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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). The G Georgalla Law Firm website can be accessed at www.georgallalaw.com.
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||
|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|
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