The Cyprus Investment Programme is ranked among the top 10 programmes in the world for global citizenship. It was established to attract foreign direct investment and encourage high-net-worth individuals to settle and conduct business in Cyprus, thereby boosting the nation's economy. One of the programme's key features is its investment policy, under which non-EU citizens can obtain Cypriot citizenship by making specific investments. This article examines recent amendments to the programme.
Cyprus's immigration policy and legal framework enable EU and non-EU applicants to obtain Cypriot citizenship on an expedited basis. The government has formulated a fast-track citizenship scheme aimed at high-net-worth individuals, investors and entrepreneurs. This allows successful applicants and their families to hold a Cypriot passport and enjoy all of the benefits afforded to Cyprus and EU nationals.
The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme is considered among the world's most successful immigrant investor programmes, offering high-net-worth individuals and their families the fastest route to EU citizenship. The government is expected to announce new measures shortly by means of a regulation committee, which will oversee and vet real estate developers and other immigration service providers in order to ensure that all parties concerned adhere to a code of conduct.
In its recent study of citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes, the Financial Times' Professional Wealth Management ranked Cyprus ahead of other EU countries for its highly attractive travel and residency requirements. The Cyprus CBI programme was first introduced in 2002 at a premium investment of €15 million. The existing scheme became more competitive in 2013 and even more so following the Council of Ministers' September 2016 revisions.
Cyprus recently adopted the start-up visa for third-country nationals interested in residing and investing in innovative businesses in Cyprus. The scheme allows talented entrepreneurs from non-European Economic Area countries to reside in Cyprus and establish, operate or develop their own innovative start-up companies with high growth potential, provided that they meet certain criteria.
The Ministry of the Interior recently introduced improved provisions to the popular permanent residence permit scheme, with the aim of establishing it as one of the most competitive real estate investment programmes in Europe. The simpler and accelerated procedure provides for a permanent residence permit to be granted through investment to non-EU nationals if they meet the scheme's requirements.
Cabinet recently approved changes to the citizenship-through-investment programme, which has already attracted over €2 billion of direct investment into the Cypriot economy. The most significant changes include the reduction of the upper threshold of required investment for a single applicant to €2 million, the abolition of the €5 million bank deposit requirement and the issue of a residence permit to applicants on submission of an application.
The Aliens and Immigration Law was recently amended to incorporate a number of changes concerning the issuance of residence permits. As a result, the parents of the main applicant and the parents of his or her spouse can now apply for a permanent residence permit and dependants between 18 and 25 will be granted a permanent residence permit as long as they can provide a university or college certificate.
The Cyprus minister of interior recently introduced an improved, simplified and accelerated procedure for the grant of a permanent residence permit through investment. As this scheme targets retirees and high-net-worth individuals, it does not allow the visa holder to take any form of paid or unpaid employment in Cyprus and further provides that he or she may be absent from Cyprus for up to two years.
Cyprus offers a citizenship-through-investment programme that results in immediate citizenship. A second passport from Cyprus gives its holder the right to live, work, travel and own property anywhere in the European Union and the ability to travel without a visa to more than 165 countries. To qualify for citizenship, applicants must make a minimum investment of €2.5 million in real estate or a €5 million investment and a €500,000 real estate purchase.
New terms and criteria have been introduced through regulations recently adopted by the ministers of the interior and finance, respectively, for the exceptional naturalisation of foreign businesspersons in Cyprus for public interest reasons. Under the conditions, businesspersons may become a Cypriot citizen without having to reside in Cyprus for seven continuous years.