The SPA has been enacted in Maltese law through the transposition of Directive 2011/98 of the 13th of December 2011 which requires Member States of the European Union (EU) to implement administrative procedures to enable non-EU nationals to obtain both work and residency permits through a single application. Additionally, beneficiaries of the SPA are also able to travel freely to all Member States of the EU.
Prior to the introduction of the SPA, third country nationals (TCN) wishing to work in Malta were required to submit an application for an employment licence (work permit) with the Employment and Training Corporation. If the request has been acceded to, the applicants would then be required to apply for a residence permit at the Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs in order that the said authorisation would be reflected on the said permit. In accordance with the provisions of these Regulations, the Director of Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs is legally responsible for the processing of applications for work/residence permits. Accordingly, there is no requirement for applicants to submit, as was previously the case, a separate application for an employment licence.
In general terms, the SPA strictly applies to all non-EU nationals. However, in terms of the Directive, the following persons may not benefit under the SPA:
1. applicants who are family members of EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizens who have exercised, or are exercising, their right to free movement;
2. applicants who are posted workers for as long as they are posted;
3. applicants who have applied for admissions or have been admitted to Malta to work as intra-corporate transferees;
4. applicants who are authorised to reside in a Member State of the EU on the basis of temporary protection or have applied for authorisation to reside on that basis and are awaiting a decision on their status;
5. applicants who are beneficiaries of international protection;
6. applicants who are beneficiaries of protection in accordance with national law or practice, or international obligations, or have applied for protection in accordance with national law or practice, or international obligations, and whose application has not given rise to a final decision;
7. applicants who enjoy EC long-term resident status in a Member State, including Malta, of the European Union;
8. applicants who have applied for admission or who have been admitted to Malta as self-employed workers;
9. applicants who have applied for admission or have been admitted as sea farers for employment or work in any capacity on board a ship registered in or sailing under the flag of a Member State of the EU;
10. applicants who have been admitted to Malta for the purpose of studies in accordance with the provisions of the Conditions of Admission of Third Country Nationals for the purposes of Studies Regulations;
11. applicants who have been authorised to work in Malta for a period not exceeding six (6) months;
12. applicants who are allowed to work in Malta on the basis of a visa.
The Application Process
Applications may be submitted either while the TCN is residing in Malta or while he or she is abroad. In the event that the applicant is in Malta, the application must be submitted personally as the biometric data needs to be recorded. On the other hand, if the applicant is still residing abroad, the application and all relative documentation would have to be submitted by post.
When the application is received, Identity Malta verifies that all documentation is present and that the fee of €280.50 has been paid. If documentation is complete, the application moves on for processing. Preliminary verifications include checks as to the existence and operations of the company concerned and its staff lists as registered with Employment and Training Corporation (ETC).
The application is then considered from a labour market perspective and certain verifications will be made by ETC, including with health and immigration authorities, as well as other sector-specific authorities, as the case may be. If clearance is withheld from any of these authorities, the application will be rejected and the applicant informed accordingly. If no authority presents an objection, then ETC will pass on the application to the Citizenship and Expatriate Department.
Once ETC clears the application and the above process has been completed the application moves to its final stages.
The Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs will verify and check the application with the Police Authorities and if the request is acceded to the Third Country National will then be issued with a residence permit, also in plastic card format and containing electronic data, which will authorize the applicant to work and reside in Malta in accordance with the conditions indicated on the said residence permit.