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Case Studies 2021

How a couple can get Malta permanent residence if the marriage is not officially registered

We do not plan to register the marriage as we are already a family: we have us, the child, the house and everyday life together.

We want to move to Europe as a family, so we decided to get permanent residence by investment. We were afraid that nothing would come of it without a marriage stamp on the passport. But everything worked out, although additional documents had to be collected.

Olivia and Nathan,
a couple from Toronto
The names and photos of the clients have been changed
Permanent residence in Malta by investment for a couple from Canada

Nathan and Olivia have been living together for 11 years, but have not officially registered their relationship. Further we will refer to them as partners to avoid any ambiguity.

Due to the fact that the marriage was not officially registered, the couple had difficulties in obtaining permanent residence in Malta by investment. Under the terms of the program, the investor can include a spouse in the application. But the relationship is confirmed by documents like a marriage certificate. 

We will tell you how the lawyers helped Nathan and Olivia to obtain Maltese permanent residence and what documents were needed for this.

Why did the couple need a European residence permit?

Nathan is a financial consultant from Toronto. In 2020, he completely switched to a remote work format and thought about leaving with his family for the winter in a country with a warm climate. 

Some countries issue special visas for so-called digital nomads who are specialists working remotely. Nathan could have received such a visa for himself and his family, but he was not satisfied with the visa. The holder of a digital nomad visa can only move to the selected country, and Nathan wanted to be able to travel even in a pandemic.

Nathan's clients are entrepreneurs and top managers of large companies. Some of them had a European residence permit obtained by investment. Nathan also thought about getting status abroad.

I’m tired of the cold and dark of Toronto winters. We have a little child and as autumn begins, my son usually gets sick until summer. So I thought that it makes sense to move away from Toronto if my work allows me to do so. It is necessary to move to a much warmer place by the sea. I also want to travel while my son is still young and school has not started. We have a few years left to not think about dates of school holidays.

Proof of civil partnership
Nathan, 39 years old,
decided to get a European residence permit for himself and his family

Why Nathan chose a permanent residence program in Malta

On March 15th, 2021, Nathan turned to Immigrant Invest for advice. He wanted to choose an investment program in the EU state for three reasons:

  • the right to enter the selected European country, even if the border is closed to tourists;
  • the opportunity to move to the European Union;
  • the opportunity to obtain EU citizenship in the future.

Nathan wanted to get the status together with Olivia and their three-year-old son. He limited the budget for program costs to €200,000.

The Maltese citizenship by naturalization for exceptional services by direct investment was not suitable for the investor due to budget constraints. To apply immediately for a Maltese passport, an applicant needs to invest from €690,000 in the Maltese economy.

Nathan compared the pros and cons of the demanded European programs. He chose permanent residence in Malta as the least costly path to lifelong status in the EU state. To start preparing for the application, he entered into an agreement with Immigrant Invest to participate in the Malta Permanent Residence Program.

Conditions and possibilities of EU residence permit and permanent residence programs

Program, countryInvestmentMandatory residing in the countryTerms of document renewalPerspective of citizenship
Residence permit in Malta€30,000+No, but you cannot spend more than 183 days a year in another countryEvery yearAt least after 7 years
Permanent residence in Malta€110,000+NoOnce in 5 yearsIn 5 years
A residence permit in Greece€250,000+NoEvery yearAfter 7 years, but only for the investor
Residence permit in Portugal€250,000+ Yes, at least 7 days a yearEvery 2 yearsAfter 5 years
Permanent residence in Cyprus€300,000+NoOnce in 5 yearsAfter 5 years
Residence permit in Spain€500,000+ NoEvery yearAfter 10 years, but you need to give up your first citizenship

How to get citizenship in Malta with a partner if the marriage is not registered 

Nathan and Olivia are in a so-called partnership relationship. They have been living together and having a joint budget for 11 years. In 2018, the couple had a child, son Jacob. Both parents are inscribed on his birth certificate. But Nathan and Olivia did not register the relationship with the registry office and they do not have a marriage certificate.

Under the terms of the Maltese permanent residence by investment programme, the investor has the right to include a spouse or partner in the application. A registered marriage is easy to confirm with a certificate from a registry office. If there is no registration, applicants need to prove that they have lived together for several years.

Evgeniya Morozova, Head of the Legal Department in Immigrant Invest
Evgeniya Morozova,
Head of the Legal Department, lawyer, Candidate of Juridical Sciences, Judicial Counsellor of the 3rd Class

To confirm cohabitation, partners provide:

  • statements of joint bank accounts or confirmation of regular money transfers between partners for utility, household and other expenses;
  • confirmation of cohabitation in the form of registration at one address;
  • insurance for cars in which the partner is registered;
  • dated photographs of the couple from different periods;
  • air tickets and travel packages with joint vacations;
  • testimonies of relatives and friends who can confirm the couple's living together.

Nathan and Olivia had a common savings account with a bank, as well as an account with shared access for everyday expenses. The presence of accounts and transfers on them was confirmed by bank statements.

The couple lived together in Toronto: they provided scans of stamps in the passport with the registration address.

The fact that they share a child is also taken into account when confirming the relationship as the partners are confirmed mother and father on the birth certificate. Nathan and Olivia are listed as Jacob's parents, so the couple attached a copy of their son's birth certificate to the rest of the documents.

The lawyers contacted the parents and friends of the couple, who confirmed in writing the long-term relationship between Nathan and Olivia. Throughout their life together, the partners also posted photos on social media, where the publication date is automatically indicated. Lawyers have attached screenshots of the publications to the rest of the documents.

Before the birth of the child, the couple traveled together many times. They kept tickets to the same place for the same date and hotel reservations.

Malta permanent residence

Wealthy people invest in the economy of Malta in order to gain freedom of travel, develop international business and to find a favorable tax regime. Maltese status allows the investor to enter the country even in conditions of closed borders

Malta permanent residence

Malta tax residents pay up to 35% tax on income and are entitled to tax deductions. Malta does not have taxes on gift, inheritance and, in some cases, on property. Many wealthy people are planning to move to Malta in order to transfer assets to the country and optimize taxation 

Malta permanent residence

The state regulates education in Maltese schools: educational institutions receive accreditation from the Ministry for Education. Maltese high school diplomas are accepted in other European Union countries

What other documents are needed to obtain permanent residence

In addition to proof of cohabitation, lawyers have collected a standard package of documents for applying for permanent residence by investment. The list includes:

  • copies of Nathan and Olivia's passports;
  • certificates of no criminal record;
  • higher education diplomas;
  • medical insurance for the whole family with coverage over €30,000;
  • government questionnaires and forms;
  • confirmation of capital;
  • a receipt for payment of Due Diligence fee.

The investor's wealth history is included in the list of required documents. It lists all sources of income and assets owned by the investor, such as real estate and business. 

Only investors who own assets in the amount of €500,000 or more can obtain Maltese permanent residence by investment. Of these, €150,000 must be liquid financial assets.

Nathan had two apartments in Toronto, savings of about €300,000 and a package of securities worth €100,000. These assets were sufficient to participate in the permanent residence program in Malta.

The investor paid an application and Due Diligence fee of €10,000. The payment is made before the application is submitted, and the receipt is attached to the investor's documents.

Preparation of documents took three weeks, taking into account the collection of cohabitation evidence, translation and certification of documents.

3 weeks
to prepare the documents 

Duration of the Due Diligence check in Malta

On April 6th, 2021, the lawyers submitted Nathan’s application to the Residency Malta Agency, which checks investors for reliability. To pass the check, the investor needs to provide a full package of documents, have no criminal record and receive income only from legal sources.

Together with the application and standard documents, the lawyers filed an affidavit, in which they described the couple's situation and explained the marital status of Nathan and Olivia. All evidence of cohabitation was attached to the affidavit.

The Due Diligence at the Residency Malta Agency took six months. The procedure took place without additional requests from the agency. On October 1st, lawyers received a notification that Nathan’s application was approved.

6 months
Due Diligence duration in Malta

Malta has a rigorous Due Diligence that takes six to eight months. In special cases, like Nathan's and Olivia’s, the decision on the application is made not only by the Residency Malta Agency, but also by the Minister for Migration and Citizenship. It can also increase the verification time frame.

To avoid additional requests and get approval in getting Malta citizenship, it is important to immediately prepare a comprehensive set of documents and an affidavit explaining the investor's situation. To do this, we conduct a preliminary check and in advance work out all the questions that the inspectors may have.

Fulfillment of investment conditions

From March 29th, 2021, investors fulfill four investment conditions in order to obtain permanent residence in Malta. Conditions include:

Renting or buying a home
€10,000+ per year if renting
€300,000 if buying
Government fee
€58,000 if renting housing
€28,000 if buying housing
Administrative fee
of which €10,000 are for Due Diligence
Charitable contribution

Accommodation in Malta. Nathan decided to rent a property. Under the terms of the program, the investor must rent a home in Malta for at least five years. If the investor immediately concludes a five-year lease agreement, considering the government contribution, he will still spend almost three times less than on the purchase of housing under the program.

Real estate experts of Immigrant Invest have selected several properties for Nathan to choose from. Nathan decided not to go to Malta to choose a property. Therefore, the specialists of the Maltese office of Immigrant Invest organized a video broadcast for the couple with the display of objects.

Nathan and Olivia liked the apartment in Zabbar. The investor decided to enter into a lease agreement for a year with the possibility of extension up to five years. The lawyers contacted the landlord and checked the terms of the contract. After the deal was concluded, Nathan transferred €12,000 to rent an apartment for a year to the lessor.

Permanent residence in Malta for investment: an example of apartments for rent or purchase
Apartments in a new residential complex in Zabbar, Malta

The apartment is located on the third floor of a five-storey residential complex. The apartment is open plan with a living room, dining room and kitchen. The living room leads to a spacious covered veranda on one side and three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the other. Apartments are rented with furniture, they have air conditioning, TV and high-speed internet. A garage is available for a fee.

rent per year
purchase price
153 m²

Fees and contributions. The investor is given two months to pay the remaining €30,000 of the administration fee and eight months to pay the remaining payments under the program.

Nathan transferred all payments as soon as he received the payment details from the Residency Malta Agency. Taking into account rental housing, contributions and fees, medical insurance and services for the preparation and certification of documents, Nathan spent €117,200 on participation in the program.

the couple spent on obtaining permanent residence in Malta

Lawyers collected receipts for the payment of fees and contributions, a lease agreement and a receipt for the transfer of payment under the agreement. The payment documents were submitted to the Residency Malta Agency as confirmation that the investor has fulfilled the investment conditions of the program.

How Nathan and Olivia submitted biometrics in Malta during the pandemic

Applicants for permanent residence are fingerprinted: biometric data are entered into residents' ID cards. 

The applicants need to submit the biometrics in person at the Residency Malta Agency in Malta. Embassies, consulates and visa centers of Malta in other countries do not provide a fingerprint service for residence permit and permanent residence cards.

The lawyers booked the date and time in advance for the visit to the Maltese agency for October 5th, 2021. As Canadian citizens, Nathan and Olivia are exempt from visa requriments to the Schengen Area. To travel to Malta, the couple needed a vaccination certificate, which is recognized in the European Union.

Nathan and Olivia were vaccinated against the coronavirus with the Pfizer vaccine, which is recognized by all EU countries. They presented vaccination certificates at check-in and passport control in Malta.

From October 1st, 2021, Malta allows entry into the country for tourists with a vaccination certificate. Therefore, Nathan and Olivia did not need to confirm a valid reason for entering Malta from Canada. 

If Malta’s border remained closed to tourists, the couple could present confirmation of their biometrics registration from the Residency Malta Agency. Visiting the immigration office is considered a valid reason to enter the country.

Upon arrival in Malta, the couple also did not have to serve two weeks in a paid quarantine. Holders of vaccination certificates with one of the vaccines approved by the European Union are exempted from it: Pfizer, Mode a, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are accepted.

The Maltese office lawyer of Immigrant Invest met the couple in Valletta and escorted them to the Residency Malta Agency where they were fingerprinted. The next day Nathan and Olivia flew home to Toronto.

Obtaining permanent residence cards and family plans for the future in Europe

The final approval came a month after lawyers confirmed the execution of the investment conditions. The couple received permanent residence cards and naturalization certificates on November 26th, 2021 by mail. Participation in the program took eight and a half months from the date of contacting Immigrant Invest.

March 15, 2021
Applying to Immigrant Invest
+ 3 weeks
Preparation of documents and filing an investor application
+ 6 months
Due Diligence in Malta
+ 2 weeks
Fulfillment of investment conditions
+ 1 day
Submission of biometrics the the Residency Malta Agency
+ 1 month
Final approval from the Residency Malta Agency
+ 1.5 weeks
Issuance and delivery of permanent residence cards to the investor
November 26th, 2021
Obtaining Maltese permanent residence cards

In December Nathan and Olivia moved to Europe. Until the New Year, they stayed in Zabbar in Malta, where even in winter the air temperature did not drop below +15°C. 

In January 2022, the couple is planning a family vacation at a spa resort in Leukerbad, Switzerland. Nathan wants to swim in the outdoor pool with hot thermal water and mountain views, and go skiing. Olivia wants to pamper herself with spa treatments and massages. 

In February Nathan and Olivia will go to Malta again, where they will stay until the end of April. On this visit, the couple expects to visit different cities of the island. Nathan also wants to look for a yacht to purchase. In May, the couple will return to Toronto to visit family, meet friends and plan future travels in Europe.

If the couple enjoys living in Malta, they will spend most of the year on the island. After five years of residence in the country, they will be able to apply for citizenship. A Maltese passport will allow them to live, work, do business and study in any country of the European Union. And also travel to more than 180 countries without visas.

We talked about all the opportunities that Maltese residents receive in the article “What gives permanent residence in Malta”.