The government of Malta is offering work permits to skilled workers outside of Europe, including Nigerians, under the ‘Specialist Employee Initiative’, which offers a fast-track application process for skilled foreign workers in Malta. This comes as the EU state seeks to address its skilled labour shortage.
The government launched the initiative in January to help employers find highly skilled foreign talent and select from a wider pool globally. According to the Times of Malta, all university graduates or those who are qualified in a managerial or technical role earning a minimum of €25,000 annually are eligible to apply.
Malta is in the Schengen area, which is a group of countries that have gotten rid of passport and immigration controls at their common borders. People travelling to and from Schengen areas will not need to have their passports checked at the borders; however, they might need to present other documents to immigration police.
Only nationals of third countries who have a signed contract with a business that is registered in Malta can apply for the SEI.
The Specialist Employee Initiative (SEI) is for highly skilled nationals outside of Europe who possess the necessary academic, vocational, or technical abilities per their employment offer in Malta. The position secured must have an annual gross salary of at least €25,000.
Applicants must either have a relevant bachelor’s degree or higher, relevant educational qualifications (even if such qualifications are lower than a bachelor’s degree) and at least three years of relevant professional experience. Proof of experience must be presented in the form of signed previous employment contracts, stamped employment history and reference letters by former employers.
As a requirement, there must not be any Maltese or EU workers available that could perform the applicant’s role. However, it is not exactly stated how the Maltese government would determine this.
The applicant’s employer must email a completed application along with all necessary attachments as requested. The application portal, Identitá will ask the applicant’s permission before submitting the application and supporting materials.
When the application is received, it will be reviewed, and both the company and the candidate will receive an informational email and an acknowledgement, along with additional instructions on how to pay the application fee during the biometrics stage. The administrative cost of the application is €300.
Applications can be delayed or rejected if any documents are found missing. A checklist is provided during the application to avoid this.
Once a decision is reached on the application, the applicant and employer are informed of the outcome via email.
The standard government processing time for eligible applications is 15 business days from the date of submission.
If an application is successful, a residence permit will be granted to successful applicants for one year in their first year. If the employee remains in compliance with the eligibility criteria and their employment contract applies to all periods of validity, this authorisation may be renewed for an additional period of up to three years.
The SEI serves as an alternate pathway to the older Key Employee Initiative which has a quicker standard government processing time of five business days but tougher eligibility requirements, including a higher minimum gross annual salary of €35,000.