Introduction

Due to the latest political developments worldwide, the political unrest many countries are facing and the fact that many European and non-European countries (including Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and even Canada and Australia) are threatening to close their borders, high-net worth individuals from different parts of the world – primarily the Middle East, Africa, China, Russia and the Indian subcontinent – are attracted to obtaining a second citizenship through investment programmes for a variety of reasons. Advantages of using these programmes include:

  • the luxury of visa-free travel;
  • establishing a safer second residence in times of political unrest in their home country;
  • securing the best education and health facilities for their families; and
  • developing and simplifying their business activities.

Cyprus offers the fastest and most cost-effective citizenship-through-investment programme worldwide which results in immediate citizenship and residence.(1)

A second passport from Cyprus gives its holder:

  • the right to live, work, travel and own property anywhere in the European Union;
  • the right to travel without a visa to more than 165 countries;
  • the ability to obtain a visa for the remaining countries quickly and at a reasonable cost;
  • access to the best healthcare and educational institutions in the European Union;
  • political protection in the European Union;
  • easy access to global banks and free trade within the European Union; and
  • low tax rates.

To qualify for citizenship, applicants must meet one of the requirements outlined in the investment options below.

Preliminary requirements

In addition to making a financial investment, applicants must also:

  • hold a valid passport;
  • provide documents to illustrate the origin of the funds declared for investment;
  • provide proof that they have no criminal record;
  • demonstrate that they are not on the list of persons whose assets have been frozen within the European Union; and
  • pay the application fee.

Investment requirements

Under the Civil Registry Law, foreign nationals who wish to obtain Cypriot citizenship through investment must:

  • hold a permanent privately owned residence in Cyprus with a purchase price of at least €500,000 plus value-added tax; and
  • choose one of the prescribed €5 million investment options for individuals or invest at least €2.5 million in an approved collective investment scheme worth at least €12.5 million and maintain the investment for the required duration.

Investment options

The investment options for foreign nationals who wish to take part in the citizenship-through-investment programme include:

  • government bonds;
  • the financial assets of Cypriot companies or organisations (ie, bonds, securities and debentures);
  • real estate, land development and infrastructure projects;
  • the sole or joint purchase or creation of Cypriot businesses or companies based and operating in Cyprus and employing at least five Cypriot citizens;
  • a fixed-term deposit in a Cypriot bank for a minimum of three years; or
  • a mixed investment in a combination of the options listed above;

Foreign nationals whose deposits with the Bank of Cyprus or Popular Bank were lost after March 15 2013 are also eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship.

Appeal of Cyprus to investors

Cyprus is a popular choice for foreign investors who wish to avail of the citizenship-through-investment programme, because of its:

  • multi-ethnic culture;(2)
  • mild Mediterranean climate, which makes the island an ideal holiday destination;
  • safe and stable location, which is ideal for raising families due to the low crime rate, excellent education system and first-rate healthcare system;
  • strategic geographic location for business and travel between the European Union, the Middle East and North Africa
  • direct access to the Mediterranean's numerous business and investment opportunities; and
  • low-cost and high-quality business services supported by the Cypriot workforce, which is young, mobile, dynamic and well educated.

Benefits of citizenship-through-investment programme

The benefits of the citizenship-through-investment programme include:

  • a fast-track procedure providing a direct path to citizenship within two to three months;
  • the lack of physical residence requirements during or after the application procedure (the only requirement is for a visit every seven years);
  • the lack of language requirements for residence or citizenship;
  • the fact that dependent children under 28 years of age qualify for citizenship on the basis of their parents' application; and
  • the lack of an obligation to relinquish existing nationality.

For further information on this topic please contact Georgia Georgalla at G Georgalla Law Firm by telephone (+357 22 35 32 90) or email (gogo@georgallalaw.com). The G Georgalla Law Firm website can be accessed at www.georgallalaw.com.

Endnotes

(1) Comparison of citizenship programmes

 

EU programmes with immediate citizenship

Non-EU programmes with immediate citizenship Non-EU residency programmes
  Austria Cyprus Malta St Kitts and Nevis Dominica Singapore USA
               
Type of programme Citizenship Citizenship Residence permit leading to citizenship Citizenship Citizenship

Permanent residency

Two years of residency visa leading to green card
Programme benefits EU citizenship and visa-free travel EU citizenship and visa-free travel EU citizenship and visa-free travel Visa-free travel Visa-free travel Permanent residency and expedited path to citizenship Permanent residency and expedited path to citizenship
Minimum time period to qualify for citizenship Immediate Immediate 18 months Immediate Immediate Two years of residency Five years of continuous residence; 30 months of physical residence
Application processing time 12 to 24 months Two months Six months Two to eight months Six to 12 months Eight to 10 months 12 to 18 months
Minimum investment €10 million direct investment €2.5 million investment collectively or €5million investment – €500,000 real estate purchase €650,000 donation to the National Development and Social Fund and €350,000 investment in real estate and €150,000 in eligible stocks and bonds or debentures $250,000 donation or $400,000 real estate purchase $100,000 irrevocable investment or $200,000 family option that includes spouses and two children S$2.5 million investment in a global investor programme or business $500,000 investment in a EB-5 regional centre fund
Minimum outlay for single applicant $4.16 million $4.16 million $1.22 million $250,000 $100,000 $2 million $500,000
Investment recovery Subjective Three years Five years (partial recovery) N/A N/A N/A N/A
Passport benefits Visa-free travel to 168 countries Visa-free travel to 165 countries and 100% return of investment Visa-free travel to 163 countries Visa-free travel to 131 countries Visa-free travel to 87 countries and all Schengen states by 2025 Visa-free travel to 167 countries Visa-free travel to 172 countries

(2) The Cypriot population is approximately 80.9% Greek, 0.2% Turkish, 4.1% English, 2.9% Romanian, 2.5% Russian, 2.2% Bulgarian, 1.2% Arabic, 1.1% Filipino and 4.3% other nationalities.

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