Students from non-EU country planning to pursue their studies in Malta are often hit with two seemingly insurmountable hurdles that can bring their dreams to a grinding halt - obtaining a visa and covering living expenses to the end of their stay. For better or for worse, arrangements underpinning immigration and employment rules vary greatly between countries. However, in a world that is becoming rapidly globalized, such regulations lie in stark conflict with the ideal spirit of education and sharing of knowledge. Why should this be restricted by national boundaries after all? Malta takes cue from this, and in a sudden and unprecedented move, implements a change in its visa policies for students looking to head to Maltese shores, while also shifting gears for employment regulations for the same students. If you’ve been giving serious consideration to taking up studies at AUM here in Malta but the visa application procedure as well as the fear of your budget fizzling out have you on tenterhooks, read on for a sigh of relief.
The Visa Story So Far
Generally speaking, the two types of students Malta sees most often are those wanting to pursue studies in higher education, usually at university level, and English language students.
Maltese institutions, including AUM, have shown a keen interest in penetrating several markets and countries that lie outside of the EU jurisdiction, creating a visa headache for the institutions and students alike. What worsens this conundrum at times is the lack of consulates representing these outlier countries in Malta.
So far, when students picked Malta as their destination of choice for an education, they’d need a visa designated for educational purposes. If they wanted to extend said visa, the next step was to get a national visa or a residence permit, the choice of which hinged on the length of the course.
What’s About to Change Regarding Student Visa
The Education Ministry has just announced a list of changes to student visa policies bound to come into effect shortly. Here’s what to expect:
Students only looking to study English in Malta can do that on just a national visa for a period of up to one year. If they decide to stay on longer than one year, they’ll need to switch to a residence permit, but not before that.
If there are no official representatives for Malta such as consular missions in the student’s country, the student can submit his/her application anyway without showing up in person. They can send their application to Malta or to external service providers where a Maltese consulate is not present.
The Ministry for Education, Identity Malta and the police will keep track of students’ visa applications so as to ensure that immigration regulations are adhered to and all applications are done in good faith.
The Financial Challenges of Long-Term Students and Employment Solutions
Another policy that is up for change is the one dictating employment for students in Malta. While quite a few things are still up in the air at the moment, a few noteworthy changes have been set in place.
Firstly, non-EU students pursuing an education at tertiary/higher level will be allowed to work legally for up to 20 hours a week.
What’s more, the same students who complete a full-time course at higher-education level can have their stay extended by up to six months after the completion of their course. During this time they can find employment and put into practice their studies. The Maltese government says that it wants that both sides – the students and Malta – benefit from the students’ newly acquired skills regardless of their country of origin.
This comes as a win-win situation, when we consider that the demand for jobs, especially in the hospitality and catering sector, exceeds the supply by a long shot.
Next up, the government and FELTOM (Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta) are currently debating the possibility of loosening the grip on work permits for English language students as well. This will certainly help students, especially from countries in Latin America and Asia, many of which resign themselves to having to cut their long-term studies short due to lack of enough funds. And when considering that quite a few of these students start their life in Malta as English language students before moving onto higher-level education such as a degree at university, such a proposition is surely the silver lining for such students.
AUM Gears Up for the New Student Intake
With AUM getting ready to open its doors to new students for the upcoming scholastic year starting in Fall 2018, these new visa and employment policies come as a huge breath of fresh air. Student recruitment representatives at AUM as well as hopeful, prospective students from countries lying outside of the EU were let down many times due to walls they hit half way throughout the application procedure because of previous visa policies. As we’ve seen, this is about to change and AUM reps and students can talk terms confidently and with peace of mind.
If you are planning to join us for the upcoming academic year and you need us to help you out with any difficulties, visa related or what have you, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our Student Affairs.