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The need to acquire a work permit to be able to work in a foreign country is a reality in much of the world, and acquiring a permit to work in Malta is no exception. However, the country’s accession to the European Union in 2004 has changed matters considerably.

As a result, foreign nationals hailing from 32 European countries – 28 EU and four European Free Trade Association members – do not require any work permits to work in Malta.

All other foreign nationals require work permits, but certain categories – such as long-term residents and asylum seekers – can compete for jobs with Maltese and EU/EFTA workers on an equal footing. While refugees and asylum seekers can personally apply for a work permit – officially called an employment licence and issued by the Employment and Training Corporation – it is typically up to employers to apply for the licences on behalf of their prospective employees.

Consequently, the primary challenge for those seeking to obtain an employment licence is finding employment in the first place. In most cases, employers have to prove that they have tried to fill any vacant posts with people who have an inherent right to work in Malta, before attempting to apply for a licence. Check out the relevant documentation here.

However, there are a number of exceptions to the rule. Home-based carers can be recruited directly, although applicants need to submit medical certificates proving the need for full-time care, while those seeking carers for their children have to make a clear case for the need to recruit foreign nationals.

Exemptions are also in place in the culture and entertainment sectors, but employers have to elaborate on the reasons behind their decision to employ third-country nationals, in their covering letter.

Foreign cleaners, room attendants, steel fixers, formwork erectors and concrete shutterers can be recruited if evidence of work contracts is provided. However, employers may be required to participate in recruitment drives held by the ETC and to interview suitable candidates on request.

Ethnic restaurants may directly employ a number of foreign chefs, depending on their size and subject to approval by the Malta Tourism Authority. The Malta Council for Sports’ approval, meanwhile, is required for sports clubs who recruit talent from countries outside the EU/EFTA.

Another special case concerns highly-skilled third country nationals who qualify for the recently-enacted EU Blue Card. Such applications will be treated favourably, but certain conditions – including proof that the job in question requires highly-qualified individuals and that it involves the payment of at least 1.5 times the annual gross annual salary – have to be met.

Self-employment is also a possibility, but only in exceptional cases. Successful candidates would include those who invest at least €500,000, as well as sole representatives of a reputable overseas company wishing to set up a branch in Malta.

To view the latest jobs available in Malta, click here.