Third-country (non-EU) nationals studying English in Malta will be able to extend their temporary student visas during COVID-19 closures under strict criteria, Lovin Malta can reveal.
Lovin Malta is informed that Identity Malta has told English Language Schools across the country that students will only be able to extend their visa if they continued taking their lessons online.
Schools will need to submit an attendance record of each student, who will need to attend at least one online lesson every day, five days a week.
The timings of sessions will not need to be listed, given that schools will be using different platforms and will give lessons of varying length. Schools not currently offering online lessons must contact Identity Malta.
Sources who spoke to Lovin Malta raised concerns that third-country students (non-EU) who paid for six-month courses would be booted out of the country once their visas expired.
Some countries have closed their borders, and the students simply cannot return home. There are fears that the students could be declared illegal immigrants and face a three-year Schengen ban.
“It was not easy for them to come here in the first time so is not an option for them come again to finish the course they already paid,” sources said.
The news comes after Education Minister Owen Bonnici announced that all educational establishments would remain closed until at least June. The decision was the latest in drastic but necessary measures to combat the spread. Third-country nationals on temporary permits are the ones who are first feeling significant effects.
The government has so far announced that it will longer accept any work permit applications for third-country nationals looking for a job in the country unless they are highly-skilled individuals.
However, the state has said that it will work to help all third-country nationals to find alternative employment. Third-country nationals who work in the healthcare sector will be granted an automatic three-month extension.
For any other third-country national looking to extend their temporary permit amid the COVID-19 economic downturn, are obliged to send a request by email on [email protected] and ask for a confirmation.
Persons looking to renew their permit or change their employment status have been asked to submit the applications online via www.singlepermit.gov.mt.
Economic concerns have grown in recent weeks with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak set to trigger a global economic recession. Malta is already taking a massive hit with industries effectively shut down because of the virus, with flights and non-essential shops closing down.
Several sectors have already felt the pinch, with Lovin Malta previously revealing that hundreds of third-country nationals have been told to pack up and leave by employers who will not be renewing their work permits, or face deportation or being declared an illegal immigrant.
According to Jobsplus, there are currently over 13,000 third-country nationals living on a work permit in Malta.
A massive deportation effort would require enormous resources from the state, while thousands of people will be left unemployed and effectively stranded in Malta.