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Cyprus - Visas

All expats who intend to apply for a visa for Cyprus should be aware of the political situation in the country. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognize the current secessionist north and, consequently, its visa rules only apply to the Greek-Cypriot controlled area of the island. All ports of entry in the Turkish-occupied north, including airports, are considered illegal by the Cyprus government. It is strongly advised that valid visa holders enter Cyprus through the south, to avoid any potential problems with the law. The Airports of Larnaca and Paphos, and the ports of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Latsi are legal points of entry into the country, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cyprus.

Regardless of the visa held, Cyprus demands passports when entering the country, except for members of European Union states, and also citizens of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, who can enter the country with their national identity cards. Even though Cyprus is a member of the European Union, it is not part of the Schengen Area. All those who want to move to Cyprus in order to work must be aware of the financial situation in this country. It is pretty difficult to find employment on the island for most foreigners.

Tourist Visas for Cyprus

Visas for this country can be issued by Cypriot embassies and general consulates. In cases where these diplomatic missions aren’t accessible, they are obtainable at some honorary consulates. There are some nationalities that don't need a visa to stay in Cyprus for up to 3 months, as long as they're just visiting the country. This is common for visitors from the European Economic Area, as well as citizens of the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Residents from non-EU countries such as India and South Africa must obtain a visa for Cyprus.

Business visas for Cyprus

Standard tourist visa requirements are similar to business visas. The additional requirement for business ones is an employer's letter, to attest to the applicant's salary. Self-employed expats should provide a solicitor’s, bank manager’s or accountant's letter.

For those who travel on a business trip, it is crucial to produce an official letter of invitation from a company in the Republic of Cyprus.

Residence and work permits for Cyprus

While visas only allow expats to enter the country, they must apply for a long term residence permit if they plan to stay for an extended period. Residence and immigration permits in Cyprus are administered by the Civil Registry and Migration Department or CRMD.

Immigration permits for Cyprus

According to legislation, only expats who find themselves within certain categories can apply for an immigration permit after arriving in the country. The Immigration Control Committee is the institution which determines whether the application is valid or not. The most common categories that expats qualify under require the following from the applicant:

- Expats have enough money at the disposal which allows them to have a decent life in Cyprus without having to work. When it comes to determining the amount of money required, it is the job of the Immigration Control Board. In any case, expats should expect the sum of around 10,000 EUR per person excluding dependents. This is the most common category, which includes pensioners and retirees.
- Expats have a permanent employment offer that wouldn’t create undue local competition.
- Expats intend to be self-employed, and have the relevant permits and adequate funds at their disposal.

Temporary residence and employment permits for Cyprus

This two-in-one Temporary Residence and Employment Permit for Cyprus can be generally submitted by an employer of the CRMD or the police’s Aliens and Immigration Unit. The Ministry of Employment and Social Insurances needs to certify the valid employment contract, to prove that there are no Cypriots or EU citizens who are qualified and available to fill the post, before considering a third country national as an option for the mentioned post.

Once that first stage is completed, citizens from non-EU countries must register at their local Aliens and Immigration Unit or CRMD office within seven days of arriving in the country.

Under this particular permit, expats are free to stay and work in Cyprus for four years unless:

- They are highly skilled employees in a company with a significant turnover
- They are a part of middle management or key workers in a company with foreign activities
- They are qualified and registered medical professional
- They are athletes, coaches or painters of religious icons

Even those non-EU citizens who are married to a Cypriot national have to apply for a working residence permit if they intend to work. It all makes getting into Cyprus on a long-term basis slightly difficult for many expats.

Making an Application

In order to properly apply for an immigration permit, all people must send their application form to the Civil Registry and Migration Department or to the immigration branches of the local police if they have already entered the country. The application form is available on request or can be downloaded from the website of the Migration Department.

All these applications have to be accompanied by relevant documentation and payment of the corresponding fee. All the details can be obtained from the immigration department of the Cypriot government. These applications must first be considered by the Immigration Control Board. After that step, the ICB makes a recommendation to the Ministry of the Interior. Fees for an immigration permit can be paid after the application is approved, and the permit cannot be issued until the payment is made. Fees vary regarding the type of visa and also depend upon how many people are applying for it.

However, citizens of Cyprus can invite foreign nationals to stay short term in the country. If a visa is required for this short term stay, then it should be acquired through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The longer stay, the more documentation will be required. To apply for a short-term visa you will need:

- A copy of your passport
- Proof of financial means
- Proof of accommodation during the planned stay
- Letter from the bank guaranteeing the funds to repatriate the visitor to their home country if needed
- Two passport sized photographs
- All the required fees

It is much better when applications for visas are submitted in person, if possible. Exceptions are usually made for those who live too far from the nearest consulate, but it's the local consulate that tells people if they qualify for this. In this case expats must submit the application by post, using a recorded delivery system. The form must be fully completed and signed by the applicant, except for children, whose forms should be signed by parents or guardians. It is important to send two passport photographs with the application.

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