By Anayat Durrani
Some new changes have been made to residence permits in Cyprus. The government’s cabinet approved on May 27 amendments regarding how immigration permits will be granted to foreign nationals.
“The Cyprus Council of Ministers decided to reform the categories under which non-EU citizens can apply to obtain an immigration permit. These reforms are pending for approval by the Cyprus Parliament,” says Eleni Drakou, partner, Michael Kyprianou - Advocates & Legal Consultants, in Limassol, Cyprus. “The reforms essentially amend the criteria under which employees, self-employed, investors and citizens having sufficient means from abroad, can apply for a residence permit.”
The regulations, approved by the Council of Ministers, stipulated that immigration residency permits may be given to foreign nationals who are self-employed in a business or profession or science; employed foreigners that have an employment offer; foreign investors that have made an investment in the country, though the exact amount has not yet been determined; foreigners with sufficient means to live in the country without employment or economic activity there with an annual income of €40,000, including an additional €10,000 for each additional member of the family, and a home residence in the country worth at least €250,000.
Updates to residence permits in Cyprus
Also, to be granted an immigration permit, they must have a valid passport and cannot be a threat to national security or public health. Additional details are expected to be ironed out. The reforms must be approved by parliament before they are enacted into law.
“The new amendments expand the range where a non-EU national can obtain the residence permit in Cyprus. They are providing a more liberal and flexible approach by allowing self-employed professionals, self-sustained individuals and high network individuals to apply for a permanent residence permit,” says Maria Kannava, advocate/insolvency practitioner for Kannava Law in Limassol, Cyprus.
Regarding the Permanent Residence Program via Investment (Regulation 6(2)), the last amendments were completed on April 7, 2021, says Theodosis Ioannou, senior advisor for Henley & Partners.
“Main changes was the abolishment of some requirements—have a fix deposit with the bank, a medical insurance etc.—and the addition of investment options,” says Ioannou.
Ioannou says it is still unclear what the actual changes made for the residence permits will be and how important they are going to be, until the Parliament approves it.
Why investors are attracted to relocating to Cyprus
Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean and is located south of Turkey and to the southeast of Greece. It has a population of about 1.2 million people and its capital and financial hub is Nicosia.
“After a lengthy journey of legislative reforms in various governmental authorities and sectors of the economy, Cyprus has proven itself to become an ultimate destination for living and an advantageous jurisdiction for business people and investors,” says Kannava.
The country’s official languages are Greek and Turkish, but English is widely spoken there as well. Before Cyprus gained independence in 1960, it was a former British Colony for over 80 years. Cyprus has a high standard of living, low crime rates, low taxes and nice weather year round, migration professionals say.
“Besides the immigration and the procedural aspects, the Council of Ministers has decided to introduce further tax incentives to citizens who wish to relocate to Cyprus. In the recent years, we have seen a great interest by professionals including business owners, employees and self-employed persons, to relocate to Cyprus and take advantage of the current tax regime,” says Drakou.
Income tax rates in Cyprus are low compared to other European countries and there is limited capital gains tax, low corporation taxes and no inheritance tax.
“At the same time, they can continue to carry on their business activities, either remotely, or in Cyprus,” says Drakou. “It is expected that the tax reforms will provide additional incentives to foreigners who are seeking for alternative destinations for residential or business purposes.”
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