Cyprus: Corporate Immigration 2019 - Promotional Guidelines

Last Updated: 8 August 2019
Article by Eftychia Kouzari-Panagi, Marios Christodoulou, Antria Aristodemou, Elena Karitzis and Antonis Karitzis
Most Read Contributor in Cyprus, August 2019

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 What are the main sources of immigration law in your jurisdiction?

The immigration sector in Cyprus is regulated by a series of legislative instruments, the most prominent of which are: the Law on the Aliens and Immigration (Cap.105); the Aliens and Immigration Regulations of 1972; the Aliens and Immigration (Visas) Regulations of 2004 (R.D.A.498/2004); the Law on the Immovable Property Acquisition (Aliens) (Cap.109); the Immovable Property Acquisition (Aliens) Regulations of 1972; the Immovable Property Acquisition by Aliens (Conditions, Limitations, Prerequisites and Criteria for the Granting of Permit) Regulations of 1990; the Law on Aliens and Immigration (Prerequisites for entrance and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of research, studies, training, voluntary work, exchange of pupils or education programme) (L.7(I)/2019); the Law on the Immovable Property Acquisition (Aliens) (Cap.109); and the Law on the Right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of Cyprus (L.7(I)/2007).

1.2 What authorities administer the corporate immigration system in your jurisdiction?

Issues relating to the employment of European and third-country nationals are mainly administrated by the Migration Sector of the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the district Immigration Units, belonging to the Ministry of Interiors, in cooperation with the Labour Department (LD) belonging to the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance.

1.3 Is your jurisdiction part of a multilateral agreement between countries (EU/NAFTA/MERCOSUR) which facilitates the movement of people between countries for employment purposes?

Cyprus is a Member State of the EU since May 1, 2004. On that basis, the principle of the freedom of movement of employees and/or workers was adapted and regulated by virtue of Article 45 of TFEU and the Act N.7(I)/2007, which the Parliament of Cyprus adopted for purposes of harmonisation with EU Directive 2004/38/EC.

2 BUSINESS VISITORS

2.1 Can business visitors enter your jurisdiction under a relevant visa waiver programme?

Generally, it is necessary for a citizen of a third-country to acquire a business visa for entering Cyprus. However, since Cyprus is a Member State of the EU since 2004, it is worth mentioning that whilst Cyprus is still not included in the Schengen area, it is currently in the process of complying with the terms that have already been specified. Cyprus has accepted and adopted the provisions of Decision No 565/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 15, 2014 introducing a simplified regime for the control of persons at the external borders based on the unilateral recognition by Cyprus of certain documents (issued by Contracting States belonging in the Schengen area) as equivalent to their national visas for transit through or intended stays on their territories not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period. Cyprus offers free visa entry to all national citizens of EU Member States, as well as: citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, as well as holders of UN and European Council laissezpasser, and also citizens of 89 countries outside the EU. Holders of multiple-entry Schengen Visa, as well as holders of any residence permits issued by Schengen Member States (26 Countries, plus Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania), may travel to Cyprus without having a visa, upon presentation of a valid passport or identity card.

2.2 What is the maximum period for which business visitors can enter your jurisdiction?

The total duration of stay in Cyprus for business visitors may not exceed 90 days during any 180-day time period.

2.3 What activities are business visitors able to undertake?

Business visitors are able to engage and undertake several kinds of activities, that may qualify as business. In case a business visitor from a non-EU Member State may wish to apply for and obtain a business visa, they have to submit (within reasonable time prior to proposed date of travelling), to a local Cyprus Embassy, an application to that end, accompanied by, depending on the circumstances of each particular case, an invitation letter, an assumption of responsibility commitment, and a bank guarantee.

2.4 Are there any special visitor categories which will enable business visitors to undertake work or provide services for a temporary period?

Under the laws of Cyprus, there are a series of special categories granting their holders the right to undertake work or provide services for a temporary period, which, however, require as a prerequisite the acquisition of a work permit for a particular field of employment.

2.5 Can business visitors receive short-term training?

In the absence of an express provision explicitly addressing the issue of whether business visitors can receive short-term training, it is worth noting that L.7(I)/2019 provides for the admission of thirdcountry nationals as trainees, provided that the applicant complies with the requirements stipulated therein.

3 IMMIGRATION COMPLIANCE AND ILLEGAL WORKING

3.1 Do the national authorities in your jurisdiction operate a system of compliance inspections of employers who regularly employ foreign nationals?

According to s.18Σ, for the purposes of monitoring compliance with regards to the provisions of the Law concerning the illegal employment of third-country nationals residing in the Republic, the Minister of the Interior may authorise any police officer, other competent officer or inspector to enter freely and without warning, into any place of employment (other than households) at any time and carry out any inspections, searches, interrogations, or examinations as he may consider necessary.

3.2 What are the rules on the prevention of illegal working?

Employers are expected to demand any third-country national they intend to employ to provide a valid permit that is in force, allowing them to reside and work in Cyprus and to inform the CRMD of the commencement of employment within seven days. Cap.105 provides for criminal and administrative sanctions in respect of persons falling afoul of the legislative provisions, including employers who illegally employ third-country nationals and aliens illegally working in Cyprus. The Director of the CRMD has the authority to impose on an employer administrative fines and restrict the employers' right to employ third-country nationals for a specific period of time. In addition, the employment of a third-country national illegally residing in Cyprus constitutes an offence, while penalties may vary depending on the nature and severity of the offence.

3.3 What are the penalties for organisations found to be employing foreign nationals without permission to work?

The employment of any alien without the requisite permit, or the employment of any alien in breach of the terms of any work permit or the employment in breach of any other law, constitutes an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to three years and/or a monetary fine. Additionally, the Court has discretion to make an order requiring the convicted employer to make any contributions payable to the various funds as would be the case if the employment had been legal. The Court may furthermore issue an order prohibiting the employment of any alien for such time period as it deems appropriate.

4 CORPORATE IMMIGRATION – GENERAL

4.1 Is there a system for registration of employers who wish to hire foreign nationals?

There is no general system for registration of employers desiring to hire foreign nationals. With the exception of the Companies/ Businesses of Foreign Interests (as the term is defined in the relevant circular of the Ministry of Interiors), each time an employer wishes to employ a foreign national, an application must be submitted to the competent district LD. Nonetheless, an eligible Company/Business of Foreign Interests has the right to employ a certain number of foreign nationals in official or key positions, such as directors, managers, middle management executives and other key personnel. Those companies enjoy the prerogative of sidestepping the cumbersome procedures of the Labour Office as they get registered in the records of the CRMD as eligible companies and they employ foreign nationals falling into the aforesaid categories by submitting individual applications to the CRMD.

4.2 Do employers who hire foreign nationals have ongoing duties to ensure immigration compliance?

Employers who hire foreign nationals of course have an ongoing duty to comply with the immigration law and policies.

4.3 Are employers who hire foreign nationals required to show a commitment to train or up-skill local workers?

Under Cyprus law, there is no such legal or other obligation or commitment from the part of the employers to train or up-skill local workers as a prerequisite to hire foreign nationals or otherwise.

4.4 Are employers who hire foreign nationals required to pay government charges and fees which contribute towards the training or up-skilling of local workers?

Under Cyprus law, no obligation is imposed on the employers who hire foreign nationals to pay government charges and/or fees as a contribution towards the training or up-skill of local workers.

4.5 Do the immigration authorities undertake routine inspections of employers who sponsor foreign nationals, to verify immigration compliance?

Yes, the immigration authorities do undertake routine and regular inspections of employers who employ foreign nationals to verify due conformity with the immigration law. Many cases have been brought before the District Courts for illegal employment of foreign nationals and in many instances, the Courts have imposed imprisonment penalties.

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Originally Published by ICLG

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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