Cyprus offers several benefits to foreign investors and their dependent family members who are looking for a jurisdiction that offers a gateway to Europe, high quality standards of living and working infrastructure and services. An EU member-state since 2004, Cyprus also offers a low personal taxation system, good infrastructure, a nice climate and low criminality.
A) BENEFITS OF NATURALIZATION
A foreign investor or businessman may consider naturalization to enjoy the following benefits amongst others:
- The right to free movement, residence, work and study within the 28 countries of the
- Protection by EU legislation and regulations
- Visa-free travel to more than 150 countries in the world
- A safe and stable permanent alternative to his current country of residence
- Combination of tax incentives
- Comprehensive double tax treaties network that offers an effective tool for international tax planning
- The Cypriot personal income tax regime, through the 2015 introduction of the “non-domicile” concept, is now widely considered as the most attractive onshore personal income tax regime in the world
- By obtaining Cyprus citizenship and passport one does not automatically become tax resident of Cyprus, unless he spends more than 183 days in the country in one calendar year
On 13.09.2016, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus, issued a decision whereby certain criteria and conditions in relation to the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by exception” (on the basis of the Civil Registry Laws 2002-2015) have been relaxed. These amendments are in line with the strategy of the Cypriot Government to further attract Foreign Direct Investment and enhance the competitiveness of Cyprus, making it even easier and more beneficial to acquire the Cyprus nationality.
The applicants must fulfil the following three prerequisites whatever the mode of investment:
- A clear criminal record
Any persons sanctioned by the EU are not qualified to apply.
- Hold a permanent privately-owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, the purchase price of which must be at least € 500.000 (five hundred thousand euro) plus VAT.
It must be noted that members of the same family who apply separately as investors, can collectively acquire a residence, provided that the total value of this property covers the amount of € 500.000 (five hundred thousand euro) per each applicant. Spouses/cohabitees and children up to the age of 28 that are financially dependent on the qualifying foreign investor are also granted citizenship without having to meet any further financial criteria. Parents of an investor can also be granted citizenship provided they acquire a residence in the Republic of Cyprus for the price of €500.000 (five hundred thousand euro) plus VAT.
- The applicant before its naturalization as a Cypriot citizen, must hold a residency permit in the Republic of Cyprus.
In case the applicant is not already a holder of a residency permit, may submit an application for an immigration permit at the same time while submitting an application for naturalization.
C) CRITERIA OF QUALIFICATION FOR NATURALIZATION
A non-Cypriot citizen will be eligible to obtain Cypriot Citizenship if one of the following criteria is met:
- Investment in real estate, land development and infrastructure projects
The applicant must have made an investment of at least €2 million (two million euro) for the purchase or construction of buildings or for the construction of other land development projects (residential or commercial developments, developments in the tourism sector) or other infrastructure related projects.
On the basis of this criterion, the investment in land under development is also included, provided that the investment will be supported with an investment plan for the development of the purchased land.
- Investment in financial assets of Cypriot companies
The applicant must have made an investment in the purchase, creation or participation in companies that are based and operating in the Republic of Cyprus, amounting to at least €2 million (two million euro). The respective amount must be invested to financially support the local operations of the companies.
The investment to be made should be supported by a comprehensive investment plan. It should be noted that these companies must have proven physical presence and significant activity in Cyprus with substantial turnover and employ at least 5 (five) Cypriot or European Union citizens, who have been legally and continuously living in Cyprus for a minimum of 5 (five) years preceding the submission of the respective application. The minimum number of employees of the specific company increases in the event that more than 1 (one) applicant invests in the same company.
- Investment in Alternative Investment Funds (AIF’s) or financial assets of Cypriot companies or Cypriot companies licensed by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec)
The applicant must have purchased units from AIF’s which are established, licensed and supervised in Cyprus by CySec, amounting to at least €2 million (two million euro). Such investments must be exclusively made in the Republic of Cyprus and fulfil the criteria of the Scheme and be approved by the Minister of Finance. In order to confirm that the investments made, under this criterion, will be retained for at least a three-year period, the manager or the auditor of the Fund should provide annual reports to the Ministry of Interior and Finance with reference to the value of the initial investment. An investor may acquire financial assets of Cyprus companies such as bonds, bills and securities amounting to at least €2 million (two million euro), issued with the approval of CySec, by companies that have proven physical presence and substantial economic activity in the Republic and aim to finance the investment plans of these companies exclusively in Cyprus. The investment to be made in this respect, should be supported by a comprehensive investment plan.
- Combination of the aforementioned investment criteria (C.1-3)
The applicant may make a combination of the above investments, provided that the total investment will amount to at least € 2 million (two million euro).
Under this criterion, the investor may also invest in government bonds of Cyprus for the amount up to € 500.000 (five hundred thousand euro) , which will be issued for this purpose by the Public Debt Management Office of the Ministry of Finance, for a period of at least 3 (three) years.
There is no language requirement, medical test or interview for citizenship applicants.
Investments can be made personally or through vehicles such as companies or trusts.
The investor is obliged to retain the investment for at least three years after the date of the acquisition of the Cypriot Citizenship.
The examination of the application takes approximately (6) six months.
Our office specialises in this field and our team of lawyers and immigration assistants can take care of your specific request. Feel free to contact us to provide you with the list of the necessary documentation which is needed to be supported accompanied with the Application for citizenship and visa F.
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for information purposes only and does not constitute a substitution for professional advice. No responsibility can be accepted by the authors or the publishers for any loss occasioned by acting or refraining from acting on the basis of this information.