The Cypriot Citizenship: No Worries for Investors, Just Makes Sense to Apply Quickly

1

The media have been recently plagued with publications stating that the Cypriot citizenship granted to foreign investors may be revoked. The Astons experts explain who benefits from these rumours and why nobody can strip your Cypriot passport. Also, we’ll tell you when is the best time to apply for the Cypriot citizenship

I heard that the Cypriot authorities are going to revoke passports previously granted to foreign investors. Is this true?!

The short answer is no. Whether you’ve already become a Cypriot citizen or you are just planning to procure the passport of Cyprus - you have absolutely nothing to worry about.  

Now in more detail. Some time ago, the media published information that the Cyprus authorities had launched the process of withdrawing citizenship from 26 Citizenship by Investment (CIP) migrants. These publications caused a turmoil among current and future members of the Cypriot programme. 

In fact, there is nothing scary. The press just tends to exaggerate and leave out important details. The figure ‘26’ includes not only main applicants but all their family members. So the Cypriot authorities placed under investigation just a few people who, according to Cyprus’s Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides, received their passports in violation of the laws. 

Wait, are the Cypriot authorities going to review documents for previously issued passports? What are the violations in question? 

Now we’re getting to the most interesting part. A major news agency Reuters reported that the Cypriot citizenship had been secretly granted to Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, national leader for over 30 years, as well as his relatives and friends. For instance, the Prime Minister’s niece and her husband - head of Cambodia’s police - as well as the country’s Minister of Finance, Hun Sen’s long-term advisor.    

The global community took great interest in this fact, since the Cambodian leader has continuously and publicly condemned a second citizenship as treason. There is a more crucial reason as well: Hun Sen bears responsibility for the Cambodian genocide (he had fought for the Khmer Rouge before he defected to the exiled government). 

Apparently, under these circumstances the Cypriot authorities were forced to react and announce that improperly procured passports would have to be reviewed. Should there be no violations, there is no threat whatsoever that a law-abiding investor’s passport may ever be revoked. 

Are you sure? I’ve been thinking of a Cypriot passport and now I’m worried. 

Absolutely sure. In case you are not a friend or family member of a national dictator monitored by Interpol, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. 

Joking aside, Cyprus builds on the unshakable rule of law. In order to initiate a checkup against a foreign investor who procured the Cypriot passport, the authorities would need legal grounds, namely the fact of violations committed during the citizenship application process. 

An anonymous near-government source in Cyprus shared an important detail that the relatives and associates of the Cambodian Prime Minister were part of an Interpol investigation when they filed their applications. It’s a direct violation of the Cypriot programme. Under these circumstances, neither of the applicants should have been granted the Cypriot citizenship.

According to the laws of Cyprus, a citizenship application will be rejected should an applicant have a criminal record or an open prosecution process in any country, or have connections with terrorist organisations, or be in Interpol’s lists.  

It may so happen that the Cypriot authorities will revoke citizenship from a few more people. However, in all cases only the nefarious, law-breaching investors are involved (such as Malaysian billionaire Jho Low mixed up in high-scale corruption scandals). These applicants did not match the immigration requirements on the shore and must not have applied for the Cypriot passport. 

Moreover, it’s not the first case in the Cypriot CIP. In the previous years, a few passports were revoked from nefarious candidates. Once in 2009 and eight times in 2011. For instance, the authorities withdrew the Cypriot passport from the Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, cousin of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As a person affiliated with al-Assad, Makhlouf was under the EU and US sanctions and must not have entered the programme.

So the issue is not that the passports are being stripped but that they shouldn’t have been granted in the first place. Right?    

Absolutely. If you fit the immigration requirements, your paperwork is in order and you submit it correctly, then your citizenship application will be approved. You and your family members will receive passports in accordance with the Cypriot laws that protect you. 

By the way, the conditions for citizenship revocation are clearly stated in the Cypriot legislation. This list of conditions precludes any ambiguity. 

What’s in that list? 

According to the laws of Cyprus, your citizenship may be withdrawn if you commit  forgery in your application or a grave violation of the law in any country within 10 years of naturalisation, or will reveal disloyalty to Cyprus by words or action, or will collaborate with an enemy during a war, or if you fail to inform the Cypriot authorities that you reside outside of Cyprus within 7 years after procuring the citizenship.  

If you are a law-abiding Cypriot citizen who doesn’t intend to perform any action from the list above, your passport (and your family members’ citizenships) are fully safe. 

Now you’ve set my mind at ease. However, all this sounds like a thriller. How could it be that the passports were granted despite violations?  

The same source reported that the decision to grant Cypriot citizenship to the Cambodian Prime Minister had been made on the highest level. In any case, this specific mishap shouldn’t have caused panic in the media.

Moreover, the panic among investors could benefit other countries offering immigration programmes. For instance, many analysts link the criticism of EU policies in the media with the influence of the US that runs its own immigration programmes. 

Interesting. So this ‘panic’ may now cause a decrease in the number of applicants for the Cypriot CIP?  

On the contrary. Experts maintain that any media or political stunts affecting EU CIPs lead to tightening of the immigration rules. 

For example, the EU criticised Cyprus for being too loyal towards investors. The authorities thus had to impose stricter rules for foreign investors, such as the increased sum and term of investment, among other changes. Under this scenario, the investors who applied for the passport promptly, before May 2019 when the rules came into force, reaped the benefits. They managed to procure citizenship on better terms than their more hesitant followers. 

So do you recommend to apply as soon as possible? 

If you plan to arrange a Cypriot citizenship for yourself and your family, then yes. The longer you delay the application, the higher the risk that Cypriot immigration rules may further toughen up. 

Paradoxically, the time when the mass media post scandalous news of this or that programme may be exactly the right moment to join it. Last year, for example, the media reported that the UK was putting investor visas on hold. Those affluent individuals who didn’t give in to panic found themselves on the winning side. Despite scary news, the British investor programmes had never ceased functioning so the most decisive applicants had managed to submit their documents before the rules were reviewed and tightened up. 

OK, so how can I apply for the Cypriot citizenship properly? I’m a law-abiding person, yet I realise each candidate will now be checked more thoroughly. 

No worries. With 30 years of experience, Astons will guide you through the entire immigration process. We’ll consult you on any questions, prepare and double-check the documents and submit your application. Our lawyers and consultants provide comprehensive services required for procuring a second citizenship. 

Astons is recognised on the investment immigration market as a company whose customers obtain their citizenship by investment in 100% of the cases. This is due to the two-factor documents checkup performed by the Astons experts. We only submit your paperwork when we are absolutely sure your application will be approved and you will receive the passport.  

Great! Is it true that the Cypriot passport unlocks an opportunity to relocate to the UK?

Yes. Moreover, the Cypriot citizenship is the fastest, easiest and niftiest way to relocate to the UK (since the British immigration rules are fairly complex). Citizens of an EU member state Cyprus have a right to live, work and study in the UK. 

The Cypriot passport will enable you not only to settle in the UK, but also apply for the British ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in 5 years, and for citizenship - in 6 years. 

You may also come to the UK right away. The Astons experts will help you obtain a tourist visa. Once you enter the country, we’ll initiate the Cypriot citizenship application process right on the spot. 

Good, but what about Brexit? Won’t it prevent me from entering the UK with a Cypriot passport?

Sure it won’t. The UK Home Office has recently published the rules of registration for EU citizens in the UK up to 2022. If you enter the UK before this deadline, you will just need to register online (the Astons lawyers will do it for you). Once you register, the countdown will start before you can apply for ILR in 5 years and citizenship in 6 years. 

Most likely, the UK will retain the same registration rules for Cyprus citizens even after 2022. Cyprus is a former British colony and member of the Commonwealth so it has most links with the UK than any other EU country. 

Sounds perfect. What are the other upsides of the Cypriot citizenship?

It has many benefits. The Cypriot Citizenship allows you to enter 173 countries without a visa so you won’t have to waste time and effort on visas for leisure and business trips. 

As a citizen of Cyprus, you’ll be able to live, work and study in any EU country. If you have children of school or college age, you’ll be happy to get the special perks offered by the EU member state Cyprus.

Another advantage is the country’s favourable taxation system. The Cypriot citizens who don’t reside in Cyprus only pay income tax on Cypriot incomes. The corporate tax for Cypriot citizens is just 12.5%.

Moreover, Cyprus unlocks bright business prospects and offers a favourable climate, safety, good ecology and high living standards.  

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Moscow, Dubai, Cyprus and China and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions in the UK,  EU & the Caribbean. Astons is a committed and regulated Member of the Investment Migration Council (IMC), for EU & Caribbean investment immigration.  

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.