A number of non-EU children have been unable to attend state school because of difficulties encountered by their parents in applying for their offspring’s residence permits.

Times of Malta has confirmed that at least 12 children have missed the first three months of this scholastic year, but according to activist Patricia Graham the number could be much higher.

The major stumbling block many families are coming across is that Identity Malta is not accepting their applications for residence permits for the children, citing insufficient earnings.

Being denied the right to submit their application, these families can neither appeal the decision nor receive the ‘blue paper’ – a receipt for the submission of their application, which would entitle them to enrol their children in a government school.

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The requirement to have a residence permit or ‘blue paper’ before enrolling such children became policy recently. A child could previously be enrolled in school merely on the basis of their passport, according to Ana Zdravkovic, the founder of a group of third country national parents.

The situation would make any parent anxious

Katarina Aksentijevic is one of the parents who in October was told by Identity Malta she could not submit the application because her family’s income fell below the requirements, and was therefore denied the blue paper.

Her eight-year-old is bored at home and although she has a babysitter, she craves the company of others her age.

“She misses other children. When we go to the park the kids play altogether and she can’t wait for someone to come up to her.”

Of course, the situation would make any parent anxious, Ms Aksentijevic explained, but at least they are together.

“We lived separately for two years to create the conditions for us to be together again. We were in Serbia and my husband was in Malta.”

Following a protest at Identity Malta, she and others in her situation were issued with a blue paper last month. However, her daughter’s residence permit was refused a week later which meant she could not be enrolled.

She is now one of the parents who have lodged an appeal and are waiting to hear about the schooling options for their children during the interim.

Times of Malta has since September received several reports from third country nationals experiencing issues with lodging their residence application.

Identity Malta says it assesses applications on an individual basis and that parents have the right to appeal the decision.

“Notwithstanding the income benchmark, each application is examined on a case-by-case basis and Identity Malta Agency takes into account all the relevant circumstances,” according to a spokesperson.

“Furthermore, decisions on applications for a residence permit may be contested at the Immigration Appeals Board.”

Questioned why the government agency was denying families the facility to lodge their applications, the spokesperson explained that “an application for a residence permit may not be accepted if it is deemed to be inadmissible or incomplete”.

However, many families are insisting that all their documentation is in place and the only reason the staff at Identity Malta are giving them for pushing back their application is insufficient earnings.

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