressing that laws should reflect such a change. According to her, the country is no longer a country of emigration, but one of immigration.

By changing the naturalisation regime to include, rather than exclude aliens within Maltese society, not only facilitates their journey but allows them to partici­pate more actively within the Maltese polity.

Monique Agius, author of the study

In 2021, when she was gathering data for her dissertation, she found that 22 per cent of Malta’s population of 519,562 were non-Maltese, thus accounting for a five-fold increase than in 2011.

Her study was focused on how people become citizens by living in Malta, including those who moved there by choice, refugees, people whose asylum requests were denied, and their children born in Malta.

According to her, while the law specifies the number of years that a person would need to have resided in Malta, the remaining criteria are not quantifiable.

How do you quantify ‘adequate knowledge of Maltese or English, ‘good character’ and a ‘suitable citizen’? These criteria are broad and vague. On the other hand, applicants for citizenship by direct investment can consult a list that would disqualify a person from obtaining citizenship.

Monique Agius, author of the study

She has considered that the five-year requisite is a minimum standard, stressing that in practice, refugees and people with subsidiary protection are made to wait for some ten and 20 years, in spite of there not being any distinctions based on the legal status of the applicant law.

According to the study conducted by Agius, a European Convention on Nationality that Malta signed in 2003 but has yet not ratified would permit people residing here the right to apply after ten years in Malta.

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