Author: Ann Bugeja
Prior to the 11th of March 2021, all third country nationals who had long-term residence status in Malta were still expected to obtain an employment license in order to work in Malta. This has changed following the publication of Legal Notice 84 of 2021.
What is ‘long-term status’?
In terms of Subsidiary Legislation (‘S.L.’) 217.05 (the ‘Status of Long-term Residents (Third Country Nationals) Regulations’), a non-EU National who has been residing in Malta for a continuous period of 5 years, may be eligible to apply for long-term residence status. The applicant must of course satisfy certain conditions, such as having stable and regular resources, being in possession of sickness insurance, and have evidence of integration measures, amongst others.
The long-term residence permit shall be valid for a period of 5 years and renewed automatically upon application, in comparison to a standard work permit which must be renewed on a yearly basis. In addition to this, just like any other immigration document, the long-term residence permit may be withdrawn in certain circumstances, such as, if the individual is absent from the territory of the European Union for a period of 12 consecutive months.
EU Directive 2003/109/EC
European Directive 2003/109/EC, concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, stipulates that long-term residents shall enjoy equal treatment with nationals regarding “access to employment and self-employed activity, provided such activities do not entail even occasional involvement in the exercise of public authority, and conditions of employment and working conditions, including conditions regarding dismissal and remuneration.”
In July 2020, the EU Commission sent a formal notice to the Maltese authorities outlining that by subjecting third-country nationals who are long-term residents in Malta to obtain an employment license, Malta would be failing to comply with its obligations under the above- mentioned Directive.
In light of this, the Commission decided to initiate an infringement procedure against Malta as it concluded that the said requirement imposed on these long-term residents constituted an infringement of the Directive in view of the fact that Maltese nationals do not require such license to have access to employment and thus, the requirement imposed on such residents constitutes inequality of treatment.
Thus, since the EU Commission declared the employment license requirement to be an infringement of EU law, by virtue of Legal Notice 84 of 2021, the requirement of obtaining an employment license for residents who are in possession of a long-term status in Malta has been abolished and thus, Article 11(1)(a) of S.L. 217.05 now reads as follows:
“A third country national granted long-term residence status in Malta shall enjoy equal treatment as Maltese nationals as regards:
Access to employment and self-employed activity, as long as such activities do not entail even occasional involvement in the exercise of public authority and are not reserved by law for Maltese nationals in terms of the Public Administration Act and any regulations made thereunder and such access should not be subject to the requirement of an employment license.”