2018

Reading Time: 7 min

Malta citizenship for expanding a textile business from Togo to the EU

From the day I started my textile company, I knew we would someday export to Europe. All the production was explicitly modelled to comply with strict EU requirements.

Once we were finally big enough to enter the international market, I began to search for opportunities to scale up. But, being an entrepreneur from a developing country, I concluded that I needed a second passport to proceed smoothly.

Christophe

Christophe, 45

Entrepreneur with an export business

Clients’ names and photos have been changed

Malta citizenship for business

Malta citizenship for expanding a textile business from Togo to the EU

Why Christophe’s family needed second citizenship

Business expansion to Europe. Christophe's business focuses on sustainable and ethical production of high-quality textiles. All the production processes were created to one day enter the EU market and align with its high sustainability requirements. 

When the company was ready to start obtaining certifications and exporting to the EU, Christophe often travelled to Europe to meet potential clients.

The limitations of short-term visas to the EU countries and the time-consuming process of obtaining them made Christophe consider residency or citizenship in an EU country.

Charity funding from international investors. Jacqueline, Christophe’s wife, works for a charity supporting orphanages in Togo. Part of her job is attracting foreign funds and investments. While most of her job can be done remotely, there have been several times when she couldn’t attend important sector events because of visa issues.

Full access to education in the EU. The last straw that convinced Christophe that his family needed a second citizenship or residence in Europe was when his daughter, Chantal, faced rejection for a student visa to the Netherlands.

Chantal had been accepted into a Dutch university for her undergraduate studies and had begun the process of getting a student visa. One of the visa requirements was to show proof of accommodation in the same city as her university.

Chantal found an apartment remotely and had Christophe pay for it. She submitted the rental agreement to the consulate along with her other visa papers. Unfortunately, the consulate discovered that the rental agreement was invalid, indicating that Chantal had fallen victim to a scam. Her visa application was rejected, putting her education in question.

After that incident, Christophe started researching residency and second citizenship options. He soon realised he needed professional assistance in choosing and applying for the right option for his family.

Christophe learned about Immigrant Invest through friends and scheduled a meeting with one of our lawyers.

Looking through citizenship and residence options in Europe

Cristophe’s main requirements were the following:

  • obtain a status that would allow him to register a business in Europe;

  • secure visa-free travels for him and his family — mainly to Europe, but preferably across the world;

  • provide an opportunity for Christophe’s daughter to study at any EU university.

The main dealbreaker for Christophe would be the requirement to move to the country. The investor was unwilling to move and wanted Togo to stay at his family’s primary home.

Viable options. Considering Christophe’s wishes, Immigrant Invest lawyers offered him the following options:

  1. Malta citizenship by investment. The option required a minimum investment of €1,150,000. Investors used to obtain citizenship in 12—14 months.

  2. Residence by investment in Portugal. The program implied an investment of at least €250,000 in real estate, business projects, or securities. With this option, Christophe and his family would become EU citizens in at least 5 years.

  3. The Greece Golden Visa allowed investors to obtain residency by investing at least €250,000 in real estate or securities. Golden Visa investors wait for 7 years to get citizenship in Greece.

All three options would provide Christophe with visa-free access to Europe without obliging him to move to the country permanently.

Malta Individual Investor Program closed in 2020

From 2020, it is impossible to obtain citizenship by investment in Malta. Instead, foreigners can now obtain a passport only by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.

5 reasons why the investor preferred Malta citizenship

Residence in Portugal or Greece would be a better option since programs require only a fraction of the Malta program’s investment. However, there are important nuances.

1. Citizenship waiting time and exams. Residency by investment in Greece or Portugal could lead to citizenship. But, to be eligible for a Greece passport, the investor must move to the country and live there for 7 years. For that reason, this option was decided to be invalid.

Portugal Golden Visa investors can obtain citizenship without moving to the state. However, they need to learn Portuguese and prepare for an exam on the country’s history and culture. Also, citizenship is available to foreigners only after 5 years of holding a residence permit.

Christophe would get access to the advantages of Malta citizenship in around a year without the need to pass language or other exams.

2. Real estate investment amount. After looking into real estate options, Christophe realised that the final investment amount would be far from the program’s minimal requirement.

If choosing Portugal, Christophe would invest in real estate that he could potentially rent out. That meant he would need to buy an apartment in a popular place like Lisbon or Porto. According to the program’s rules, the minimal investment should be at least €500,000 when investing in new properties in those areas.

In Malta, the family could purchase a property for €350,000.

3. Education opportunities. Residency in an EU country allows one to study full term only at universities in that state. If Chantal were to obtain residency in Portugal or Greece, she would still have to get a visa to go to the Dutch university she chose.

Malta citizenship grants the right to study in Malta or any other EU state without needing student visas.

4. Travel freedom. While having a European residence permit and waiting to apply for citizenship, the family could travel visa-free only across the 26 Schengen states. That could be enough, but the Maltese passport would immediately grant them the ability to travel to over 160+ countries visa-free.

5. Tax benefits. Another factor that attracted Christophe to Malta’s program was the country’s tax system. While the standard corporate tax rate in Malta is 35%, Christophe’s company, as a commerce business, would qualify for a tax refund of 6/7.

Comparison of Christophe’s options

Terms

Years to citizenship

1—1.5

5

7

Citizenship exams

No

Yes

Yes

Investments

€1,150,000+, 
including €350,000+ in real estate

€500,000+ in new real estate in Lisbon or Porto

€250,000+

Studies in any EU state

Yes

No, only in Portugal

No, only in Greece

Visa-free countries

160+, including the Schengen Area and the USA

26 Schengen countries

26 Schengen countries

Tax benefits for businesses

Yes

Yes, but only in Madeira

No

After a week of consideration, Christophe decided to invest more but get citizenship faster. So, the Immigrant Invest team started preparing to apply for Malta citizenship by investment.

Details on obtaining Malta citizenship by investment

Malta's citizenship program required its participants first to hold a residence permit for at least a year. Only after that could they apply for their passports.

Christophe and his family managed to obtain their passports in around 15 months.

1

March 16th, 2018

Preliminary Due Diligence

Before signing a Services Agreement with a client, Immigrant Invest checks if the program is a good fit for the investor to reduce the risk of rejection.

A Compliance Anti-money Laundering Officer confirmed that Christophe and his family were eligible for the program.

2

+2 weeks

Obtaining Police Clearance Certificates

The first step in obtaining Malta citizenship by investment was getting the Police Clearance Certificates. Immigrant Invest received them for family members in two weeks.

3

+2 weeks

Real estate purchase, €390,000

Before getting citizenship, Christophe, Jaqueline, and Chantal had to obtain residency permits. The investor had to rent an apartment for one year or purchase real estate.

Christophe chose to purchase real estate and later registered that purchase as part of the investment for citizenship.

He arrived in Malta on a Schengen visa and, with Immigrant Invest real estate specialists, found a suitable 3-bedroom apartment in Valletta for €390,000.

The lawyers checked the documents and conducted the purchase deal.

4

+2 weeks

Getting residence permits in Malta, €25,580

Once the accommodation condition was fulfilled, we started preparing the documents for the residence permit application.

Christophe secured medical insurance for himself, his wife, and his daughter so the whole family could obtain Schengen visas and join him in Malta. The insurance cost the investor €600 per person.

On the residence permit acquisition stage, investors are required to make the first part of the non-refundable contribution to Malta’s National Development Fund. The total sum of contributions is €700,000 for a family of three, but at this point, Christophe had to pay only €10,000.

Aside from that, the investor paid:

  • €600 in administrative fees;

  • €7,000 for residence card issuance;

  • €6,000 for translation of documents;

  • €180 for medical examination.

Once all the payments were made, Immigrant Invest lawyers prepared the documents and filled in the application forms. When everything was ready, the lawyers accompanied the family to the Identity Malta Agency, where they submitted their fingerprints and residency applications.

One week later, the family received their residence permit cards.

5

+1 month

Preparing documents for citizenship application

Once the permits were ready, the 12-month countdown to citizenship application began. Meanwhile, Immigrant Invest lawyers were preparing the documents for Due Diligence.

The lawyers collected an exhaustive package of documents, including the investor’s CV, wealth history, tax declarations, and social credit reports. The lawyers also prepared a letter explaining why Chantal’s student visa was rejected.

6

+4 months

Due Diligence, €15,700

Once all the documents were ready, we submitted them for the background check. Due Diligence is a thorough examination of an investor’s history that takes at least 3 months.

Christophe signed the required forms and paid Due Diligence fees:

  • €7,500 for himself;

  • €5,000 for Jacqueline;

  • €3,000 for Chantal;

  • €200 state fee for the whole family.

During the Due Diligence check, our lawyers received one minor document request from the authorities concerning Chantal’s visa. We responded to that request within 2 days.

Immigrant Invest received an approval letter 4 months after submitting the documents for Due Diligence.

7

+3 weeks

Fulfilling the investment conditions, €841,500

After Due Diligence approval, the investor had 20 days to fulfil the rest of the investment conditions:

  • €640,000 non-refundable contribution to the national fund for himself;

  • €50,000 contribution for Jacqueline and Shantal;

  • €150,000 purchase of government bonds.

Aside from that, he paid €1,500 in fees.

8

+4 months

Applying for citizenship and submitting biometrics in Malta

Exactly one year after receiving residence permits, Christophe, accompanied by Immigrant Invest lawyers, applied for Malta citizenship. The lawyers prepared a package of documents for the application, consisting of the investor’s papers and those proving the investments.

Two weeks after submitting the documents, Christophe and his family were invited to submit fingerprints and take the Oath of Allegiance.

9

+4 days

Collecting passports

After receiving a notification from Identity Malta, Christophe and his family went to the agency in person to obtain their passports.

Malta citizenship benefits the whole family

Once Christophe got his Maltese residency permit, he could start working on expanding his business to Malta: he registered his company and started communicating with partners.

By the time the investor’s passport was ready, Christophe already obtained the certifications necessary to import textiles to the EU. Besides, he was finalising his partnership agreements with two niche clothing designers in Europe.

When Christophe started the citizenship acquisition process, Chantal postponed her studies for a year. That way, she wouldn’t have to worry about visas or permits. She wrote a letter to the university, and they agreed to accept her in one year. Once she obtained her passport, Chantal took off to the Netherlands.

With a Maltese residence permit, Jacqueline could travel across Europe and make valuable acquaintances with international charity organisations. When the family got Malta citizenship a year later, Jacqueline could also travel to the USA without a visa.

In 2023, Christophe and Jacqueline permanently reside in Togo and use their Malta passport for frequent business trips worldwide. Chantal has gotten her Bachelor’s degree and is pursuing her Master’s. After finishing her studies, the whole family plans to go on a three-month-long European vacation, starting with Malta.

This case was provided by our expert

Frederick Ellul
Frederick Ellul

Lawyer and Immigrant Invest's partner in Malta

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