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21 June 2019
Who qualifies as a British citizen under the regulations?
Residence for British citizens in Malta following no-deal Brexit
Family members of British nationals in Malta
British citizens working in Malta following no-deal Brexit
In light of the continuous developments and ambiguity surrounding the Brexit negotiations, as well as the uncertainty facing British citizens who currently reside in EU member states, the Maltese government has propagated the Immigration Status of British Citizens Resident in Malta on the Withdrawal Date of the United Kingdom from the European Union Regulations (SL 217.23 of the Laws of Malta).
Figures published by the Maltese government estimate that there are currently around 13,000 British nationals present in Malta and exercising their EU treaty rights. Considering this, the regulations seek to outline and clarify the residence and employment rights which will be upheld for British citizens who already reside and work in Malta.
The regulations are set to come into force in the event of a no-deal Brexit (ie, if the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union without concluding and entering into a withdrawal agreement regulating the terms of the United Kingdom's departure, which would in and of itself cater for the rights of British nationals in EU member states).
The regulations state that for the purposes of this law and the rights which emanate therein, a British citizen is anyone who holds 'British nationality', as defined in the British Nationality Act.
In this regard, the regulations specifically exclude those persons who hold British nationality status as British overseas nationals, British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, British protected persons and British subjects.
If the United Kingdom and the European Union do not reach a withdrawal agreement, British citizens throughout the European Union are likely to see their immigration and residence status change overnight, and thus face the prospect of having to immediately consider managing their personal and business affairs.
In this regard, the regulations stipulate that should a no-deal Brexit arise, any British citizen who is resident and present in Malta before the withdrawal date, and who satisfies the provisions of the Free Movement of European Union Nationals and their Family Members Order (SL 460.17 of the Laws of Malta) will be entitled to reside in Malta and enjoy free movement into and from Malta.
However, under the new regulations, British citizens who wish to benefit under the new law must provide evidence that they hold sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in Malta and must hold health insurance which will cover them.
In addition, any British citizens who currently benefit under the Residents Scheme Regulations (SL 23.79 of the Laws of Malta) will be entitled to gain residence status under the regulations. However, this right will be granted only if the beneficiary applies for such new status. These applications must be submitted within two years of the withdrawal date under a no-deal Brexit. The beneficiary must also relinquish their certificate under the residents scheme which granted the beneficiary the right to settle, reside or stay in Malta indefinitely.
In such cases, the Malta-issued residence cards which were previously held by British citizens who benefitted under the residents scheme will remain valid until a new residence permit is issued per the regulations. The new residence permits will be valid for 10 years from the withdrawal date and will renew the applicant's status, subject to evidence being provided that the applicant continues to meet the conditions as stipulated in the regulations.
The family members and partners of British citizens who enjoy the right to reside in Malta per the above will also have the right to reside in Malta based on their relationship with said person. However, this right will not be extended to partners and family members of British citizens who establish their relationship subsequent to the withdrawal date. The only exception in this regard will be granted in the case of children born to and adopted by Malta-resident British citizens after the withdrawal date. In the case of persons who have concluded a divorce or separation from a Malta-resident British citizen before the withdrawal date, any such family members who subsequently enjoyed residence rights in Malta per the order will be unaffected.
British citizens who currently hold residence cards issued under the order are permitted to work and reside in Malta as either employed or self-employed persons. Family members of British citizens may also exercise similar rights as a result of their relationship with an EU national. The Maltese government has estimated that there are around 5,000 British nationals currently employed in Malta.
In the case of a no-deal Brexit, the regulations stipulate that British citizens in Malta who are granted and hold resident status under the regulations will be permitted to take up employment or act as self-employed persons in Malta and need not apply for an employment licence in this regard. However, this right is without prejudice to any specific rules and legislation which may apply to regulated professions, and the national requirements applicable to persons who may be appointed in a public office.
Further, British citizens registered under the regulations will enjoy equal treatment to Maltese nationals when they present any diplomas, certificates and professional qualifications in accordance with Maltese legislation; however, this is true only where an application for said recognition is submitted before the withdrawal date.
For further information on this topic please contact Sarah Pace Warrington at Fenech & & Fenech Advocates by telephone (+356 2124 1232) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Fenech & Fenech website can be accessed at www.fenechlaw.com.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
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