Malta had started selling passports in 2014.

Unlike other countries (including UK) that offer residency programs or investor visas to foreigners, Malta’s Individual Investor Program awards full citizenship to successful applicants.

Maltese Citizenship costs a minimum of 880,000 Euros (£800,000; $1m), which rises for each additional family member.

Three quarters of the total cost is a non-refundable contribution to Malta’s National Development and Social Fund, which aids in financing the education, health and job creation projects. The rest is distributed between investments in government bonds and owning or renting a home for at least a period of five years.

Citizenship is being granted by the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis since 1984, however since 2011 Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Cyprus have all launched their own citizenship schemes. The schemes resulted due to the rapid expansion in the area contributed by governments looking for new revenue sources and also because of geopolitical unrest, for instance in the Middle East.

Wealthy people avail such schemes for security concerns as a way of escaping trouble or dramatic political change, however, many simply want to offer opportunities to their children or make it easier to run a business.

One of the strongest selling points of the citizenship scheme is that Malta is in the European Union and part of its Schengen Area. This enables passport-free movement across most of EU.

Furthermore, Malta’s citizenship scheme is also popular because it’s relatively cheap and quick. Applicants usually receive their passports within 12 to 18 months.

Property requirement

As one of the program requirements, applicants are required to either buy a property worth at least 350,000 Euros, or rent one for at least 16,000 Euros a year for five years.

More than 80% of applicants for passports take the rental option. However, there is increasing concern that many properties remain, leading some people in Malta to question applicants’ intentions such as whether they are even interested in living in Malta or they just want access to EU.

Individual Investor Program is one of the factors pushing up house prices in Malta by some 7% each year, and rents by about 10%.

It is agreed that EU access is a key selling point for a Maltese passport but the island is an attractive investment in itself.

The donations made by the applicants now total more than 220m Euros and are worth about 2.5% of Malta’s GDP. This indicates that Malta’s citizenship scheme makes a significant contribution to the economy.

Citizenship debate

Citizenship is about more than just numbers. There is always a debate on this matter.

But what right can any of us really claim to citizenship? After all, most of us acquire it through our parents, by chance.

Some people are also of the view that the citizenship is always unearned and that there’s often an inherent false virtue in a moral disinclination to treating it as a commodity.

So instead of excluding the people, why not make some money off of admitting some of them who you would otherwise be entitled to exclude?

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