Changes in Getting a Work Permit in Malta

Within three years of moving to Malta and getting a permit to teach EFL in Malta, things have changed drastically. It’s much harder for Non-EU’s to get first-time permits and even more difficult to get work permits renewed. I just managed to slip by when I became a resident of Malta by virtue of being declared a family-member dependent of an EU National.

Here are the latest changes you need to be aware of:

There is a new employment guide published by the ETC (Employment and Training Corporation). This guideline is the most thorough, up-to-date guideline available on the process of applying for work permits, including those seeking self-employment. At last, all information for anyone applying for a job–EU citizens, Non-EU citizens, family members and partners of various residency statuses–are in one place. You may not like what you read or learn regarding your own situation, but it is clearer than ever about what is allowed and required.

You don’t go yourself anymore. The hiring company does it for you. When I first came to Malta, I went to the ETC office once or twice a week. I didn’t want to go, but I had to keep coming back with more information, more copies, more of whatever they could think of. Now the individual doesn’t go anymore. The whole permit business must be carried out by the employer or the HR department.

At first this seems, good; you don’t have to take a 45- minute bus ride and sit in a horrible waiting room for up to an hour or so until your number is called. On the other hand, you lose almost total control over the process now.

You have to rely on the HR department of a company to organize your papers, send them to the ETC office, communicate back and forth with them, ask you for more information, etc. If there’s anyone besides myself who knows how long Maltese human resource departments take to do something, you will immediately recognize the drawback of this new process. Basically, it may never happen. The company may just not send your forms or follow-up in time. And this is exactly what the ETC wants to happen because the ETC doesn’t want your application to be processed; the ETC wants you to leave Malta and return to your own country to work.

The labor considerations are taken very seriously now. Labor considerations means that the ETC now decides who a company can employ. If you are a Non-EU, highly trained English teacher and the school director wants to hire you, the ETC can just tell the director that Malta already has enough EFL teachers around and the ETC sees no reason to grant a permit to another teacher. Yes, this can happen. How do I know? Because it happened to me and my application was denied. The other aspect of this is also in effect. Before a Non-EU can be hired, the company must advertise the position in the Maltese newspapers for a candidate and the company must interview three applicants. If none of the applicants are appropriate, then the application will be taken under consideration by the ETC. That doesn’t mean they will accept it, it means that it will pushed along–slowly. Before, companies merely gave lip service to the labor market conditions. Now the ETC asks them to prove they interviewed other applicants before offering the job to a Non-EU applicant.

The company must provide you with private insurance policy.

If you manage to get a work permit, the employer must provide you with a private health insurance policy for the duration of the contract which is usually for one year. If there is no policy within three months of getting the permit, it will be revoked. While it may sound good to you that the employer must provide health insurance, this gives the company a reason not to want to hire a Non-EU.

It is hard to get a permit renewed. No matter how long you have been at a company, the ETC has the right to deny you a permit the next time you apply. All they have to say is that the labor market has changed and there isn’t a need for your position. Previously, someone could stay on for about four years before having trouble getting a permit renewed. Now the first renewal is a long shot.

As I write this, the laws are changing. No one knows how hard it will end up being for Non-EU’s to work in Malta. But despite all these obstacles, I do know of people who have gotten permits. If you really want to live and work in Malta, go for it. But also have “Plan B: in mind.

Source: The ETC Employment Guide

Ilene Springer teaches EFL and lives in Malta. She is author of An-American-in-Malta.com.