AROUND 900 applications for residency and citizenship by were filed by third-country nationals in the last two years.
The rise in permits is in response to amendments in legislation, implemented on August 2012 and May 2013, making it easier for wealthy non-EU residents to get Cypriot citizenship
Under the new legislation, non-EU residents have the opportunity to acquire a permanent residency permit with the purchase of a private home or apartments of at least €300,000 and deposits of minimum €30,000 in a local bank for three years.
Last May the cabinet decided to add extra incentive, deciding that that residency would be extended to the applicants children, provided they were financially dependent on their parents or were students under the age of 25.
Applicants – who need a clean criminal record – need to prove they have an annual income of €30,000 a year from operations abroad (each dependent person raises the amount by €5,000 a year). They also need to show they have paid up at least €200,000 for a property worth a minimum €300,000 before VAT.
The numbers were announced during a cabinet meeting under President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday.
It is estimated that a sum of almost €300 million was injected to the local economy already. Around €270 million was paid for immovable property and another €27 million was deposited in banks for the next three years.
Interior ministry officials characterised the steps taken towards ensuring a revitalising of the economy as beneficial, especially for the construction industry, which has suffered a severe blow due to the financial crisis.
Cyprus Mail reported in August that the vast majority of applicants are Chinese and Russian.
In 2012, some 29 Chinese nationals applied for permanent residency in Cyprus compared with 445 applications so far this year, according to data from the migration department.
Applications from Chinese also made up the bulk of some 744 applications in total filed this year by non-EU nationals.
Russians, thousands of whom already live on the island, made up the bulk of the rest of this year’s applications although applications dropped from 267 last year to 173 this year.
Over half of the 423 applications filed last year, came from Russians (267). Cyprus’ 2011 population census placed the Russian population on the island at 9,000. Some of them were among the depositors of what was the island’s second largest bank, Laiki, and saw their savings of over €100,000 disappear overnight when Cyprus was forced to shut down the bank.