Cyprus Citizenship By Investment & Residency By Investment
In an effort to boost foreign investment in Cyprus, on the 24th of May 2013 the local government relaxed the conditions and procedures for obtaining Cyprus Citizenship By Investment and Residency permits for foreign investors.
Chinese and Russians are some of the non-EU residents that have chosen Cyprus during the past year for investing in an overseas property and have also been issued a Permanent Residency or Citizenship, thus gaining access to Europe.
Other important reasons why non-EU residents are interested in these schemes seems to be the fact that Cyprus is a gateway to Europe, offers a high standard of living, modern transport and infrastructure, excellent academic institutions, access to quality medical services, a stable government, a robust legal framework which is fully harmonized with EU directives and a beautiful holiday and retirement destination.
There are two main programs whereby non-Europeans can travel or reside in Cyprus without the need of having a visa. These are the permanent residence permit and the Cyprus Citizenship By Investment schemes.
Permanent Residence Permit – Category F (“PRP”)
The PRP is granted on the condition that the applicant will not take up employment in Cyprus. An important advantage of this scheme is that once the Permit is granted, it is valid for a lifetime and it applies also for the applicant’s spouse and dependent children.
It is important to mention that recently there has been an acceleration for granting the permit and nowadays it can be secured within 1-2 months from the application date. The only requirement to maintain the PRP, is that the holder must visit Cyprus at least once every two years – no need for the holder to be a permanent residence in Cyprus.
The main criteria required to apply for an Immigration Permit in Cyprus are:
Acquisition of property of a minimum of €300.000;
Clean criminal record.
Cyprus Citizenship By Investment
The Cyprus Citizenship By Investment scheme focuses- and mostly applies on foreign high net worth individuals who may be granted the Cypriot citizenship and obtain a Cypriot Passport (always at the discretion of the Council of Ministers) and consequently benefit from all the advantages of an EU Passport.
The main criteria are:
Direct investment of €5.000.000 ;
Or combination of investment of €2.000.000 and a donation of €500.000 to a government fund;
Or business activities for three years in Cyprus that result to a total of €1.500.000 towards expenses (taxes, fees, V.A.T, services) all paid in Cyprus;
Alternatively, through major Collective Investments where the Council of Ministers shall have the right (on special occasions), to reduce the above criteria to:
€2,5 million for investors, who demonstrably participate in a special collective investment scheme, provided that the total value of the investment is at least €12,5 million;
In all of the above cases the applicant should also meet the below requirements:
Acquisition of property of a minimum of €500.000;
Clean criminal record.
What you need to consider when selecting an immigration solution:
The jurisdiction should offer financial, political and social stability coupled with an attractive tax regime. Applicants can benefit from the fiscal benefits in Cyprus e.g. low personal income tax, no inheritance taxes and low property taxes;
Speed and process of application:
The respective immigration authorities should handle the applications in an efficient and prompt manner. In Cyprus, the fast track citizenship and PR applications are handled with utmost urgency. The applicant can include their dependent spouse and children on the application, and they are not required to travel to Cyprus to submit the immigration application. We expect that visas will be issued within 6 to 8 months;
Return on Investment:
Real-estate investment is required for both PR and citizenship applications. Currently, property is available at competitive prices;
Criteria for maintaining the permit:
Once issued a PR permit is indefinite and will not be withdrawn. Cyprus PR holders will enjoy equal treatment with nationals with regards to social benefits, education, welfare, and access to EU territories.
Cyprus fits the bill. It offers a great solution for high net worth individuals to obtain residency and citizenship in a country within the EU.
Contributed by: Phivos Michaelides, LL.B, LL.M ( P.michaelides@Freemontgroup.com)
This guide is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to. Readers should take legal advice before applying the information contained in this publication to specific issues or transactions.
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