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Governance of Migrant Integration in Malta

After nearly a century of emigration, Malta started hosting humanitarian migrants from Iraq and former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As of 2002, amidst negotiations for its accession to the European Union which became effective in 2004, the number of asylum seekers drastically increased. They mostly came from Libya and Syria in the recent years.


Foreign population in MaltaOn 1 January 2017, 15 407 non-EU foreigners were legally residing in Malta. They represented 3% of the total population. 8 995 had temporary residence permits mainly issued for remunerated activities, education and family reasons.

Most first residence permits issued in 2016 were granted to Serbian, Libyans and Filipinos who constitute the country’s third largest foreign community after British and Italian citizens.


No aggregated data on Maltese citizens with third country background are made available.

Integration Strategy

Malta adopted its first integration strategy, Integration = Belonging, in December 2017. The strategy foresees the launch of the current national integration programme called I Belong and integration unit of the Ministry of European Affairs and Equality. It further announced the revamp of the national integration portal launched up in 2014 as well as put emphasis on the importance of equality and anti-discrimination mainstreaming across ministries and governance levels, and a person-to-person approach of integration.

Integration Programme

The I Belong Programme was launched in July 2018. It is free and voluntary, and can be followed by all Third Country Nationals upon their formal application. Migrants who lodge a request for integration but do not reach the final stage nor obtain a positive assessment will have their integration process stopped but will not lose any benefits achieved. Those who do not lodge an application would be subject to general rights and obligations under the Maltese law and would not benefit from dedicated support.

The Programme comprises two stages: The Pre-Integration Certificate and the Qualification for Permanent Residence Status. The first is awarded to successful participants of accredited Maltese or English classes and basic cultural and societal orientation courses (MQF Level 1), as well as a positive assessment of qualifications, work experience and skills. This initial stage is a requisite for the Qualification for Permanent Residence Status which is open to persons who wish to apply for permanent residence in Malta. This second stage entails:

  • a course of at least 100 hours on social, economic, cultural and political history of Malta, with a special focus on the Constitution, democratic values and practical sessions;
  • an exam in Maltese (MQF Level 2) which candidates are required to pass with a minimum mark of 65%. Applicants are assigned a caseworker from the Integration Unit for counsel and support. Requirements may also be tailored to the qualifications of the applicants, in conjunction with experts in the relative fields.

☑ language courses

☑ civic education

☒ vocational training

Detailed information about the content of the free programme will be provided to migrants by the Integration Unit and cultural mediators. The Action Plan also foresees the development of an app that will contain updated information.


No national evaluation of Maltese policies for migrants integration nor assessment of integration outcomes of migrants living in Malta has been conducted so far. However, the 2017 Action Plan foresees quarterly monitoring reports and annual evaluation reports of the plan and its actions.


☑   Foreigners Law

Malta’s Immigration Act was first adopted in 1970 and has been amended more than 20 times. The latest changes were made through the Act 36 of 2015 which mainly covers administrative requirements for the issuance of residence permits and the return of TCNs. Dozens of subsidiary legislations regulate specific groups or areas of immigration.

☑   Asylum Law

The Maltese Asylum Law enacted on 1 October 2001 establishes procedures and requirements related to the application for and granting of international protection. It has 8 subsidiary legislations dealing with reception, temporary protection and subsidiary protection, etc.

☒   Integration Law

Malta does not have a self-standing integration law.

☑   Nationality Law

The Citizenship Act of 1964 was last amended with the Act 24 of in August 2017 which introduces new possibilities for athletes, artists and scientists to be granted the Maltese citizenship for ‘exceptional reasons’. It has 3 subsidiary legislations.

☑   Anti-discrimination

There are 4 non-discrimination subsidiary legislations (SL) regulating specific themes. SL 350.26 of 2007 promotes racial equality under the Broadcasting Act. SL 452.95 of 2004 establishes equal treatment under the Employment and Industrial Relations Act. SL 460.16 and SL 460.16 of 2007 provide for equal treatment under the European Union Act. Further amendments to the equality legislation are being discussed.

Public authorities

The Human Rights and Integration Directorate of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality (previous Ministry for Social Dialogue and Civil Liberties) leads the governance of integration issued in Malta. It is responsible for creating dialogue with social partners and civil society, and promoting civil liberties, equality and anti-discrimination. Its main goal is to ensure that ‘everybody belongs’. It does so by preventing discrimination, segregation and ghettos. The Directorate also oversees the day-to-day implementation of the integration strategy. It therefore processes integration applications, supports migrants in their integration, enhances services, provides training, raises awareness and works on community building.

In addition, the Third Country Nationals Directorate within the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security provides legal aid to asylum seekers.

Due to their limited political and financial power, the main task of local authorities is to promote initiatives put forward by national actors and the civil society.

Civil society

A Forum on Integration Affairs (FIA) advises the Government on migrant integration-related solutions, necessary amendments to legislations and policies, and improvement of services since 2015. Appointed by the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, it includes representatives from migrant community organisations active in Malta.


Non-profit organisations and local authorities in Malta can apply for financial support for migrant and refugee integration through several EU funds, including the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, European Social Fund and Erasmus+.

The Active Citizens Fund of the EEA Financial Mechanism and national and private funds are available to service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming to improve integration of the migrant population. Other public and private funds are also available.

☑   EU Funds

  • Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in Malta


The national allocation for Malta under AMIF during the 2014 to 2020 period has been € 20,873,236. Excluding technical assistance, approximately 70% of AMIF funding is allocated to asylum, 21% to integration, 8% to return and 1% to solidarity. The national integration priorities outlined in the Maltese AMIF Programme (2014-2020) include:

Creating an Integration Unit within the Ministry of European Affairs and Equality, which was set up in 2017

Increasing the number of language courses, which was implemented through the I Belong Programme that launched in 2018

Training the immigration police and reception centre on the rights of vulnerable persons

National managing authority

The national managing authority for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in Malta is the Funds and Programmes Division (FPD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality.

  • European Social Fund (ESF) in Malta


Funds committed under ESF in Malta for the 2014-2020 period reached a total of € 137.9 million at the end of 2018, with over € 40 million of the total amount allocated to social inclusion measures.

National managing authority

The national managing authority for the European Social Fund (ESF) in Malta is the Planning and Priorities Co-ordination Division (PPCD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality.

  • Other EU funds for integration available in Malta

ERASMUS+, the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe

National managing authority: Funds and Programmes Division (FPD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the EU by correcting regional imbalances

National managing authority: Planning and Priorities Co-ordination Division (PPCD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), offering material assistance to the most vulnerable or in need

National managing authority: Funds and Programmes Division (FPD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), supporting the development of rural economies and communities

National managing authority: Funds and Programmes Division (FPD) of the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality

☑   Other Funds

  • Other public funding in Malta

Active Citizens Fund, operated by SOS Malta.

NGO Co-financing fund, administered by the Ministry for Education and Employment

Small Initiatives Support Scheme, managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS)

  • Private funding in Malta

Sources of private funding include the Social Impact Awards, the Gasan Foundation and Inspirasia Foundation.

Other stakeholders

☑   Providing integration services

☑   Implementing Integration Programme

☑   Campaigning

☑   Publishing statistics

☑   Other