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Title: Country report on citizenship law : Malta
Authors: Buttigieg, Eugene
DeBono, Daniela
Keywords: Citizenship -- Malta
Naturalization -- Malta
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: European University Institute
Citation: Buttigieg, E., & DeBono, D. (2015). Country report on citizenship law : Malta, EUDO Citizenship, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence: European University Institute.
Abstract: Malta’s legal regime on citizenship is relatively young as it came into being on the day of Malta’s acquisition of independence from British rule in 1964. Throughout these years, however, particularly over the past 25 years, it has undergone extensive alterations marking changes in the governing principles. Malta’s first citizenship provisions were a combined application of the ius soli and ius sanguinis principles with a strict prohibition of dual/multiple citizenship and in certain respects manifested a degree of gender inequality. Reforms in 1989, 2000 and 2007 brought about a radical change of policy regarding citizenship by in particular (i) reversing the prohibition against dual/multiple citizenship, in certain instances even retrospectively, and extending dual citizenship not only to those who had been Maltese citizens by birth in Malta and lost this Maltese citizenship on emigrating but also to first, second and subsequent generations of Maltese born outside Malta and living abroad whose Maltese citizenship derived from descent rather than birth in Malta; (ii) shifting to a rule based more on ius sanguinis than on ius soli and (iii) removing gender inequality. Apart from the existing routes by naturalisation and registration, a more recent reform in 2013 introduced a new route for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship through an investment scheme. This reform took many by surprise, in part because there was no other citizenship-by-investment scheme in existence up until then, but also because, as a policy, it marks a radical shift from the ‘protectionist’, ‘arbitrary’ and ‘discretionary’ policy of citizenship acquisition by naturalisation. The relevant Maltese legislation uses the terms ‘ċittadin’ (‘citizen’) and ‘ċittadinanza’ (‘citizenship’) rather than ‘nazzjonalità’ (‘nationality’) in describing the bond between Malta and persons of Maltese descent or those who have acquired this bond through registration or naturalisation. Thus, the technical legal term is ‘ċittadinanza’ not ‘nazzjonalità’. However, nowhere in the legislation is there a definition of any of these terms. The main legislation is the Maltese Citizenship Act and it regulates the acquisition, deprivation and renunciation of Maltese ‘ċittadinanza’. Likewise the Constitution of Malta only speaks of the acquisition of ‘ċittadinanza’ and the rights attached to ‘ċittadinanza’. Although the term ‘nazzjonalità’ is also used in the Immigration Act and the Malta Citizenship Act, it is used in a non-technical and generic way to mean the provenance of a person rather than a status that gives specific legal rights.Citizenship
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