What is a work permit?
Third Country Nationals who wish to work and reside in Malta for a set period of time have to submit a single work permit application and all supporting documentation.
The single work application encompasses two procedures in one, that of a work permit and that of an e-residence card, granting temporary residence based on the employment of the individual.
Applications can be submitted either whilst the Third Country National is residing in Malta or whilst s/he is abroad.
In this respect, it is important to keep in mind that a work permit is issued in respect of Third Country Nationals who work with a specific employer to perform a specific job. Therefore, the employee cannot use the license to take up a different job, or to work for a different employer even on a part-time basis. All employment licences are, in general, issued for a maximum duration of one year and can be renewed upon request of the Third Country National.
Moreover, a new single work permit application can be submitted by Third Country Nationals only when the previous licence has expired or has been cancelled by the previous employer.
Who has to apply for a work permit?
All foreign nationals require authorisation to work in Malta, with the exception of:
- citizens from the EU/EEA/Switzerland their family members (i.e.: the spouse, the direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependents, and those of the spouse, the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line and those of the spouse); or
- other family members (i.e.: a person who, irrespective of his/her nationality, in the country from which he/she has come, is a dependent or a member of the household of the Union citizen having the primary right of residence, or a person who, for serious health reasons, strictly requires personal care by the Union citizen, or the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship).
At present, applications for an employment license in respect of citizens from Croatia and their family members are subject to transitional arrangements.
In this respect, it is important to keep in mind that single work permit applications are, generally, subject to labour market considerations by the Authority including, amongst other, the national situation in respect of surpluses or shortages in the given occupation and sector; the employer’s history and situation in terms inter alia of recruitment and redundancy patterns; business investments; and contractual commitments.
The Third Country National’s skill level, relevant experience and overall suitability for the position in question are also taken into account.
Who does not need a work permit?
The following categories of employees do not need to apply for a work permit in order to reside and work in Malta:
- family members of Union citizens, EEA/Swiss citizens who have exercised, or are exercising, their right to free movement;
- posted employees for as long as they are posted (i.e.: workers who have an employment relationship with an employer based in an European country other than Malta, but who are sent to work in Malta for a set period of time);
- employees who will not normally or habitually be carrying out work in Malta, such as seasonal workers or au pairs (i.e.: at present, “normally and habitually working and residing in Malta” means half the requested duration of the employment license);
- foreign national non-resident and non-executive directors (directors who do not ordinarily reside in Malta, who do not have an employment relationship with the company and who may be in receipt of a director’s remuneration but not in receipt of a salary).
The Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the “DCEA”) is legally responsible for the processing of applications with respect to work and residence permits and thus, the Single Permit Application needs to be submitted to this Authority.
However, the related process is conducted by means of internal arrangements between ETC and DCEA.
The applicant has to fill in the relevant application form which needs to be duly signed by the same applicant and endorsed by the prospective employer.
If incomplete, the application is returned to the applicant. If documentation is complete, the application moves on for processing. Work permits are usually issued within three months following the date of submission.
If the application is not accepted, a rejection letter should be issued within 15 working days from the date on which the same application has been submitted.
What about self-employed?
In respect of Third Country Nationals, an employment licence is required and is only granted in exceptional cases.
In particular, in order to qualify for self-employed status, a Third Country National must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Invest in Malta capital expenditure of at least Eur500,000, within 6 months from the date on which the employment licence is issued.
- Highly skilled innovators with a sound business plan to be submitted with the application who commit to recruiting at least three EEA/Swiss/Maltese Nationals within 18 months of establishment;
- A person leading a project that has been formally approved by Malta Enterprise and formally notified by the latter to the Employment&Training Corporation-ETC.
On the other hand, EEA/Swiss nationals (including Croatian citizens) and their Third Country Nationals “family members” or “other family members”, may take up self-employment in Malta without the need for an employment licence, although they must still send an Engagement Form to ETC.