Visas granted to Algerians on fraudulent basis: Malta bookings are ‘shell’ bookings

Published: November 19, 2015 at 2:59pm

Algerian citizens are giving fraudulent information on their Malta visa applications and Malta is granting visas based on that fraudulent information.

Visa applicants are required to state the purpose of their visit and to show evidence that they have somewhere to stay in Malta. Applicants at the Maltese consulate in Algiers have been getting round this by giving false information which is then not checked or followed up on by the Maltese authorities.

Landlords and owners of holiday flats in Malta which are listed on Airbnb and have reported to me “a flood” (the exact words of one owner) of bookings from Algerians in recent months. “The bookings are still coming in to this day,” another one told me. “I ignore them because not one of the many Algerians who has booked stays at my two flats has turned up.” and Airbnb are the most popular booking systems for Algerians who have no intention of actually coming to Malta, but who want a booking confirmation to present with their visa application, because those systems allow bookings without a deposit. This allows them to not only make a booking for fraudulent purposes, but to do so without spending any money.

By contrast, the management of the leading hotels with which I spoke say that they have not noticed any bookings by Algerians, and none by Algerian non-shows. But as they pointed out, “We require a deposit on online bookings, and some hotels even require the full amount up ahead. And no-shows who have only paid a deposit are often charged a penalty to the card they used to make the booking.”

The fact that leading hotels have not registered noticeable bookings from Algerians despite 7,000 Algerian citizens have obtained Maltese visas in 18 months is in itself indicative of the fact that they are not coming to Malta for business or tourism. If they really were, an arrivals figure of 7,000 in 18 months would have left some noticeable impact on the hotel industry.

Information I have indicates that the stated purpose of visit, on a significant number of the Malta visa applications from Algerians, is to study English as a foreign language. However, TEFL schools in general have not reported a sudden or noticeable influx of Algerian students, and those which do receive bookings have said that the Algerians do not turn up or just appear for a token lesson and then vanish.