Cyprus: Amendments To The Naturalization By Investment Scheme In Cyprus

Last Updated: 13 March 2019
Article by A.G. Erotocritou LLC

As of the 15th of May 2019, applications for naturalization through investment will need to meet certain criteria (in addition to the ones currently in force), in accordance with the recent decision of the Council of Ministers.

More specifically, a non-Cypriot citizen who satisfies the economic criterion listed below as A.1 and also satisfies one of the economic criteria listed under A.2 to A.5, either personally or through a company/companies in which he or she participates as a shareholder or through investments done by his or her spouse or jointly or even as a high-ranking manager of a company/companies, may apply for the acquisition of Cypriot citizenship through naturalization by exception.

The new criteria adopted, amend both the economic conditions of scheme as well as the terms. For instance, amongst the new criteria adopted, there are two mandatory donations detailed below in A.1, as is the requirement for a Schengen visa.

Of particular importance is the new condition that the investment must be retained for a period of at least five years as from the date of the naturalization.

Below is a list of the main conditions incorporating the recent amendments passed by the Council of Ministers.

ECONOMIC CRITERIA:

A1. DONATIONS

a)    A mandatory donation of € 75,000 to the Foundation for Research and Innovation to promote the creation of an entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. It is noted that in case the applicant wishes to make a donation of more than €75,000, any surplus amount paid will be calculated towards his investment amount under criteria A.2-A.5. The obligation to contribute to the Foundation for Research and Innovation is lifted if the applicant invests at least € 75,000 in a certified innovative business (which has been certified by the Treasury) or a certified social company. In addition, this obligation is waived if the applicant has made an investment under the criterion A.3 'Purchase or Establishment or Participation in Cypriot Companies or Business' amounting to at least 20% of the investment cost of the stated criterion A.3 (ie € 400,000 ) to a company operating in the primary sector of the economy or in the secondary sector of the economy, or in one of the fields of research and development, education, health, and renewable energy sources.

b)    A mandatory donation of € 75,000 to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation, aiming at the contribution of the program to the new integrated housing policy, namely for the implementation of affordable housing projects and the implementation of other housing plans/measures. It is noted that in case the applicant wishes to make a donation of more than €75,000, any additional amount paid, will be calculated towards his investment amount under criteria A.2-A.5.

A2. INVESTMENT IN REAL ESTATE, LAND DEVELOPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

To qualify under this investment, the applicant must have made an investment of at least €2 million for the purchase or construction of buildings or for the construction of other land development projects (residential or commercial developments, developments in the tourism sector) or other infrastructure projects. It is noted that investment in land under development is included in this criterion, provided that an investment plan for the development of the purchased land will be included in the application. It is understood that investment in land that is situated in a building zone of zero development, is excluded.

A3. PURCHASE, ESTABLISHMENT OR PARTICIPATION IN CYPRIOT COMPANY

To qualify under this investment, the applicant must have made a purchase or have participated in companies or organizations established and operating in the Republic of Cyprus with investment costs of at least €2 million. The invested funds must be channelled towards the financing of the investment objectives of these companies exclusively in Cyprus, based on a specific investment plan. Inclusion of investment in shipping in eligible investments, based on specific measurable criteria relating to the contribution to the economy, to be jointly defined by the Ministry of Finance and the Deputy Ministry of Maritime Affairs.

Applications shall be evaluated to verify that the companies or organizations have proven physical presence in Cyprus, with significant activity and turnover and employ at least five (5) Cypriot or citizens of European Union member-states. The minimum number of employees shall increase, if more than one applicant invests simultaneously or almost simultaneously in the same business or company.

A4. INVESTMENT IN AIF OR RAIF, OR FINANCIAL ASSETS OF CYPRIOT COMPANIES OR CYPRIOT ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE LICENSED BY CYSEC

To qualify under this investment, the applicant must have bought units of at least €2 million from alternative investment funds (AIF) established in the Republic of Cyprus or registered alternative investment funds (RAIF) established in the Republic of Cyprus, licensed and supervised by the CySec and whose investments are made exclusively in the Republic of Cyprus, in investments that meet the criteria of this Programme or in areas approved by the Minister of Finance. It is permitted for these AIFs or RAIFs to invest in secondary market stock-market values of the Cyprus Stoxk Exchange an amount that does not exceed the €200.000.

In order to confirm that the investments that meet the criteria of the current programme will be kept for at least five years, the manager or the auditor of the fund shall inform in writing and on an annual basis, the Ministries of Finance and Interior with reference to the value of the initial investment.

The purchase of financial assets of Cypriot companies or organizations of at least €2 million, such as bonds, bills and securities, issued with the approval of the CySec, by companies that have proven physical presence and substantial economic activity in the Republic of Cyprus, and have as a purpose the financing of the investment plans of these companies or organizations exclusively in Cyprus, based on an investment plan, fall under this criterion.

It is noted that the purchase by an AIF or RAIF of units of other AIFs or RAIFs is not considered eligible.

A5. COMBINATION OF THE AFOREMENTIONED INVESTMENTS

The applicant may proceed with a combination of the above investments, provided that the total investment will amount up to at least €2 million.

It is noted that, the applicant must have made the necessary investments during the three years preceding the date of the submission of the application, and must retain the said investments for a period of at least five years as form the date of the Naturalization.

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS:

In addition to the satisfaction of the above economic criteria, the applicant must also:

  • Have a clean criminal record;
  • Have obtained a valid Schengen visa; and
  • Have a permanent residence in Cyprus the purchase price of which must be at least €500.000, plus V.A.T.

SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION:

From the 15.05.2019, the following documents must be submitted in the naturalization by investment application. Please note that this list incorporates both existing and new required documents.

  • Applicant's clean criminal record from the country of origin and the country of residence (if different);
  • Copy of applicant's Schengen visa (except European citizens and for third- country nationals for whom no entry visa is required);
  •  Due Diligence Report issued through an internationally accepted database ensured through a subscription;
  • Applicant's declaration in respect to investment by naturalization scheme;
  • Proof of investment (documents which prove the satisfaction of A.1 and one of the criteria listed between A.2 and A.5 including for instance, for real estate investments, the contract of sale, the proof of Registration of the contract at the Land registry and the proofs of payment of the agreed purchase price.)
  •  Proof of permanent residence in Cyprus of at least €500.000, plus V.A.T;

    • It is noted that under the new criteria, additional documents such as the urban planning permission, bank waiver and certificate of completion certificate signed by the project architect will also need to be submitted. As regards the certificate of completion, it is noted that in the case of properties still being constructed, it is necessary to maintain an amount equal to 5% of the value in a special account or the equivalent bank guarantee from the seller of the property to the buyer (Performance Bank Guarantee).
  • Any other document that might be requested either by the Ministry of Interior, or by the Ministry of Finance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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