You are allowed to obtain Cypriot citizenship either under the naturalization scheme of investors in Cyprus by exception or under the naturalization scheme based on years of residence. Under the latter scheme, an application can be submitted by foreign nationals who have completed seven years of legal residence in the republic prior to the date of application. Under the first scheme, foreign nationals who are going to invest in Cyprus (please see criteria below) and who would like to obtain Cypriot citizenship must hold a residency permit in Cyprus for six months. This provision also applies for the adult members of the investor’s family. If not, an application for a residency permit can be submitted simultaneously with the application for the naturalization, while the procedure for the acquisition of the Cypriot citizenship will be completed when the six-month period is completed. It is therefore an advantage that you are already Cyprus residence permit holders since the citizenship procedure will be processed more quickly. In order to be allowed to submit an application under the citizenship by investment scheme, you will need to fulfil one of the following criteria: first, an investment in real estate, land development and infrastructure projects of at least 2 million euros. 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. The second criterion is investment in financial assets of Cypriot companies or organizations of at least two million euros. These companies or organizations should have proven physical presence in Cyprus, with significant activity and turnover and employ at least five Cypriot or citizens of European Union member-states. The invested funds shall be channelled toward the financing of the investment objectives of these companies exclusively in Cyprus, based on a specific investment plan. The employees of the companies need to have legally and continuously resided in Cyprus during the five years preceding the application submission date. The third criterion is investment in alternative investment funds (AIFs) or financial assets of Cypriot companies/organizations of at least 2 million euros. AIFs, whose investments should be made exclusively in the Republic of Cyprus, should be established in the Republic of Cyprus and licensed and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec). Investments should be kept for at least three years. It is noted that the purchase by an AIF of units of other AIFs is not considered eligible. The purchase of financial assets of Cypriot companies or organizations (bonds, bills and securities) should be issued with the approval of the CySec, by companies that have proven physical presence and substantial economic activity in the Republic of Cyprus. Criterion four is a combination of the above criteria. This combination may also include investment in government bonds of up to 500,000 euros, issued by the Public Debt Management Office of the Ministry of Finance. These bonds must be retained for a three-year period. Investments in government bonds through the secondary market are not considered eligible. In all criteria, you must possess a permanent privately owned residence in Cyprus of at least 500,000 euros (plus VAT). If you have invested in housing unit/units as per criterion one, the purchase of another permanent residence in Cyprus will not be required, if at least one of these housing units is worth at least 500,000 euros (plus VAT). In this case, you must retain possession of this residence for life. If you own a privately owned residence in Cyprus, you are allowed to include it in your investment scheme, provided that you bought it during the three years preceding the date of the application. In case that the value of your privately owned residence in Cyprus exceeds the amount of 500,000 euros, part of the additional amount can be used for supplementing the total amount of the investment made on the basis of the financial criteria above.
What advantages do Cypriot permit residency permit holders have when applying for citizenship?
My husband and I successfully obtained our PRP a little over two years ago. We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience with the PRP program and are now considering seeking Cypriot citizenship. Does the fact that we have a residency permit assist us or provide us with an advantage in becoming naturalized citizens? Or is it easier to apply for citizenship by investment? How should we start the process?
The procedure for obtaining a Cypriot passport through investment will be faster for Cypriot residency permit holders, as they will already have the permit which is a pre-requirement (registration of investor) in order to apply for citizenship by investment. Hence, the procedure will be at least two months faster. Regarding obtaining the Cyprus passport by years of staying, Cyprus residency permit holders have to complete five years of staying in the country in order to be able to apply for a passport. It is advisable before engaging yourself in any purchase of real estate or investment to contact your lawyer to review your documents and guide you through the requirements of the law.
Kindly note that a third-country national who wishes to acquire a Cypriot passport might proceed with either citizenship application by way of naturalization or citizenship application of non–Cypriot entrepreneurs/investors through the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by exception." Regarding a citizenship application by way of naturalization, this way, based on the years of residency, can be submitted by third-country nationals who have completed seven years of legal residence in the republic of Cyprus prior to the date of the submission of the application. In cases of third-country nationals who are either parents or children of Cypriot citizens, the time required is five years rather than seven. It is noted that the permanent resident permits (hereinafter referred to as the “PRP”), granted by the clients in our case, constitute proof of legal residency in Cyprus. Nevertheless, the above conditions regarding the years of residence should be met. The difficult part of this procedure is that the applicant must have resided legally and continuously in Cyprus during the 12 months preceding the date of the filing of the citizenship application by way of naturalization. There is also the citizenship application based on the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by exception.” One of the requirements for the submission of the citizenship application based on the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by exception” is that the applicants must, prior to their naturalization as Cypriot citizens, hold a resident permit in Cyprus. Therefore, the clients do not need to obtain a PRP if they decide to proceed with this kind of application, provided that their existing PRPs are considered as valid.