Cyprus Introduces Cap Quota and other positive revisions in the newly named ‘Cyprus Investment Scheme’

On Monday 21st May, 2018, the Council of Ministers announced a number of significant positive safeguards to the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program, which are further in line with the EU’s scrutiny and the push for transparency on investment schemes.

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The newly named “Cyprus Investment Scheme”, is pending an official announcement in the Government Gazette, with the following revision enforcements, due imminently. These proposed revisions have been well received, with view to further strengthening the program.

  1.  A cap of 700 naturalisations per year, to be introduced, as of the start of 2018, as a maximum number of applications to be accepted yearly; which refers to main applicant (investors) applications, (not including family members).

  2. Application approval will be within 6 months. The Ministry of Interior, in September 2016, indicated that the timeframe for the completion of the process would be approximately be 3-4 months.  In practise however, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Finance and the Council of Minister have been overwhelmed with applications and a decision has rarely been taken within said 3 months. Given that the revisions of September 2016, enforced the residency requirement of 6 months prior to the passport being issued (although applicants are not physically required to reside in Cyprus during or after this period), this newly announced measure will not further delay the granting of the citizenship, which will still be issued within 6 months from application submission. 

  3.  Every application will be subject to an enhanced due diligence conducted by specialized professionals, (this still requires further clarification as to whether an independent lawyer will conduct the due diligence, or whether an additional third party will be required).  The cost for this due diligence will be borne by the applicant directly and the exact costs are awaiting clarification, however it is anticipated that they will be between, €2,000 - €4,000.

  4.  The period of maintaining the investment after the obtaining of the Cyprus Citizenship shall remain 3 (three) years. However, in the specific cases of purchasers of real estate properties which are under construction, and having no Town Planning Permit, the 3-year period will begin from the date of issuance of the planning permit instead of from the signing of the Certificate of Naturalization, which is currently the case. It is understood that this measure will only affect applicants purchasing land with the intention to build (taking of course into account that certain vendors have already obtained these permits for the plots).  

  5.  A Code of Conduct will be adopted with clear provisions to avoid exaggerations and abusive practices and ensure the correct use of the Scheme; This measure was already mentioned on the 9 January 2018, when the decision of the Council of Minister was published in the Government Gazette, indicating the intention to adopt a series of measures for the added protection of the investor. One of these anticipated measure includes a statement signed by both the investor and the representative or vendor, confirming that the Scheme and its procedure has been communicated to the investor in full transparency. Further elaboration of this code of conduct is still pending. 

 
As we can see from the above proposed revisions, awaiting enforcement, the Cypriot government are very serious in their intentions to preserve the reputation of the Cyprus Investment Scheme as a bone fide scheme; that is now deemed one of the strongest programs in the world, continuing to offer EU Citizenship in only 6 months in return for inward investment.

With the surge of popularity of global mobility due to political and economic instability over recent years, and the rise in numbers of the global elite, it is evident that economic citizenship has a firm place in the market for years to come, and that economic citizenship programs worldwide, must strive to protect the investor in line with EU’s aims for transparency and anti-abuse practises.

For further information on the Cyprus Investment Scheme or to submit your application, please contact Konstantin Kaminskiy at kk@astons.com where we will be happy to assist you further.

 

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Astons is a global immigration advisory firm, specialising in UK immigration law, investor programmes for residence and citizenship, corporate immigration and property search and acquisition.