The Maldives Government has updated its corporate residency policies in a recently published set of regulations. The regulations launched on 29 August 2021 provide detailed guidance on allowing residency visas for qualifying overseas nationals.  The regulations are made under the Immigration Act.

Target audience

The rules target three main categories of overseas nationals. The family members are the fourth category.

Category 1

Overseas nationals who are either shareholders, directors, partners or senior officers of a foreign investment registered in the Maldives. According to the regulations, a senior officer is one within the top 5 management officers of the company as may be determined by its board of directors.

Category 2

Overseas nationals wishing to reside in the Maldives after having kept a minimum sum of US$250,000 in a fixed deposit at a bank in the Maldives.

Category 3

Overseas nationals willing to invest a sum of US$250,000 in a government approved business in a manner decided by the government.

Category 4

Family members of a person qualifying under any of the other three categories. They are defined as the applicant’s parents, spouses, children, grandparents and grandchildren.

Responsible agency

The Registrar of Business is the nodal agency responsible for granting approvals for and extensions of corporate resident visas, and cancellation of those approvals. The Controller of Immigration is asked, without attaching further conditions, to act on approvals granted by the Registrar and process the visa.

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible under Category 1, the investment must be registered in the Maldives, and it must not have violated the foreign investment agreement; at least fifty percent of full-time staff involved in the business ought to be locals; it must not have been blacklisted under the Employment Regulations on Overseas Nationals; and the business must have generated an annual revenue of US$1m in any one of the last three financial years – as may be substantiated by audited reports.

In order to be eligible under Category 2, the requirement to keep a fixed deposit is for at least 5 years. The applicant must prove the amount and duration of deposit via a bank statement.

In order to be eligible under Category 3, the government would identify and publish certain selected businesses in which overseas nationals may invest with a view to procure a corporate resident visa in the Maldives. The applicant must show that it has made the investment.

General conditions

In addition to those category specific conditions, there are some general conditions that are applicable to all applicants alike. These conditions ought to be present at the time of application as well as thereafter during the period of the visa.

Some of those conditions include not being convicted of a criminal offence or being subjected to any prosecution or investigation of a criminal offence; not being convicted of an offence of domestic violence or being subjected to any form of order or injunction in relation to such an offence; not being subject to any Interpol notice or arrest warrant; not being a person previously deported from the Maldives; not being convicted of a sexual offence or human trafficking; not being convicted of or involved in an offence of corruption, money laundering or a member of such a group.

Additionally, an applicant should not fall within the list of prohibited persons prescribed by the Immigration Act.

Application process?

An eligible applicant may lodge the application via the prescribed form through the business portal (https://business.egov.mv/).

The application must accompany (and will not be considered complete unless the application is supported by) relevant documents including the completed application form, personal declaration, copy of the biodata page of the passport which has at least 6 months to expire.

All successful applicants will get the approval of the Registrar of Business within 14 days of submission. An application for visa must be made to the Maldives Immigration within 14 days of this approval. A visa fee of MVR15,000 would be payable to process the visa.

The visa will be issued for a period of 5 years. It can be renewed 90 days prior to its expiration, if needed.

Visa cancellation

The visa maybe cancelled at the request of the visa holder. It may also be revoked by a decision of the Registrar for want of any of the eligibility criteria or for having provided inaccurate information during application.

By MN

Contributed by AI

Photo: Courtesy Mihaaru