Cypriot Citizenship: What’s Behind the Passport Scandal? Astons Experts Explain

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Mass media has recently published scandalous news regarding possible revocation of Cypriot passports procured within the country’s immigration programme. The Astons experts explain where these rumours come from and why a citizenship of Cyprus granted to a law-abiding investor can never be revoked.

 

What happened? 

 

In November 2019, the global media released information that the Cypriot authorities were planning to withdraw passports from 26 people who had received citizenship within the immigration programme for foreign investors. 

 

The publication caused panic among the current and future applicants for the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) who became uncertain of the passport’s reliability. However, it turned out that the ‘case of Cypriot passports’ did not, in fact, concern 26 investors: this figure included family members of the main applicants. The truth is: the Cypriot authorities were planning to review the decision of granted citizenship for a few applicants only - those who had received their passport with violations of the law.  

 

The real picture 

 

Investigations regarding passports granted with the Cypriot CIP are only possible in case the passports were initially issued with a breach. Cyprus adheres to the rule of law: if there were no violations during the passport procedure, there is no way a Cypriot passport issued legally to a law-abiding investor can be revoked. 

 

The Cypriot legislation provides an exhaustive description of cases when a passport application can be rejected: if the applicant has a criminal record or open criminal proceedings in any country, or if the candidate is involved with terrorist organisations or registered in Interpol lists. 

 

If you are a law-abiding investor who meets the immigration requirements, all your documents are in order and you submit the application correctly, you and your family members will reliably procure the citizenship of Cyprus. If you did everything right and didn’t hide anything from the country’s authorities, it would be impossible to withdraw your passport.

 

The Cyprus law clearly lays out the cases when the citizenship can be revoked:

if you forge the documents, commit a serious felony (in any country) within 10 years of naturalisation, reveal disloyalty to Cyprus by word or action, collaborate with an enemy during war time, or fail to report your physical residency outside of Cyprus to the local authorities within 7 years after procuring the passport. This list is exhaustive and implies no ambiguity - you are 100% protected by the law.

 

Were there any precedents of passport revocation? 

 

The recent media scandal regarding illegal passport issue to nefarious investors is by no means the first one. This time, it had to do with the relatives and associates of the Cambodian Prime Minister. Previously, in 2009 and 2011 the Cypriot authorities withdrew nine passports issued with violations. For instance, Cyprus revoked citizenship of Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Makhlouf was then sanctioned by the EU and the US.   

 

Why were the passports issued with violations?  

 

According to sources close to the Cypriot government, the fuss around specific foreign investors - holders of Cypriot passports was caused by the current political struggle in Cyprus. 

 

As the investigation by an opposition newspaper Haravgi revealed, some of the CIP passports were processed by a lawyer firm pertaining to the family of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. According to the opposition, specific passports were issued based on corrupt mechanisms, and President Anastasiades could have financially benefited from granted citizenships.

 

The President of Cyprus who assumed office in 2013 and was reelected in 2018 refutes the accusations and even threatens to offer his resignation, should his political adversaries prove his implication in corruption schemes. Notably, the largest local developer Imperio Properties called these accusations a ‘politically motivated damage to the President and his family’.

 

The daily Cyprus Mail newspaper reports that the lawyer company Anastasiades owned by the daughters of Nicos Anastasiades since 2013, approved around 40 applications within the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Programme. Sources close to the government of Cyprus maintain that only the passports issued through this company may be at risk. 

 

Law-abiding investors who submitted applications through other reliable and professional immigration companies can rest assured that the rightfully granted citizenship cannot be withdrawn.   

 

How can I prove my integrity? 

 

First of all, as we’ve already mentioned: do not resort to unreliable law firms involved in media scandals. 

 

Secondly, when you pick an immigration company, pay attention to the specialists’ qualifications as well as business reputation. To avoid undesirable outcomes, you must make sure this reputation is impeccable. 

 

For over 30 years, an investment migration leader Astons has helped clients from all over the world successfully obtain a second passport. Our lawyers will guide you through the entire immigration process: from application to citizenship. We’ll recommend the best fitting investment strategies, help you select property in Cyprus, prepare and thoroughly check and double-check the documents and then submit your application. 

 

Astons’ competitive advantage is the 100% guarantee of successful investment citizenship. The Astons experts re-check the documents multiple times and submit them to the Cypriot authorities only in case they are absolutely sure the application will be approved. 

 

In their turn, the Cypriot citizenship candidates must confirm that they are law-abiding citizens and all provided information is up-to-date and true. After the Cypriot government has approved your application, you will need to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Cyprus before a Cypriot court secretary or a consular officer. Thus you guarantee your reliability in person. Once it’s all done, nobody will be able to withdraw your rightfully processed passport, according to the laws of Cyprus.   

 

What are the upsides of the Cypriot passport? 

 

Many foreign investors planning to relocate to London know that the Cypriot citizenship is the fastest, easiest and most comfortable way to move to the UK. 

 

According to sociologists, this immigration route appeals to affluent individuals who prefer to avoid the British bureaucracy, yet achieve a guaranteed result. With a Cypriot passport, you have a right to relocate to the UK right away. The Astons lawyers will help you procure a tourist visa. Once you enter the country, we’ll start the application process for the Cypriot citizenship right in the UK. 

 

Cyprus is a EU member state and its citizens have a right to live, work and study in the UK. You’ll be able to remain in the UK even after Brexit: Home Office has formulated the rules of registration for the EU citizens in the UK up to the year 2022. If you enter the UK before this date, you will need to register online (the Astons lawyers will do it for you). After this, the countdown will start - 5 years before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and 6 years before you can request British citizenship. 

 

It’s most likely that after 2022 the registration of Cypriot citizens in the UK will be as easy as before. Cyprus is a former British colony, it’s a member of the British Commonwealth and has more connections with the UK than any other EU country. 

 

Naturally, Cypriot citizens also have a right to live, work and study in any EU state. This opportunity is of special interest to investors with children. Holders of Cypriot passports can receive excellent European education at special rates. 

 

The Cypriot passport allows visa-free entry to 173 countries, which significantly improves your quality of life. From now on, you won’t need to waste time and effort on procuring visas ahead of personal or business trips.  

 

One more indisputable perk of the Cypriot passport is optimal taxation. Residents of Cyprus who reside outside the country pay income tax from the Cypriot incomes only. The corporate tax for Cypriot citizens is just 12.5%. 

 

The most popular option in Cyprus’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is property purchase (investment held for 5 years). It’s a very lucrative investment: the Cypriot real estate industry is now on the rise. 

 

According to the stats, the year 2018 saw a 21% rise in the number of sale-purchase deals. The most popular city is Limassol that accounts for 37% of all deals. Foreign investors purchase deluxe villas, houses and apartments as well as resorts and boutique hotels with perfect coastal views.

 

The Astons consultants remind you that investment into Cypriot property is not only a means of procuring a Cypriot passport but also a way to reap great ROIs due to rental income on residential or commercial property.

 

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including UKTurkeyVanuatuEU & the Caribbean. Astons is a Member of the Investment Migration Council (IMC).

 

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at info@astons.com or call +44 207 292 2977