Integration of Immigrant Spouses and Children

The research is part of the project  ‘Pan-European Conference: Integration of Immigrant Spouses and Children’ supported by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and the Maltese Ministry for Social Dialogue, Civil Liberties and Consumer Affairs.

This report is divided into three parts. Part A sets out an analysis of the legal framework for family migration and the integration of family members in Malta. The legal framework discusses mechanisms for family re-unification and family members’ access to various social services (education, the labour market, social benefits, long-term residency, and citizenship). Under Maltese law, entry into Malta and access to services are based on the status of the family member who sponsored the reunification. TCN family members of EU citizens who sponsor reunification enjoy more advantageous rights than those who are sponsored by TCNs residing in Malta. Such advantages include eligibility for family reunification and better access to the labour market, social services, and residency for people who are legally considered to be family members. These conditions have created many areas for improvement from both the Maltese government and civil society to better facilitate the integration of family members and to preserve the family unit for migrants.

Part B presents the results of interviews with 55 migrants in Malta on the basis of family reunification about their experiences with integration in Malta. The survey was divided into eight sections: employment; education; health; family life; access to information; discrimination and equal rights; life satisfaction and social benefits; and political and civic participation. Respondents were encouraged to include additional information and comments which they thought were relevant. 45 face-to-face interviews were carried out by SOS Malta and teachers of St. Paul’s Bay Primary School who were engaged in the research with the assistance of the Maltese Ministry for Education and Employment. We also uploaded the same questionnaire on the Internet where it was taken on by 15 respondents. Overall, the answers vary from one respondent to another. Some respondents are very satisfied and content with their life in Malta, however a significant number of respondents feel rejected by the society and experience difficulties when trying to find a job or navigating through various public services.

Part C presents a number of practices from seven EU member states that could support the integration of family members in Malta. These practices were selected partly in response to the challenges identified through the interviews presented in part B above. The selected member states are Germany, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, whilst the identified practices include legislative measures regarding access to family reunification as well as measures relating to employment and self-employment, education, social support and political empowerment.