Cyprus is the third largest island of the Mediterranean Sea, and is only a short boat ride away from both Greece and the Middle Eastern nations of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. Although a united geographical entity, Cyprus is unofficially partitioned into two: the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The latter, the product of Turkish occupation in 1974, is only recognised by Turkey.
The population of Cyprus is estimated to be around 1,165,000, with majority ethnic groups being Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot. Recent migration trends have also seen large numbers of foreign communities residing on the island, including many Greek, British, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Filipino individuals.
Cyprus has a strong economy, characterised by little unemployment. Its low tax and inflation rates have made Cyprus a desired destination for offshore companies and the relocation of assets, thus attracting foreign investment. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated a real GDP growth rate of 2.8 percent for 2016, but has forecasted a reduction in growth to 2.2 percent for 2017.
Art, culture, and archaeology play a significant part in shaping Cypriot identity, and draw worldwide visitors. The Kourion Archaeological Area and the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are just two of the many reminders of the splendour of ancient Cyprus. Tourism made a total contribution of 21.3 percent to the country’s GDP in 2014.
Grounded in Section 111 of the Civil Registry Laws of 2002-2013, the Scheme for Naturalisation of Investors in Cyprus by Exception had undergone several alterations. In its original form, it required a €15 million investment – an exorbitant price that discouraged applicant participation. The current Scheme was unveiled in 2014, and last amended in late 2016 by the nation’s Council of Ministers.
Applicants under the Cypriot Scheme may apply either as individuals or through one or more companies, so long as they complete all required investments at most three years prior to applying, and preserve those investments for a further three years following citizenship.
The first option involves the purchase of or participation into a Cypriot company resulting in the creation of five jobs for citizens of Cyprus or of the European Union who legally resided on the island for five years prior to the investment.
The second option entails transferring €2,000,000 in alternative investment funds (AIFs) established and investing in Cyprus. The AIFs must both be licensed and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec).
The third option involves purchasing buildings, land under development, or infrastructure valued at €2,000,000, whether these be residential or commercial. Applicants who select residential real estate under this option however need not spend the additional €500,000 to establish a permanent residence in Cyprus.
Combination investments – so long as they amount to €2,000,000 – are allowed, and applicants who select to diversify their investment may also purchase Government bonds for a maximum value of €500,000.
Applications for citizenship under the Scheme are processed by the Ministry of Interior and are further subject to application and processing fees.
The applicant must be a resident permit holder at the time of application, otherwise an application for residency may be lodged at the same time as the application for naturalisation. The application process takes a minimum of three months and involves no language test or interview requirements.
Benefits for acquiring citizenship in Cyprus includes freedom of movement and residence in any other European Union member state, although it does not occasion membership of the Schengen Area. Citizens may avail themselves of visa-free travel to around 160 countries.