Why is Cyprus Citizenship by Investment so popular with Russians?
So what is it that attracts the Russians to Cyprus citizenship? Many Russians have chosen Cyprus to house their business and investments in, with the highly attractive tax regime of only 12.5% corporation tax, zero taxation for non-dom individuals for up to 17 years and no succession taxes or IHT, as well as Cyprus being a strong economic financial centre and communications hub, this little island has a lot going for it and is strategically placed across Asia, Europe and Africa.
Cyprus and Russian relations have been strong for many years, for cultural, political and religious reasons, with many Russians from the former USSR settling in Cyprus since the collapse of the USSR. With Bilateral agreements signed between the two countries in 2005 and a Double Tax Treaty in 2009, Cyprus proves a very attractive jurisdiction.
Albeit, as early as 2002 Russian oligarchs were interested in the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program, where the inward investment was less competitive with over 10 million euros in investment, showing the robustness of the Cyprus program and the interest from Russian nationals, and how far the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment has come, now more competitive than ever with the inward investment being only 2 million Euro.
So what is it that attracts the Russians to Cyprus citizenship?
Many Russians have chosen Cyprus to house their business and investments in, with the highly attractive tax regime of only 12.5% corporation tax, zero taxation for non-dom individuals for up to 17 years and no succession taxes or IHT, as well as Cyprus being a strong economic financial centre and communications hub, this little island has a lot going for it, and is strategically placed across Asia, Europe and Africa.
Russia and Cyprus also continues to have strong trade relationships with imports and exports across both countries and Russian businesses are flourishing in Finance, including Forex, Tourism, Aircraft Leasing, Investment and Corporate services to name but a few.
Cyprus has ranked the 5th best relocation destination in the world by Global Lifestyle Review (Knight Frank) Ranked by key business, education, cost of living and leisure indicators, Cyprus was the only European country alongside Switzerland to make it into the top five – ahead of London, Madrid and Monaco. Cyprus’ high rankings were based on its favourable tax regime for new residents, particularly HNWIs and Cyprus was classified as the sunniest European location, with at least 320 days of sunshine a year.
Cyprus tourism is constantly breaking records each year, with Russians been high on the list of tourists, however many Russians are going the step further and choosing Cyprus as their relocation destination through the Citizenship by Investment program.
Over the last year there has been growing Russian-phobia of Russian in the EU, however relocation to Cyprus is stronger than ever before for political, cultural and economic reasons and Russia-phobia doesn’t exist in Cyprus.
There are currently over 40,000 Russians living in Cyprus, with a vast majority living in Limassol. Limassol has become the Russian capital of Cyprus, with many Russians schools with over 600 students, including many nurseries and education centres, with increasing numbers in Paphos and Nicosia.
The Russian people also share the same family values as the Cypriots, with the importance on family life, looking after parents, and ensuring the safety and culture of their children. Cyprus continues to rank highly, as one of the safest countries in the world with low crime rates.
Cyprus grew it’s GDP by just under 4%, the highest growth seen in Europe, in 2017, with the same growth forecasted in 2018. It joined the EU in 2004 and Eurozone in 2008 and also has a transparent legal system, based on UK Common Law and is fully compliant in line with EU Directives. The main growth industry sectors include Professional Services, Banking & Financial Services, and Investment Funds, IT, Shipping, Real Estate, R&D, Renewable energy & Hydrocarbons.
The above are many reasons why Russians deem Cyprus as the preferred choice for Cyprus Citizenship by Investment.
According to Knight Frank (a leading independent, global real estate consultancy firm) 2018 Wealth Report, The Attitudes Survey stated Russia/CIS countries lead with a high of 58% who already have second passport/dual nationality, of clients from around the globe, and furthermore 50% of Russia/CIS clients are considering the acquisition of a second citizenship, with 45% considering permanent relocation. The Attitudes Survey was based on responses from over 500 of the world’s leading private bankers and wealth advisers who between them represent around 50,000 wealthy individuals with a combined wealth of more than US$3 trillion. The Attitudes Survey also shows Cyprus as one of the top five countries; that Russian/CIS clients choose to emigrate to.
So for Russians looking for less stringent requirements than in the UK, the Cyprus Citizenship program is the most straightforward and attractive option, acting as a gateway into UK, acquiring an EU passport in only six months and living with all the freedoms of an EU national in the UK and other 27 EU countries of your choice.
Cyprus granted citizenship to 3,322 individuals under the citizenship by investment scheme, 34.3% of whom were formerly of Russian origin, whereas the Tier 1 Investor Visa ONS Statistics Q1 2018 shows that Russia visa applications are reducing.
The Cypriot immigration policy enables non-EU applicants to obtain Cypriot citizenship on an expedited basis and is deemed the most favourable EU Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme for a number of reasons:
- There is no requirement to make a government donation, in contrast to Malta and many other citizenship programmes worldwide.
- The applicant is only required to make a onetime visit to Cyprus to provide biometrics and receive their PR Permit, with the Cyprus passport following within 180 days from application submission, unlike other EU countries, imposing residency requirements of at least five years’ prior to citizenship being granted.
- Applicants can obtain a Cypriot passport within 180 days of filing an application, being by far the fastest route to Citizenship within the EU, with the Permanent Residency permit (which can be submitted consecutively), being issued within only 7 days. Whereas the UK has limited quotas of only a couple of hundred visa applications been granted each year, and most having stringent criteria that require ongoing visa extensions and no guarantees in citizenship been granted.
- The application process is simple and straightforward with no requirements for medical testing, and no language requirements for the entire family including parents.
- With the Cyprus program the applicant can invest in property from the outset and/or a combination of other investments including, commercial real estate and land (providing a development plan is in place), government bonds, Cyprus company or Cyprus investment funds.
- EU nationals are also eligible for UK Settlement by taking 3 simple steps of proving EU identity, UK residence and clean criminal record, once they have resided in the UK as European nationals.
Who is eligible?
Main applicant with a minimum investment of 2 MLN. EURO.
Main applicant and spouse ie husband and wife;
Children up to the age of 17;
Adult children between the ages of 18 to 28, provided they are of either the first degree or first degree; and providing their application before the 29th birthday;
- Parents of the main applicant, provided they make an additional investment of a minimum of €500,000 is made in residential property.
What do you get for your investment?
As an EU citizen you enjoy all your Freedoms to live, work, study and trade anywhere in the European Union, through the free movement of goods, services, capital and people and with the freedom of visa free travel to over 159 countries, including Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Canada to name but a few as well as 28 EU countries including the UK.
How we can help?
Astons is an investor immigration firm, with head offices in London, Mayfair, and a multicultural legal and advisory team that are well place to assist you with all your immigration needs, including Private Client Legal Case Management, filing and submission of your residency or citizenship needs in Cyprus, UK or the Caribbean.