The number of new residence permits issued last year was the second highest in percentage terms across the EU last year compared to the year before, according to recently published Eurostat data.
With almost 38,000 new permits issued in 2022, this represented a 164% increase from over 14,000 the year before.
This was second only to Germany, where the number of new permits increased by a staggering 190% to almost 540,000. Ireland was third, growing by 146% to almost 86,000.
Malta also saw the second-highest increase in the number of residence permits granted for employment at 27,500.
14% of residence permits were issued for education, while only 7% were given for people to join other family members in Malta and 6% for “other reasons”, including international protection.
Meanwhile, in Germany, only 15% of residence permits were given for work purposes, while 35% were granted for family considerations and 37% were allocated for other reasons.
Lithuania saw the greatest share of permits allocated to employment, constituting over 22,000 of the roughly 27,000 total granted for work reasons (some 82%).
In general, employment was the main reason for permits being issued across the EU, accounting for 42% of the almost 3.7 million residence permits given out last year. This was an 18% increase from the year before.
Spain was the most popular destination overall for workers in 2022, with over 145,000 permits granted for employment. This was significantly ahead of Germany and Italy which came in second and third place at almost 82,000 and 67,000 respectively.
Meanwhile, France was the leading destination for education, granting over 100,000 permits to those arriving to study.
Last year, Malta’s population swelled by 4.2% to an estimated 542,051 people, with third-country nationals making up 83.1 per cent of the total net migrants in 2022. EU nationals moving to Malta do not need an employment permit.
While some Facebook posts recently claimed that foreign residents now outnumber Maltese residents, this was disproven in a recent Times of Malta fact-check which showed that those from overseas make up a quarter of the country’s population.
Social security contributions from non-Maltese up by 570% in a decade
Meanwhile, in January, figures presented in Parliament revealed that social security contributions from non-Maltese have shot up by over 570% over the past decade, increasing from just over €30 million per year in 2012 to over €202 million in 2021.
The total contribution to the Maltese economy from foreign workers stands at over €1 billion since 2012.
However, the country’s economic model has attracted criticism for the often-exploitative nature of work done by third-country nationals and the additional strain placed on the country’s infrastructure.
In 2021, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana admitted that Malta’s reliance on foreign workers had brought about difficulties.
“We have to admit that some challenges were also created as a result, namely in infrastructure, education and healthcare. These challenges must be identified and addressed,” Caruana said.