The number of first-time residence permits issued in Malta decreased by 49 per cent in 2020, making it the third largest drop in permits issued in the EU when compared to 2019.

This follows a trend among most European states, according to data published by Eurostat.

In 2020, EU states issued 2.2 million first-time residence permits to non-EU nationals, marking a decrease of 24 per cent from the previous year.

In 2019, Malta had issued the highest number of such residence permits to non-EU nationals when compared proportionally to its population, with 42 permits issued per 1,000 people, while the EU average stood at seven per 1,000 people.

The only EU country that saw an increase in the number of residence permits issued was Lithuania, which recorded an increase of five per cent bet-ween 2019 and 2020.

The countries which registered the largest decrease in the number of permits issued were Czechia, at 54 per cent, and Greece, 53 per cent.

The dip in the amount of first-time residence permits issued has largely been attributed to COVID-19 and the associated travel and administrative restrictions put in place by national governments that made migration somewhat difficult during this time.

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Malta on March 7, 2020 and, four days later, the first travel ban was put into place effectively suspending all commercial sea and air travel. On March 13, a two-week mandatory quarantine was introduced for people being repatriated into Malta from any other country.

The airport did not resume commercial activities again until June 2020, where travellers were still required to present a vaccine certificate or a negative PCR test.

Malta is still operating on a traffic light system when it comes to entry requirements for travellers arriving from other, non-EU countries.

Passengers from ‘dark red’ countries must observe a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival.

In 2020, Malta issued 11,107 first residence permits, while it issued 21,200 in 2019.

The highest share of these went to citizens of India, which made up 20 per cent of the number of authorisations issued in 2020, followed by Turkey at 8.1 per cent, China and Hong Kong at 7.8 per cent, the Philippines at 7.4 per cent and Nepal at 7.3 per cent.

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