Cyprus Has Revised Its Citizenship Program – Can You Still Apply?
The Cyprus Investment Program has been the subject of excitement, positivity and controversy of late. Through the scheme, foreigners can acquire Cypriot citizenship by investing €2.5 million in property or infrastructure. Alternatively, €300,000 secures Cyprus residency. The scheme was a huge success, massively contributing to the financial well-being of the island. It also served as a boost for the real estate sector as most of those interested in acquiring Cypriot citizenship preferred to invest in real estate assets. In 2017, the Cyprus government issued 503 passports to investors and 510 additional passports to members of their respective families, compared to 443 and 461 in 2016 or 214 and 186 in 2014. However, the Cyprus government has recently revised its citizenship program amid growing controversy.
The ‘Citizenship for Sale Program’ came under scrutiny from residents, politicians and business persons with some calling it “corrupt and unethical”. Much of the controversy centred around the fact that only the super rich could obtain citizenship. This meant that talented “non rich” and “non EU” citizens had little opportunity. The scheme also came under fire following numerous accusations of corruption of the Cyprus government harbouring wealthy criminals. A report published by Transparency International and Global Witness entitled European Getaway – Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas was certainly illuminating. The report posed the provocative question: Have Europe’s doors been opened to the criminal and corrupt via some of its members’ so-called ‘golden visas’ schemes?
“We have no power to ban such a practice but we have an obligation to put high requirements on the member states to be careful. They are granting citizenship for the whole of Europe.” European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová stated.
Another pain point for Cyprus residents was the increase in property prices as the golden visa scheme caused a sharp increase in the price of real estate assets in the areas where luxurious buildings where being developed.
In May 2018 the government acted and bolstered the status of the scheme via several measures. Prospective investors must now engage the services of a registered service provider like AME Second Citizenship to submit an application. This controls how and who applies for the scheme. In addition, a Committee for Supervision and Control was put in place for better quality control.
A prerequisite for the program is for applicants to adhere to KYC (know your customer) procedures and to hold an account with a Cypriot bank. This is to prevent money laundering or wrongdoing by applicants.
Most significantly for visa applicants, the government has capped the amount of “golden visas” per year at 700. Applicants, who will foot the bill for the enhanced due diligence process, will have to wait up to six months for their applications to be examined. They will then be selected based on eligibility and extensive background checks.
At AME Second Citizenship, our expert team knows how to adhere to the new rules and swiftly process applications. Citizenship through investment is still very possible, but we do urge applicants not to delay.
Benefits of citizenship include
- Visa-free travel to over 171 countries including Europe and Canada
- Citizenship can be passed to future generations by descent
- No need to renounce the previous nationality as dual citizenship is permitted
- Cypriot Investment Programme can be obtained within 6 months
- Access to very favourable taxation schemes
- A high standard of life in a western country
Submit your application early to allow time to navigate the new rules. Talk to our team now for more information.