The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus has made a decision to set a quota for the number of Cyprus citizenship by investment program participants. Now, the maximum annual number of candidates who can apply for the country’s citizenship corresponds to 700, with the term of a case consideration taking at least 6 months. The mentioned changes were approved on May 21, 2018. The modified program has now a different name, the Cyprus Investment Scheme.
The Mediterranean stronghold has been lately criticized over the system of economic citizenship issuance. In particular, in March 2018 the European Commission representatives announced the plan to investigate the issuance of Cyprus passports to millionaire investors. The initiative was reasoned by the fact of the program is hindering the anti-corruption war in the EU and increasing the risk of illegal transactions and money laundering.
In connection with this, Cypriot authorities decided to reconsider the program’s conditions. Numerous amendments were introduced in May. Responding to the criticism from the European side, the finance minister, Harris Georgiades, announced the changes and denied the rumours about corruption schemes involved in the program.
The minister noted: “We reject the idea that the passport of Cyprus is up for sale. We do not depend on this scheme, but it is a useful addition to the tools encouraging the economic growth of the country.”
The major change concerns the number of investors who can apply for citizenship.
Starting from 2018, the annual quota is 700 candidates, excluding their family members.
Other amendments include:
- Ethical code development. The ethical code will contain rules for intermediaries (immigration consultants, development companies representatives, etc.). The main aim of this change introduction is to avoid program misuse and aggressive marketing and thus to increase investors loyalty.
- Thorough due diligence. All the applicants will have to undergo a more detailed due diligence. It is planned to attract experts from an international company conducting such checks (forensic).
Note! Due diligence costs are to be covered by applicants. The minimum term of application processing will be increased from 3 to 6 months.
- Change of ‘investment in residential real estate’ option. If the property is purchased during the construction stage (it primarily concerns vacant construction lands), the minimum retention period will be 3 years, with the countdown starting after the planning permit issuance.
- Reinvestment in a real estate object. The property that was previously invested in with the aim of getting economic citizenship, can be used for investment by another candidate only one more time. What is more, one will have to additionally contribute at least €1,000,000 into this property.
The conditions of the last point are quite controversial and need explanation from the government. Does the amendment concern only residential properties or commercial objects, too? Does the investment limitation extend to the contributions through special funds? How will this change work de facto in case one investor purchases several objects at the required price, but with only one of them previously used for obtaining economic citizenship? Will one have to pay the additional €1,000,000 or this amount will be proportionally reduced with respect to the price of this particular unit in the portfolio?
How many investors have already received Cyprus citizenship by investment?
According to the existing terms of the program launched in 2013, wealthy investors can receive Cyprus passport upon investing at least €2,000,000 in housing/real estate, government bonds and local companies.
In 2017, the citizenship of Cyprus was given to 1,013 people (503 to main investors and 510 to their family members). In 2016, the country accepted 904 new citizens (443 investors and 461 family members). In 2015, the government issued 679 passports (337 to investors and 342 to family members). In 2016, the authorities approved 214 applications, having issued the total of 400 passports.
At the beginning of 2018, 92 people have obtained the citizenship of Cyprus.
The number of luxury real estate (≥ €1,500,000) sales contracts submitted to the Department of Land and Surveys from 2010 to 2017
Popularity secret: Cyprus passport program (Cyprus Investment Scheme) advantages
- Visa-free traveling worldwide. The citizens of Cyprus have visa-free access to 158 countries of the world, including the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Singapore and others.
- High standard of living. Cyprus passport holders have the same rights as all the other citizens of the EU countries. You can live and work in any European country, and your children can get education in the best EU facilities. Newly-made citizens also receive access to quality healthcare services and fair legal system.
- Favorable business environment. The income tax rate in Cyprus is the lowest in the EU territory and corresponds to 12.5%. The legislation aims to develop entrepreneurship in Cyprus even more: one can register a company within 14 days and spend minimum resources on it.
- Safe haven for the whole family. The main investor’s spouse, children under 28 and parents can apply for citizenship together with the main investor. Please note that such applicants should be financially dependent on the major candidate.
- No requirements to reside in the country. Foreign investors do not have to live in the territory of Cyprus before or after receiving its passport.
- Process confidentiality. Information about the passport program participants is not disclosed to any thirds parties or the country of first citizenship. It allows one to keep and use both passports/citizenships.
Latest updates: other countries running Citizenship by Investment programs that have also changed the requirements for getting their passports in 2018
The prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis has recently announced changes to the economic citizenship program. The amendments concern investment in real estate option. Now two candidates can get citizenship by jointly investing at least $200,000 each in the same real estate object (the general requirement is to invest over $400,000 in real estate). However, in this case, the object retention period increases from 5 to 7 years.
A similar offer has been active since May 1, 2018, in Antigua and Barbuda. The difference here is that the investment retention term remains 5 years and the offer is valid until October 31, 2018.
Apart from making a change in the investment in real estate option, Antigua and Barbuda also canceled the repeated procedure of due diligence upon the passport renewal by economic citizens (every 5 years). Moreover, the age threshold for the investor’s parents has been reduced from 65 to 58.
Vanuatu, a small country in the Pacific
On April 27, 2018, James Harris, responsible for Vanuatu’s passport program, announced the reduction of prices in its CBI program as well noting that foreign investors could get the country’s citizenship in exchange for Bitcoin Cash. The official stated that national authority had established the mechanism of accepting cryptocurrency for participation in the program.
What to expect in the future?
The number of high-income people all over the world wishing to receive a second citizenship is growing steadily. 41% of high net worth individuals from Latin America, 39% from Middle East, 28% from Africa are considering to obtain a second passport. European programs keep attracting candidates with numerous benefits and the opportunity to immigrate to a highly developed country, while the Caribbean countries focus on the affordable prices.
The introduction of limitations in Cyprus only increases the value of its passport. Obtaining a second citizenship has become the necessity similar to purchasing a car. You can live without it, but your life is much more comfortable with it.
Interested in more detailed information about Cyprus citizenship by investment program? Contact us!
- We offer free consultations, understanding how important it is for the client to make the only correct decision.
- We work only in the field of investment immigration, integrating gained experience into the investor’s goal.
- We work only with official programs of the European Union and Caribbean countries.
- Before signing the contract, we inform our clients about all additional fees and expenses.
- We conduct a screening to assess the investor’s chances of obtaining the desired citizenship.
- We oversee the process at each stage and work exclusively towards the result.
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