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There are 4 legal ways of obtaining citizenship of Cyprus for non-EU citizens (including Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Chinese citizens):
- Through investment – according to the “Cyprus Investment Program”;
- By naturalization (for persons who have legally resided on the territory of Cyprus for at least 7 years);
- Through marriage with a Cyprus citizen; and
- Due to Cypriot origins.
The simplest and quickest way to obtain Cypriot citizenship is via the “Cyprus Investment Program”, as according to the Program the requirements of potential members are minimal. The Government of Cyprus has established and revised the “Scheme for Naturalization of non-Cypriot investors by exception” amended in 2016.
The Program is one of the simplest among similar programs in Europe and enables the interested party to participate in the Cyprus Investment Program in an unprecedentedly speedy way since this program helps the Cypriot government to steer the country out of economic crisis and encourage investments into the country’s economy.
What are the advantages of obtaining Cyprus citizenship for non-EU citizens (including Russians and Ukrainians)?
There are many undeniable advantages which make Cyprus a very comfortable place for living and doing business.
First of all, it is possible to enjoy favourable climate in the island all year round, with its dry summers and mild winters, approximately 300 sunny days in the year, 7-8 months swimming season, a great number of the cleanest blue flag beaches. Cyprus has a good ecological situation without large industrial enterprises polluting the environment.
Secondly, Cyprus is a developed country with high standards of life, high quality education with a number of reputable state and private educational institutions, social and medical security systems. In addition, Cyprus can boast security and a very low crime rate.
Thirdly, Cyprus is a reliable jurisdiction that offers the stability of its financial and political system, reliable legislative and regulatory framework, providing a wide range of possibilities for efficient tax planning and optimization. Tax legislation in Cyprus is simple and predictable. As the country needs to attract investments, tax rates are quite low.
Fourthly, living expenses in Cyprus are still low in comparison with other developed European countries, despite the country considered being a tourist mecca.
Finally, Cyprus has a multicultural population with the majority being Orthodox Christians. The other significant factor of Cypriot cultural diversity is the English language, which is spoken widely throughout the island.
What are the advantages of the Cyprus Investment Program?
- A Cypriot passport grants its holder all the rights of a EU citizen: the right to education, employment, business in any country of the EU and in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
- Cypriot citizenship is granted to the member of the Program and to the other spouse (including the civil spouse), and to all the children up to 28 years of age who are financially dependent on the applicant. Citizenship is granted automatically to all coming generations of the investor.
- According to the terms of the Program, a Cypriot passport may be obtained within relatively short period of time (6 months), which include 3 months prior to the approval of the investor’s application and 3 following months prior to obtaining the passport.
- The information with respect to the participation in the Program and granting citizenship to the applicant and to members of his (her) family is treated as strictly confidential and cannot be transferred to competent authorities of any other countries (including the investor’s country of the first citizenship or country of permanent residence).
- The investor is not required to live permanently on the territory of Cyprus.
- Visa-free regime for 157 countries (including the UK).
- Dual citizenship is legally allowed.
- No language or history exams are required to be passed by applicants.
- The investor’s parents may apply for the Cyprus Investment Program on condition of acquisition of residential property in Cyprus, the purchase price of each is at least €500.000 (excluding VAT). This option is relatively new since it was introduced in September 2016 as an additional benefit of the Program.
- The minimum level of investment is applicable to the whole family. Moreover, these funds are not treated as non-repayable (unlike in some other countries). The passport will not be nulled even where the investments are withdrawn (recalled) after a period of three years.
What are the possible ways of investment under the terms of the Program?
An investment can be made in the following ways:
- Purchase or construction of buildings or the construction of other land development projects (residential or commercial developments, developments in the tourism sector) or other infrastructure projects, but excluding land plots. Real estate prices are quite affordable and democratic even in the largest cities of Cyprus;
- Purchase or formation, or participation in enterprises or companies which have a physical presence and actually carry on business on the territory of Cyprus and employ at least 5 Cypriot or EU citizens. The other requirement to such companies is significant activity and turnover of such a company or enterprise;
- Investment in alternative investments funds or financial assets of Cypriot companies (bonds, bills and securities) licensed by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. Such investments shall be kept for at least three years. The value of investment shall be confirmed annually to the Ministry of Finance and to the Ministry of Interior.
- A combination of investments with the minimum total amount of investments at the level of €2,000,000. Under this option, the investor may purchase up to €500,000 in Cyprus Government bonds, issued by the Public Debt Management Office of the Ministry of Finance. Acquiring government bonds on the secondary market is not permitted.
What are the basic requirements of investors under the terms of the Program?
- The investor shall invest at least €2,000,000 (excluding VAT). The above- mentioned amount was reduced in 2016 (prior to 2016 it was €2,500,000). The investor shall maintain investments in Cyprus within three years; thereafter these investments may be withdrawn (recalled). However, the investor is required to preserve ownership in personal real estate to the value of at least €500,000. However, in any case residential property may be granted for lease.
- Under any option listed above the investor shall acquire permanent commercial residency within the territory of Cyprus at the cost of at least €500,000 (excluding VAT) and such property shall be retained by the investor for life (unlike the other investments).
- The investor and the member of his (her) family shall have a clean criminal history background, which should be confirmed by reliable documents.
- The investor and the member of his (her) family shall not be included in the list of the persons sanctioned by the EU.
- The investor and the member of his (her) family shall have a residence permit in the Republic of Cyprus in order to apply for Cyprus Investment Program requirements. This requirement is, to a certain extent, a formality implemented by the EU as the investor is granted the above-mentioned permission simultaneously with the submission of the application for naturalization.
To sum up, prospective investors are offered a fast, cost-effective and beneficial program to obtain an EU member state citizenship which grants its holder the absolute right to live, work, study and travel within the EU. The simple and clear procedure, minimum list of requirements, possibility to relocate the whole family (including parents) makes the Cyprus Investment Program quite unique and unprecedented. Our company is willing to assist our clients in preparing the list and submitting the necessary documents, support in complying with all the prescribed requirements and to consult them with regard to all substantial aspects of the Program.
For more information about citizenship by naturalization in Cyprus you may refer at our website, or you may contact Angelos Paphitis or Maria Kontari for particular projects our firm can assist you with.