The success of Malta’s Individual Investor Program (IIP) last year has led industry experts to predict strong demand for the scheme in 2015 as well. So far the program has received more than 400 applications from about 40 countries and has earned more than €450 million (US$ 530million) as foreign direct investment since it was launched in early 2014.
The Maltese government has already issued the first letters of citizenship approval-in-principle and certificates of naturalization will be issued to qualifying candidates as soon as their investments and other contributions are completed.
Reflecting the attraction of the country to investor immigrants, InternationalLiving.com’s annual global retirement index of 2015 has named Malta as one of the top ten retirement destinations in the world, with the country’s low crime rate and good weather earning it the seventh rank in the index.
According to Henley and Partners, most applicants using Malta’s IIP come from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, China, Russia and South East Asia. The investor program requires interested foreign nationals to make a minimum investment of at least €350,000 in a real estate property for a period of least five years or rent a house with a minimal rental of €16,000 a year over the same duration. In addition, they are required to put €650,000 in Malta’s National Development and Social Fund along with a few other investments and obligations.
“The level of interest remains strong and we are pleased to see that many of the early applicants are now starting to make ancillary investments (outside of the Individual Investor Program) within the country. This will lead to further increased inward investment and the future creation of employment in Malta,” says Andrew Taylor, Vice-Chairman of Henley and Partners.
It is estimated that the foreign direct investment generated via IIP through real estate purchases and investments in bonds, deposits, and other tools, amounts to about €8.5 million per week.
Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, has called Malta’s IIP as “the only citizenship-by-investment program which is sanctioned by the European Commission”.
“Success lies in innovation. We believe that the concept of citizenship is fast evolving, and we want to be at the forefront of this innovation. That is why we came out with the ground-breaking Individual Investor Program,” he said at a seminar in 2014.
“It can be explained in one word: talent. We want to enhance our competitiveness by increasing our talent pool and by increasing our global network. We believe that these are the new borders of a brave new world.”
Frank Salt Real Estate, one of the leading real estate agencies in Malta, has reported increasing demand for purchase of properties for permanent residency or citizenship from foreign investors. In 2014, almost 46% of the agency’s customers were foreigners, a third of who were interested in buying properties under the IIP scheme. The agency says it foresees a strong demand in 2015 as well.
Malta’s IIP has been designed to specifically attract ultra-high net worth people from around the world. The program, which is accepting up to 1,800 applicants, follows strict due diligence standards. Once the cap is reached, the program will be closed.
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