INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos has denied press reports claiming that the rules governing the Government’s citizenship scheme for foreign investors have been relaxed, according to a report in Gold News.
The Minister noted that the only change was in the discretion of the Council of Ministers to decide in instances of large collective investments.
“Nothing of substance has changed. The criteria remain the same and just as strict because it is a matter of giving citizenship and we need to be aware that in essence we are talking about European citizenship given that Cyprus is a member of the EU,” Hasikos said in response to a question asked during a conference entitled “Could Cyprus become the second home for Chinese investors?”
According to Gold News, the Government scheme that entitles a foreign investor to acquire Cypriot citizenship requires the following financial criteria to be met:
- Mixed Investments and Donation to Government Fund amounting to a minimum of €2.5 million; or
- Direct Investments amounting to a minimum of €5 million. Investment can drop to €2 million for a special collective real estate purchase scheme of a total value of no less than €10 billion; or
- Deposits in Banks operating in Cyprus amounting to a minimum of €5 million (personal deposits or deposits of privately owned companies); or
- A combination of the above criteria amounting to €5 million
- Business Activities
- the applicant established a company administered in Cyprus and he/she made payments to the authorities (taxes etc.) and purchased business services for at least €500.000 on average per annum for the last 3 years before application.
- In case the company’s central office is in Cyprus and employs 5 Cypriots, then the above is reduced to €350.000 per annum and in case of employing 10 Cypriots, it is further reduced to €200.000 per annum; or
- Impaired Deposits in the Bank of Cyprus and/or in the Popular Bank if the applicant has impaired deposits amounting to a minimum of €3 million. In case of impaired deposits of less than €3 million, the applicant can proceed to make additional investments under one of the above criteria
In addition to the criteria mentioned above, the applicant must fulfil the following conditions:
- Hold a Clear Criminal Record from the country of origin or/and the Cyprus Police
- Confirm that the applicant’s name is not included in the list of persons whose property is ordered to be frozen within the EU
- Privately owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, the cost of which must exceed the amount of €500.000 excluding VAT
- Have at least one visit to Cyprus
The applicant does not become a tax resident in Cyprus, unless he/she spends more than 183 days in any one calendar year
- The approval of Citizenship under the relevant Decision is granted by the Cyprus Council of Ministers
- The application package is submitted to the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Finance assesses the financial criteria
- The application of the spouse is submitted concurrently with the application of the main applicant. Upon the approval of these applications, children’s applications follow
- After examination by the two Ministries, the application is presented to the Council of Ministers
- The application processing usually takes 6 months
- The Council of Ministers has complete discretionary power regarding these decisions
(Several questions have already been raised in the European Parliament about various “EU Citizenship for Sale” schemes adopted by Malta, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Latvia and Greece to sell residency rights in exchange for business investment, real estate or government bonds).