Subsidiary Protection


The EU Qualification Directive defines a person eligible for subsidiary protection as someone who is

a third-country national or a stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned,  if returned to his or her country of origin…would face a real risk of suffering serious harm…and is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country

Serious harm is defined in the same Directive as consisting of:

  1. the death penalty or execution; or
  2. torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of an applicant in the country of origin; or
  3. serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

Malta has transposed this definition into its Refugees Act of 2001.

According to the Procedural Standards For Granting And Withdrawing International Protection Regulations, a person enjoying subsidiary protection shall be entitled:

  • to remain in Malta with freedom of movement, and to be granted, as soon as possible, personal documents, including a residence permit for a period of three years, which shall be renewable
  • to be given a Travel Document, entitling him to leave and return to Malta without the need of a visa (unless he is in custody awaiting judicial proceedings for the commission of a criminal offence, or is serving a term of imprisonment)
  • to have access to employment, core social welfare, appropriate accommodation, integration programmes, State education and training, and to receive State medical care
  • persons granted subsidiary protection and who are considered as vulnerable persons shall, as far as possible, be provided with adequate health care
  • Family members of a person granted subsidiary protection, if they are in Malta at the time of decision, enjoy the same rights and benefits as the person enjoying subsidiary protection status so that family unity may be maintained.

Right to Appeal

  • A person granted subsidiary protection may appeal this decision (of being granted subsidiary protection and not refugee status) to the Refugee Appeals Board within 15 days of the decision.
  • Entitled to free legal aid.
  • The Refugee Appeals Board’s decision is final, except for:
    • Constitutional case based on Article 4 of the European Convention or Article 46 of the Constitution of Malta;
    • Judicial Review (of administrative procedure, not of the asylum claim) which must be filed within a period of six months from the date one received notice of the Refugee Appeals Board’s decision;
    • Subsequent application to the Refugee Commissioner in the case of new evidence which may be made at any time, but within 15 days of the new information being received by the applicant.


  • Persons granted subsidiary protection status are entitled to receive State medical care.
  • Family members of a person granted subsidiary protection, if they are in Malta at the time of decision, enjoy the same rights and benefits as the person enjoying subsidiary protection status so that family unity may be maintained.


  • Must have an employment licence (also known as a work permit) to legally work in Malta.
  • The employment licence is issued in the person’s own name (i.e. one does not have to rely on an employer to apply for one’s work permit) by Jobsplus (the public employment service). Further details:
  • All employment licences are, in general, issued for a maximum duration of one year.
  • The application is first considered from a labour market perspective
  • Application fees:
    • New application fee: Payable on issue € 58
    • Renewal fee: Payable on issue € 34
  • There are no restrictions on the type of work undertaken.
  • When starting employment, the employer is to advise Jobsplus of such employment by sending an Engagement Form containing the actual date of commencement of employment. When employment is terminated or when an employee’s employment status is changed, the employer is to advise Jobsplus by sending a Declaration of Termination of Employment form.
  • May approach Jobsplus for job advisory services for support and guidance in the quest for work and training opportunities. 
  • Require an employment licence to work as self-employed.
  • Compliance with social security, income tax and employment conditions regulations must be ensured.
  • Any worker in Malta has the right to join a trade union.
  • The Employment and Industrial Relations Act applies to all foreign nationals engaging in employment in Malta.
  • Employers should not engage foreign nationals on conditions of work, (ie wages/salaries, hours of work etc) which are less favourable than those established for work of the same character or nature by national laws and regulations.
  • Any employee who believes that his or her rights have been breached in any way may seek recourse at the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations at Melita Street, Valletta. Further details:

Social Welfare


  • Education is compulsory for children aged between 5 and 16 years
  • Persons with subsidiary protection may access compulsory, further and higher education in Maltese state educational institutions and apply for an exemption from fees at state educational institutions (covering compulsory education, vocational studies e.g. MCAST, tertiary studies e.g. University of Malta, and adult learning e.g. Lifelong Learning courses) at the Exemption Office within the Ministry for Education and Employment. Visit for further information.
  • The Migrant Learners Unit caters to the needs of newcomers to the Maltese education system. Visit for further information.


  • Accommodation in an open centre is usually provided for up to one year in total (not one year from when one is granted subsidiary protection). The duration of accommodation is specified in the service agreement with AWAS. If a person leaves the open centre to live in the community before he is due to leave, there is no guarantee that he will be allowed to return to accommodation in the open centre.
  • Entitled to apply for the Private Rent Housing Benefit Scheme (financial support towards rent payment for persons with limited income).

Family Reunification

  • No right to family reunification.


  • According to law, a person who has resided in Malta for at least five years may apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
  • Applicants for citizenship:
    • must have an adequate knowledge of the Maltese or the English language;
    • must be of good character; and
    • would be a suitable citizen of Malta.
  • Decisions on citizenship applications are taken by the Minister responsible for citizenship. The Minister is not required to assign any reason for the grant or refusal of any application. The decision of the Minister is not subject to appeal or review in any court.
  • Children born in Malta are not granted Maltese citizenship (if at least one of the parents is not Maltese).


The above is a summary developed by UNHCR Malta. Relevant government authorities should be consulted for further details regarding rights and responsibilities.




EU Qualification Directive

Refugees Act

Procedural Standards for Granting and Withdrawing International Protection Regulations


Health Entitlements:


Employment and Industrial Relations Act

Employment and Training Services Act


Department for Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER)


Social Security Act

Social Security Department

Foundation for Social Welfare Services


Education Act

Ministry for Education and Employment

Migrant Learners’ Unit

Exemptions from Fees at State Educational Institutions


Housing Authority


Family Reunification Regulations


Maltese Citizenship Act

Identity Malta