One of the key sections of the Special Branch is the Immigration Section. Its principal task is to control the island’s points of entry, which include checks aimed at suppressing illegal immigration, preventing illegal entry of foreigners and detection of false documents. Immigration officers together with civilian officers are deployed at the Malta International Airport, while other officers perform duties at the Sea Terminal in Valletta, the Yacht Marina at Msida and the Harbour of Mgarr, Gozo, where a yacht Marina is located.
To enhance border entry, equipment for forgery identification has been set up at the Airport and the Seaport. Additionally a Central Document Examination Unit, which is manned by professionally trained officers, is also found at the Police Headquarters, where the Central Immigration Office is set up.
The Central Immigration Office at the Police Headquarters, deals with various issues relating to expatriates. The processing of Visas is entrusted with the various administrative duties related to foreigners, and includes the processing requests of residence permits, processing of acquisition of property files, nationality requests and work permits.
A unit within the Immigration Section deals with field duties and as such, various immigration-related investigations and enquires are dealt with from this section. Gazetted officers at this section are responsible to issue return notices to third-country nationals who are found to be staying illegally or in breach of other related immigration provisions. In addition to these duties, this Section is also responsible to make repatriation arrangements and escort arrangements where necessary, of foreigners who had been discovered illegally on the island or where applicable, the repatriation of scores of boat people who are reaching the Maltese shores from the North African region. This is done either through charter flights, joint flights with other EU Member States or else if the circumstances so allow, on schedule flights as well. For this purpose very close cooperation is ensured with the Office of the Refugee Commissioner to ascertain that those who request refugee status are given all facilities and assistance to have their requests entertained and decided at all stages.
As a result of the heavy influx of boat people, accommodation centers have been set up during the last years and a designated Detention Service caters for its upkeep.
The Immigration is also responsible to process immigration related requests for all third country nationals as well as the processing of visa