More lenient Resident Visa bill passed

Thinadhoo MP Abdul Mughnee | Photo: Majlis

Male’, Maldives – Parliament of Maldives has passed the new Resident Visa bill with more lenient requirements and benefits for foreigners who invest more USD 250,000.

The new amendment to the Immigration Act was submitted to the parliament by Thinadhoo constituency member Abdhul Mugnee on behalf of the government. After the bill was reviewed by the parliament, it was sent to the Parliament Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations which had presented a report on the amendment to the parliament floor. The report was passed with 52 votes for the bill.

According to the new amendment, the Corporate Resident Visa, which needs to be renewed every five years, would allow shareholders, directors and partners of businesses registered according to the regulations set by the Registerer of Businesses to have them and their families live in Maldives for long terms. These individuals who would be allowed to reside in Maldives would not fall under the employment category visa holders.

The new amendment to the Immigration Act allows foreigners to get Corporate Resident Visa if they have invested USD 250,000 in Maldives or if the person keeps the same amount in a Maldivian bank for a period of five years as a fixed deposit.

Even though the bill had been passed, some of the members from Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have also raised their concerns on this bill. Maafannu central constituency member, Ibrahim Rasheed (Bondey) had criticized the bill stating that foreign investments are not just a means to bring in money to the country and that it should be more beneficial to the people than that.

MP Rasheed told that such investments should improve the capacity of Maldivians and also improve the productivity of the nation through which people would be able to earn more income. He also added that selling a flat for USD 250,000 was not a means for such benefits and that this bill beats the purpose of foreign investment benefits.

In addition to the Corporate Resident Visa, the committee had also included Marriage Visa in to the new amendment. This also has to be renewed every five years.

As per the existing regulation, Corporate Business Visa holders are eligible for free access to airport VIP lounge, hire foreign employees for households, duty levied on land vehicles and marine vessels which are imported for personal use and fast track services from all government authorities and state owned enterprises.

However, this regulation is to be amended within 14 days after the bill gets ratified. According to the current regulation, Corporate Resident Visa is only given to people who invest more than USD 50 million for the duration of their investment and a five year visa for those who keep more than USD 1 million in a Maldivian bank for more than two years.