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Cyprus > Moving

Cyprus

What Do The New Residency Rules In Cyprus Mean For You?

Published Friday November 10, 2017 (13:54:05)

 

The Republic of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean region is known for its slow pace of life and relaxed lifestyle, meaning it’s an ideal location for expats looking for a more laidback experience. English-speaking expats find it easy to integrate into the local society since most people in Cyprus speak English, as the country was once part of the British Empire. In addition, the country has a high standard of education. Cyprus’s cost of living is affordable compared to the average cost in the European Union (EU). One of the biggest attractions of this sunny destination is the low tax rates, which are the reason some international entrepreneurs choose Cyprus as the base for their business.

There are many advantages to becoming a permanent resident in Cyprus. Since the country is a full member of the European Union, it accords its citizens with an excellent quality of life, high standard of living and low living costs. Attaining permanent residency in Cyprus and Cypriot citizenship is a quick, simple process. Cyprus is soon to become a member of the Schengen Area, enabling Cypriot permanent residents to travel freely across Europe. Currently, the process of obtaining a Schengen Visa for those who are Cypriot permanent residents is extremely easy; the entire process takes about an hour, and the visa lasts for two years.

Permanent residents of Cyprus are eligible to receive reduced costs of tuition in Europe. Cyprus is known to adhere to high standards when it comes to education, and has some excellent private and international schools that are affiliated with educational institutions abroad. Permanent residency also applies to the spouse and children under the age of 18. Children above 18 are permitted to reside in the country according to the Family Reunification Act. Permanent residents of Cyprus are eligible to own property and do not have to pay inheritance tax. The country also has the lowest property tax in the world. Being a citizen of Cyprus means that you can travel freely across Europe. Cyprus also has robust infrastructure, a well-connected telecommunications system and enjoys a warm, sunny climate for most of the year.


Fast Track To European Residency

Individuals who make significant investments in Cyprus are eligible for a fast-tracked European residency or citizenship. There are two ways to pursue this route. Investors may opt for citizenship directly, or may choose to apply for permanent residency if they invest a lesser amount. The minimum investment required under this citizenship via investment scheme is €2million in the form of real estate or eligible investments in Cyprus. Through this method, individuals can obtain citizenship directly, and those who qualify are accorded the rights and privileges of EU members, along with their eligible family members. In the permanent residency program, the investment must be at least €300,000 along with a capital deposit of €30,000 euros.

These two schemes involve fast processing times, meaning citizenship or residency can be obtained in just two to three months. The residency requirements involved are also simpler. In both programs, applicants can include eligible family members. With citizenship or permanent residency of Cyprus, it is possible to travel freely throughout the EU.


Eligibility And Requirements

Both the citizenship and permanent residency through investment programs differ in characteristics and investment amount, and have varying requirements. In both programs, applicants must show proof of a clean criminal record. Any documents accompanying the application that are not originally in English or Greek must be translated, and all funds that go into the investment must originate from outside of Cyprus. The spouses and children up to the age of 28 can also be naturalized in the citizenship scheme. However, according to permanent residency requirements, investors can include their spouses and minor children as dependents.

Children between the ages of 18 and 25 can also be included if they are students. A permanent residency investor’s parents can qualify for citizenship by exception if they have bought a permanent residence in Cyprus worth at least €500,000.


Citizenship

In order to bring in foreign direct investment into Cyprus, the Cypriot government has provided many incentives. One such incentive is the citizenship via investment scheme, in which an individual who invests an amount higher than €2million in real estate and who fulfills certain other criteria can gain full Cypriot citizenship. Those who become citizens through this route can enjoy the right to live and work across any member states of the EU.

In September 2016, the Cypriot government announced certain alterations to the citizenship via investment program. This included the lowering of the minimum amount of investment required to become eligible for the program. For example, the amount needed was reduced from €2.5million to €2million. The government also made it possible for investors to include their parents if an additional €500,000 is invested in the form of a private residence in the country.

Any individual can become eligible for citizenship in Cyprus through naturalization by exception if they fulfill one of the following investment requirements:

• A minimum investment of €2million towards the purchase of real estate or construction of developments or infrastructure projects.
• A minimum investment of €2million towards buying, establishing or participating in businesses or companies that operate within the country, have a considerable presence in Cyprus, and employ a minimum of five Cypriot citizens.
• A purchase from the alternative investment funds units worth at least €2million. This also includes the buying of financial assets, such as bonds, securities and so on, from businesses or companies based in Cyprus.
• A minimum investment of €2million in a combination of the above.

In addition to choosing an investment option, it is also necessary to buy a property in Cyprus for lifetime possession that will officially be the applicant’s Cypriot residence. The worth of this property should be at least €500,000. The property can then be included in the €2million investment.

The advantages of the citizenship-by-investment program include automatic citizenship of any member country of the EU; the right to study, live and work across EU member states; the right to be protected under the EU social and legal system; citizenship for the included family members; the freedom to travel to 158 countries across the world without a visa; and no obligation of wealth donation.

Individuals can apply personally or employ the services of a company in which the applicant can serve as a shareholder. The process of acquiring citizenship in Cyprus is a straightforward procedure, but planning and structuring the investment may require a level of detail. It may be advisable to consult a company that has the local and international expertise and a good success rate of helping applicants obtain citizenship within the stipulated three-month period. The company must have experience in working with investors upon which due diligence checks have been conducted.


Permanent Residency

Cyprus’s agreeable climate and good geographical location in the eastern Mediterranean region mean that many expats seek permanent residency in the country. In keeping with the drive to attract foreign investment into Cyprus to aid in its economic development, the government has simplified the rules pertaining to issuing residence permits to those from non-European countries. However, there are still some conditions which need to be met.

The primary requirement for obtaining permanent residency in Cyprus is that the applicant must purchase new immovable property that has a market net worth of at least €300,000. The application must be accompanied by a sale contract and payment proof stating the amount of at least €200,000. The sale contract needs to be submitted to the Cyprus department of land and surveys. The applicant can also purchase the property via a company, but the company must be registered in his or her name, or the applicant and his or her spouse, wherein they are the only shareholders.

The investor must secure a letter from a local bank in Cyprus, which shows that they have made a deposit of at least €30,000 from overseas. This account then needs to be locked for a period of three years, after which the funds can be released.

Proof of annual income from overseas, in the form of pensions, rents, shares and so on is also a requirement. The applicant must show proof of receiving a yearly income of a minimum of €30,000 from an overseas country. For each dependent person, the income must increase to €8,000, and for each additional child, it must rise by €5,000.

The application must be submitted along with a fee of €500 and an additional €50 for biometric capturing. This can be done when the application is submitted, during the process or soon after the permit is approved. The civil registry and migration department will evaluate the application and then send it to the ministry of interior. Obtaining an approval takes about two months. After this, the applicant and family members must visit Cyprus within a year to collect the permit.

Obtaining permanent residency in Cyprus via investment takes only two months if all requirements are met. Applicants do not necessarily have to live in Cyprus, but only need to visit once every couple of years. The applicant’s dependents can join any of Cyprus’s reputed private schools, which provide courses in English. The residence includes the entire family, which can include the applicant’s parents and dependent children between ages 18 to 25. The process for obtaining permanent residency can be carried out without the applicant having to be present in Cyprus. However, a visit for the biometric capturing is required.

Individuals can also seek permanent residency in a conventional manner as well as through investment. EU nationals who wish to stay in Cyprus for more than three months or wish to work in the country must apply for an alien registration certificate from the local immigration department of the police within eight days of their arrival in Cyprus. Anyone planning to work in Cyprus also need to make an application for a social insurance number and a residence permit, which must be applied for within the three-month period. The permit is usually issued within six months. The documents required for this include a valid passport or ID card and a document showing that the individual has secured employment in Cyprus stamped by the Labor Department.

Non-EU nationals can apply for a temporary residence permit by contacting the local immigration office and submitting their passport, copy of a bank statement, documents showing income sources, passport photos, medical insurance and a bank deposit of €550. The permit can be valid from one to four years, and can be extended later within a month prior to the expiry date.

To acquire a permanent residence permit, non-EU nationals must show proof that they along with their family members have sufficient finances and have stayed in Cyprus continuously for five years. They also need to fall into one of the following categories:

• They must have a Cypriot bank account, a property purchase agreement and evidence that their annual income is at least €9,570 per person.
• They must be interested in establishing a business in Cyprus.
• They must be interested in starting a business segment in the country, provided it won’t negatively affect the economic situation.
• They intend to work in a Cypriot company, provided that their employment will not contribute to unemployment among the local community in that particular field.

The application for permanent residence must be accompanied by a passport, copy of real estate purchase contract, copies of funds paid to the contractor for the purchased property, copy of bank statement, document indicating income sources, passport photos and a letter of guarantee from a Cypriot bank.


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