A new student visa policy that facilitates and streamlines the immigration process for non-EU citizens studying in Malta has been announced.
It aims to make Malta more competitive as an education jurisdiction while maintaining the strong reputation of the local education sector, the Education Ministry said.
Students from non-EU countries may require a visa in order to come to Malta for educational purposes. Such visas may be extended by a national visa or a residence permit, depending on the length of the course.
There are two main categories of students - higher education students who are pursuing a course at Malta Qualifications Framework Level 5, and other students who are not pursuing a higher education certificate, including English language students, the ministry explained.
Private operators in the education sector often find it difficult to tap into certain foreign markets due to Malta’s limited consular representation.
The new policy will bring about significant changes in terms of:
- Managing the admittance of English language students by means of a national visa instead of a residence permit. Such students will only be required to apply for a residence permit if their stay in Malta is going to exceed one year;
- Where Malta is not represented by a consular mission or a visa office, students may submit a visa application without the need to present themselves in person. They will also be able to use external service providers who are present in countries outside the territory of Maltese consulates;
- The system will ensure that only bona fide students are issued with a visa in order to travel to Malta. The Ministry for Education, Identity Malta and the police will maintain a system of data sharing on students and educational institutions;
- Non EU students pursuing a full-time course (exceeding 90 calendar days) leading to a higher education qualification may take up employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week, starting from their first year of studies. Moreover, students who obtain a recognised higher education qualification in Malta may extend their stay in Malta by six months.
The new arrangments will make it possible for the country to retain the talent of highly skilled third-country nationals, the ministry said.