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Cypriot Citizenship Becomes More Difficult to Obtain

After Cyprus had abolished its Golden Passport Program at the end of last year, no other citizenship by investment scheme was offered as an alternative. Though it is still possible to obtain Cypriot citizenship through naturalisation, acquiring the coveted passport is becoming more complicated in general. At the beginning of February, Interior Minister of Cyprus introduced a new bill, according to which qualifying applicants would have to speak Greek at the intermediate level and know the basic history and culture of Cyprus, in addition to the previously existing requirements.

The Golden Passport Program of Cyprus, which had been running for over six years and gained overwhelming success, was terminated in November 2020. Despite its popularity, the scheme will not be replaced, according to President Nicos Anastasiades. This made it much more difficult for prospective foreign investors to obtain Cypriot passport and use multiple advantages that went with it: the opportunity to travel visa-free to more than 180 countries, freedom to live and work in any spot of the EU, attractive tax regime, access to free healthcare and education, etc.

One of the remaining ways to acquire Cypriot citizenship is by naturalisation. To be eligible, applicants must meet a range of requirements, the number of which is expected to grow. On 6 February 2021, Interior Minister of Cyprus Nicos Nouris submitted a bill to Parliament proposing reconsideration of the criteria for foreigners willing to apply for Cypriot citizenship by naturalisation. As provided by the bill, in addition to the already existing requirements, there will be new ones, namely the command of the Greek language at the intermediate (B1) level as well as basic knowledge of the history and culture of Cyprus. Moreover, qualifying applicants must have decent housing and financial resources sufficient to support themselves and their dependants, without the need to resort to social welfare funds.

Aside from that, applicants will be required to have continuously resided in Cyprus for 12 months prior to their application, with a preceding residence period of 10 years, and have spent no less than 7 years on the island in total. Criminal record and trying to enter Cyprus illegally will prevent applicants from obtaining the sought citizenship. However, the bill allows for exceptions. The new criteria will not apply to people who can provide high-level services to Cyprus such as scientists, artists, and athletes.

If the Cypriot government approves the bill, the entire procedure of obtaining the island’s citizenship will be more complicated and drawn-out. It will take applicants a decade to become Cypriot citizens, while the Golden Passport Program enabled citizenship acquisition in around 6 months. Though the latter will not be resumed, citizenship by investment schemes of other countries offer comparable benefits and are worth paying attention to. For example, economic citizenship programs of the Caribbean states (St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda) and Vanuatu set low investment minimums (from $100,000), ensure easy and rapid application processing, and allow investors to travel visa-free to more than 130 countries around the globe. Turkey’s investment immigration scheme provides a fast-track route to citizenship in one of the main world economies, with superb healthcare and education systems, favourable business environment, and advantageous tax rates. Malta grants its citizens high-class living standards, global mobility, and the opportunity to gain the EU passport in around one year. Montenegro also offers European citizenship, and is planned to join the EU in 2025. This is when all citizens of Montenegro will also become EU citizens.

It must be mentioned that some of the programs above have limited duration: the Montenegrin citizenship by investment scheme, in particular, is likely to be valid only until the end of 2021. Furthermore, the example of Cyprus has proved that even a successful investment immigration program can be revoked at very short notice. This underlines the importance of timely application for second citizenship while the corresponding program is still in operation. As there is a current trend of the world countries to steadily move towards closing their borders, NOW is the time to get your citizenship by investment, while it is still possible.

Some of the main advantages of citizenship by investment:

  • Visa free travel to most of the world countries;
  • Plan B for the times of uncertainty;
  • Investments only from $100,000 onwards
  • Global business opportunities;
  • Access to the best medical facilities around the world;
  • Tax planning opportunities;
  • Possibility to plan your dream retirement;
  • Education in the best schools and universities.

If you would like to take advantage of the available citizenship by investment opportunities, contact GLS Private Office. We will provide you with full and up-to-date information on the ongoing programs, help you choose the most suitable one, and provide all possible assistance on your way to obtaining your second passport.

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