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Cyprus - Visas, Residency, Immigration & Documentation
The northern part of Cyprus is under the rule of Turkey and has the same visa regulations as the Turkish mainland, but in order to enter the rest of Cyprus there is no need to have a visa to enter Cyprus if staying for less than three months and this applies to the residents of many countries. Those who are resident in the EU do not need a visa; neither do those from countries such as the USA, parts of the Far East and Eastern Europe. A complete list of countries is available from the Immigration department of the Cypriot government.
There are several other categories of person who do not require a visa to visit Cyprus for a short stay. These include those who hold diplomatic passports from various countries and a complete list of these countries is available from the website of the immigration department. Members of airline flight crews do not need visas and ships which have civilian crews do not need visas. Some school groups may be exempt from visas depending upon their country of origin. Those who are in possession of a residence permit, either permanent or temporary, do not need a visa and anybody who has been granted a study permit will not need a separate visa either.
Those who have stamps in their passports from Northern Cyprus may have difficulty entering the rest of the country, as entry used to be refused to those who did. In order to get around this, if you need to visit the northern part of the island then you can request that a separate piece of paper is stamped rather than your passport, but these rules have been relaxed in recent years so you should no longer be refused entry.
Types of Visas
There are several different types of visas that may be required when entering Cyprus. A short stay or travel visas can be issued so that the applicant can use them to enter the country just once or on several occasions. However, the applicant can only spend 3 months out of every 6 in the country on one of these visas. A multiple-entry visa can be valid for just a year although this is at the discretion of the department of immigration.
The residents of some countries may need to have an airport transit visa if they are passing through the country without actually leaving the airport. A list of countries whose nationals need one of these visas is available from the department of immigration, but includes the citizens of Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Nigeria.
A group visa is issued for when there is a group of people travelling on a group passport. This covers a minimum of 5 people and a maximum of 50 and is limited to a stay of 30 days. The conditions attached to this mean that the group has to arrive in the country at the same time and leave at the same time. However, the person organising the group must have their own passport and their own visa.
Long stay visas are issued for a number of reasons, but are mainly for those who are seeking employment in the country or who wish to study there or who are starting their own business. Those who do need a long stay visa to enter the country may apply under one of a number of categories.
There are several categories for those who wish to be self employed. Category A is reserved for those who intend to work within the agricultural area or breeding of cattle or birds for agricultural purposes. In order to qualify for this category an individual must have land to carry out their work or a permit to acquire the land, and should have a certain level of funds available. Category B is for those who want to work within the mining industry as a self employed worker. This category also requires a minimum level of investment.
Category C is the one that most people who wish to be self employed will fall into. This is for those who wish to work in a trade or profession, which covers a wide range of skills and opportunities. Individuals applying in this category will need to have permits to allow them to work in their chosen profession, if applicable, and enough capital to invest in their own business.
Category D is for those who intend to be self employed within an academic or scientific capacity. There would need to be demand for these qualifications and you must be able to prove that you are properly qualified. An applicant must also have adequate funds to start their business and support themselves.
For those who do not wish to become self employed there is Category E, which applies to those who obtain employment. Visas in this category are issued if the individual is not taking a job that could be carried out by a local person. Category F is for those who have their own income and who do not need to work while they are in the country. The income levels required vary and it is advisable to enquire as to which level will apply to you. This will take into consideration the number of dependent persons that are moving to the country with you.
Making an Application
In order to apply for an immigration permit you can send your application form – available on request or to download from the website of the Migration Department – either to the Civil Registry and Migration Department or to the immigration branches of the local police if you are already in the country. All applications need to be accompanied by relevant documentation and payment of the corresponding fee, details of which can be obtained from the immigration department of the Cypriot government.
All applications are considered by the Immigration Control Board which then makes a recommendation to the Ministry of the Interior. Fees for an immigration permit are payable when the application is approved but the permit is not issued until payment is made. Each type of visa has a different fee and will also depend upon how many people are applying.
A citizen of Cyprus is able to invite a foreign national to stay short term in the country. If a visa is required for a short term stay then this can be done through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although a longer stay will require more documentation. A copy of the visitor’s passport, proof of financial means, proof of accommodation during the planned stay, a letter from the bank guaranteeing the funds to repatriate the visitor to their home country if required, two passport sized photographs and the relevant fees are all needed when the application is made.
Applications for visas should be submitted where possible in person. Exceptions can be made for those who live too far away from the nearest consulate to make the trip, but your local consulate will be able to tell you if you qualify for this. In this case you may submit your application by post using a recorded delivery system. The form should be completed fully and signed by the person applying, although if the application is for a child then the form should be signed by the parent or guardian. Two passport photographs need to be included with the application.
The applicant should have a full passport which will need to be valid for longer than the visa being applied for. Short stay visa applications need to be supported by documentation showing the provisional booking of travel arrangements which confirms your plans to return to your country of origin. The Cypriot immigration department advises that applicants do not actually purchase tickets in case their visa application is refused.
Those spending their visit in a hotel or other accommodation should have a letter confirming the arrangements. If visiting for business then a letter of invitation from a Cypriot company is required. A letter of invitation is also required if you are making the visit to relatives and this letter should include all details of the residence being used. The host should also complete an Assumption of Responsibility form.
Evidence of financial support is also required to cover the cost of the stay in the country. This can take the form of a bank statement or traveller’s cheques. A credit card is not considered to be enough on its own and needs to be backed up with a bank statement. Cash is not accepted as proof of financial means.
If moving for a long term stay then letters will be needed from the employer or educational institute or from an accountant or solicitor if the applicant is self employed, to confirm the intention of the applicant during their stay. A host may also be requested to provide a bank guarantee letter to cover the possible cost of repatriating the visitor at the end of the stay. The amount requested for a guarantee will vary depending upon the country of origin of the applicant.
In order to apply for either a temporary or permanent residency permit for Cyprus, you need to make your application to the Civil Registry and Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior. Those who are EU nationals do not need any other paperwork when they first arrive than their passport. There are a certain number of steps that need to be taken if you intend to remain in Cyprus for more than three months.
An application for an Alien Registration Card (ARC) must be made within 8 days of arrival in the country. These cards are essential for stays of longer than three months, particularly if you intend to take up employment in the country. This can be done at the nearest police station which has an immigration branch. There is a fee payable for this card which is the responsibility of the applicant.
An application also needs to be made for a social security number, but this can be done when the applicant has a firm offer of employment. This is done directly to the department of social security and this will be required if making an application for residency based on employment status.
Applying for a residency permit should be done prior to the expiry of the initial three month stay in the country. This needs to be done to the Civil Registration and Migration Department, through the local police immigration branch. The permit will be issued within 6 months of the application date providing all the requested documentation is sent in with the application. Some branches may take longer than 6 months to process the application but can advise you of waiting times when you make the application.
When making an application for a residency permit you will need to provide proof that you have employment or that you have the means to support yourself. If you are supporting yourself you will also need proof that you have health insurance. You will also need to make the application in person at the police immigration branch. Forms can be downloaded from the website of the Ministry of the Interior and are in both Greek and English. There are different forms to complete depending upon your country of origin.
The certificate of residence is also known as the ‘pink slip’, which is confusing as the document is actually yellow. Many of the immigration branches at police stations will not bother to inform you when this document is ready and will just expect you to turn up to collect it, so you will need to check with them regularly. Some offices do work differently, so when you make your application you will need to clarify the procedure for receipt of the document. For an EU national it is not necessary to have this document when beginning work, but you will need to apply for it within the allotted period of time and failure to comply can lead to fines.
There are a certain number of documents which are required when making this application. For EU citizens this includes a valid passport and/or ID card and several photocopies, proof of employment or a certificate of registration with the department of social security if the applicant is self-employed and two passport sized photographs.
If you are hoping to be self employed when you move to Cyprus you may find that additional permits are needed depending upon the type of business. If this is the case you may need to provide proof of qualifications and work experience to support your application for residency.
A person who is retired will need to prove that they have the means to support themselves before they will be issued with a residency permit. This may mean an income such as a pension or employment outside the country. This could also be funds held in a bank either in Cyprus or abroad. As you would not be contributing to the social security system you will also need to have proof of health insurance, although if you have an E121 form you are entitled to healthcare in Cyprus at the same level as a Cypriot resident. Family members are able to apply for residency permits at the same time if they can prove the relationship and a fee must be paid for each member of the family applying. These applications can be made at the same time, although if being joined by a family member at a later date they can be processed separately.
A residence certificate is valid for five years when it is issued for the purposes of employment. For family members they are valid for a period of two years but these are easily renewed if your personal circumstances have not altered and your main residence is still within Cyprus.
Permanent residency is possible for those EU nationals who have lived in Cyprus for five years (uninterrupted stay). These cards are valid unless the individual has to be absent for more than two years from Cyprus. The procedure for applying for permanent residency is the same as for a standard residency card.
For non-EU citizens, there are slightly different regulations and it is recommended that you ensure you get the latest information from your local Cypriot embassy or consulate before you make your application.
A long-term residence visa is required if staying in Cyprus for up to one year and this is for those who are in employment or are self employed but this is renewable every twelve months. A permanent visa can only be issued to those who are married to a Cypriot citizen. Proof of employment must be supplied or self-employment or funds for financial independence.
American citizens are advised to apply for long-term residency before moving to Cyprus if they are planning on staying for more than three months.
As for EU citizens, application forms can be requested or downloaded from the Cypriot department of immigration. The information guides provided tell you exactly what information you need to send with your application.
The northern part of the island is under the rule of Turkey, but the rest has its own government and regulations. There are a number of circumstances in which a person would automatically be considered to be a citizen of Cyprus.
A child under the age of 18 may make an application for citizenship if they have a parent who is a Cypriot citizen. Those over the age of 18 are also able to apply for citizenship if they have Cypriot parentage. Even if the applicant was born and lives in another country, they may hold dual citizenship. Those who are a citizen of the UK or any other Commonwealth country may apply for citizenship if they have lived in Cyprus for one year. Under these circumstances, applications for citizenship can be made to the Cypriot consulate in your country of origin.
A parent who was not born a citizen of Cyprus but has gained citizenship is able to apply for citizenship for their children if they are under the age of 18. Those who are married at to Cypriots have the right to apply for citizenship if they have been married and lived with their spouse for three years. To make an application under these circumstances, an individual would need to provide a marriage certificate, a certificate of good character and birth certificate as well as similar details for their spouse. Two of these three years must be spent living in Cyprus.
In order to make an application for a minor (those under the age of 18) born in another country a birth certificate must be supplied as well as identity cards, passports and the parent’s marriage certificate. For those born either in Cyprus or abroad where one parent has acquired citizenship, a birth certificate, photographs, passports and written consent from the non-Cypriot parent are required.
For adults a copy of a birth certificate along with the relevant application form is all that is required initially. The form that is used depends exactly when you were born and your local Cypriot consulate is able to advise you of this. Those applying as a citizen of Britain or the Commonwealth with Cypriot heritage will need to send their birth certificate, a photocopy of their passport and a police certificate stating that they are of good character.
Those who have married a Cypriot citizen will need to send a copy of their marriage certificate with their application form, along with birth certificates of both spouses, a police certificate of good character and a certificate stating that the couple has cohabited since their marriage.
Those who have no Cypriot heritage may also apply for citizenship by a process of naturalisation. In the 8 years prior to their application, the individual must have spent a minimum of 5 years residing in Cyprus. Those who are sports players or coaches, or who work for international or Cypriot employers must have a minimum residency of 7 years. For this application a birth certificate, passport, police certificate of good character and photographs must be included. They must also place an advertisement in a Cypriot newspaper for two days running to announce that they are applying for citizenship.
There are varying fees for different types of applications and your local Cypriot embassy or consulate can supply applicants with an up to date list. Fees are generally non-refundable and must be sent with the application. Applications made on the wrong forms will be rejected, so it is important to clarify your position with the embassy or the Immigration department in Cyprus when you request the form to ensure you receive the right one.
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