By Moustafa Daly
Cyprus, the EU island nation, has announced a number of new regulations pertaining to foreigners seeking permanent residency in the country through investment.
The announcement was made on Friday, April 21, 2023, after the Interior Ministry’s request to revise immigration regulations for residency investors was accepted by the Council of Ministers, set to come into effect on May 2, 2023.
What are the changes to Cyprus’ residency-by-investment program?
While the investment threshold remains unchanged at €300,000, the minimum income requirement has been hiked from €30,000 per year to €50,000 – for the main applicant. For spouses, an additional €15,000 of income needs to be proved, and an extra €10,000 for each minor.
“The €50.000 secured annual income is set as a safeguard because there was the previous defined annual income was considered not satisfactory and making the program a high risk in international efforts to fight tax evasion,” explains Michalis Anastasiou, partner at Evagoras Anastasiou & Associates.
Moreover, investors who acquired the Cypriot permanent residency by investment will now be required to produce evidence, on an annual basis, showcasing that they continue to maintain their investments and that their income remains above the threshold – failure to provide such evidence will result in the termination of the residency for the applicant and their dependents.
Parents, parents-in-law, and adult children will no longer qualify as dependents for permanent residency applications, as per the new regulations.
The changes are meant to ‘to revise the existing policy of the Ministry of the Interior, which aimed to stimulate the real estate market, but also more broadly the economy, was taken because it had become clear that certain provisions needed re-evaluation,” said the country’s interior minister Constantinos Ioannou following the cabinet’s announcement.
Among the changes announced by the government on April 27, 2023, is that while the investment threshold would remain the same at €300,000, it now must be paid in full before initiating a visa application, regardless of the real estate project’s delivery status.
Also, the funds must be directly deposited from the main applicant’s account or their spouse's if they’re included as dependents.
Stricter criteria are seen in a good light by local industry professionals.
“I believe that every country is entitled to alter/change its rules regarding internal/immigration policy especially when this country is not part of Schengen and the changes of the stricter criteria are always welcomed to make a program more popular with less scrutiny,” states Celia Pourgoura, director at Pourgoura & Aspri LLC.
More restrictions are becoming more widespread in the EU
As golden visa programs expand elsewhere, the EU is seeing increasing restrictions placed on many of its programs. Recently, Portugal and Ireland moved to end their programs altogether, and Greece doubled the investment threshold in certain areas to protect the real estate market from inflated prices.
Also, EU legislators are pressuring member countries to apply stricter due diligence on their residency programs, and are calling for an end of citizenship programs altogether – evident in the EU parliament taking Malta to EU court to force an end to its program.
Cyprus also had a popular citizenship by investment program that concluded in 2020 after global media reports alleged it was rife with corruption. Cyprus has since revoked multiple citizenships granted under the program.
This story was updated on April 27, 2023.
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