Cyprus has aligned its immigration law and regulations with the EU's acquis communautaire on matters such as entry and stay of third country nationals for self- employment and study purposes and long-term residence. Nationals of non-EU countries who have been residing in Cyprus for at least five years are entitled to Long-Term Residence Permits which have an indefinite limit; their issue is a requirement imposed on all EU member states. Visa obligations for foreign nationals are in line with EU obligations. Cyprus is a signatory to the Schengen agreement and is currently going through the pre-implementation evaluation procedure.
Citizens of EU member states may work in Cyprus . If they are employed, they must obtain residence permits, to which they are entitled as of right. Nationals of other countries wishing to work in Cyprus require employment permits. These are granted for employment by a specific employer and are normally issued for one year, although they can be renewed.
As part of its drive to attract foreign investment the government has put in place a "fast-track" scheme for dealing with applications by foreign companies to employ workers from third countries, offering:
simplified procedures and conditions for granting work and residence permits for third country employees of foreign companies;
reduction of the time taken to examine applications;
indefinite work and residence permits for senior management and other key employees;
streamlined procedures for domestic staff employed by senior management personnel;
reduction of documentation required to support applications to the essentials; and
relaxation of re-entry visa requirements for third country workers who frequently travel outside Cyprus .
In particular, Russian businessmen in senior management positions who reside mainly in Cyprus may apply for permanent residence permits, and a fast-track procedure has been established for applications to be examined by the Immigration Control Committee. The Committee liaises closely with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Cyprus in order to resolve any problems that may arise.
Further to the above we outline below some information regarding two policies of the Cyprus Government in relation to non-EU citizens which have been implemented by the Council of Ministers.
Permanent Residence Permit
In relation to the fast tract procedure to acquire permanent residence permit, a policy introduced by the Minister of Interior which implements a favorable treatment for Third country nationals (i.e. non EU citizens) who apply for Immigration permit, under section 5, category (f) of the Aliens Immigration Regulations of 1972, as amended.
Under this policy, the Immigration permit, which will be equal to Permanent Resident status, will be granted to third country nationals who will acquire, by virtue of sale, a self owned property in Cyprus for self resident purposes in the Republic, for a minimum value of €300.000. Additionally, all applicants under this category, would be required to show a secured income of sufficient amount, which must not come from activities or self employment in Cyprus , but from abroad. Each case is examined of course on its own merits depending on the personal circumstances of the applicant.
To obtain long-term resident status, a third country national must demonstrate the following attributes:
Stable and regular resources sufficient for himself and his dependants to live in Cyprus without recourse to its social assistance system;
Sickness insurance which covers the risks usually covered by Cypriot insurance companies;
He is not a threat to public order or public security; and
His residence in the territory under the Cypriot Government's control has not been the result of deceit or misrepresentation.
The list of documents which are required for the application are the following:
1. The completed Form M67,
2. Birth certificates of the applicant and his/her family members,
3. Copies of the recent and valid passports,
4. A clean criminal record issued by the country of origin,
5. A Sale Agreement for the property acquired, which has to be stamped (by stamped we mean the Stamp Duty payable in accordance with the value of the property acquired),
6. Preferably a bank account statement of the applicant in Cyprus ,
7. 4 passport size photographs,
8. Affidavit of the applicant disclosing his/her income,
9. Bank account(s) of the applicant showing that there are sufficient means to support himself/herself and the rest of the family members (although this is at the discretion of the Immigration Department, the annual income required should be at least EUR 9,568 for a single applicant and at least EUR 1,580 for every dependent person, but the Immigration Control Board may demand additional amounts as necessary.
10. Tax clearance from the country of origin for the applicant.
All the above documents should be originals and officially translated in order for them to be accepted by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus .
Please note that the Immigration Department may request further documents as each case is examined on its own merits.
The application may be deposited even before the applicant arrives to Cyprus provided all the relevant documentation is available and provided to us.
The applications take approximately 8 months to be examined and are approved provided that all the requirements above are met and all the documentation is provided to the authorities.
Fast track Citizenship
The Council of Ministers during its recent meeting of 10/10/11 decided to implement a policy of Economic Citizenship by which they have decided that they will grant fast track citizenship to non Cypriots who will:
have Direct Investments of a minimum value of € 10.000.000 (e.g. immovable property, plants, etc),
have Business Activities of a minimum value of € 10.000.000 (e.g. the applicant must have in Cyprus a company or companies with a total annual turn over of a minimum value of € 10.000.000 for the last 3 years before the actual application),
have Bank Deposits of a minimum amount of € 15.000.000 in the form of a five year fixed deposits (e.g. the applicant must have personal deposit(s) in Cyprus banking institutions or deposits of private companies controlled by the applicant ),
have a combination of Direct Investments, Business activities and Bank Deposits of a minimum value of € 15.000.000,
have established company(ies) in Cyprus, the administration of which is in Cyprus and the last 3 years prior to the application, to have paid and contributed in the Cyprus economy the minimum amount of €500.000 per year in income tax, VAT for services acquired (e.g. VAT on lawyers or accountant's fees, etc)
Additionally the applicant should be over 30 years old and have also a clean criminal record and a self owned permanent residence (with a minimum value of €500.000).
In relation to the normal procedure, please note that the Law clearly states that in order for non Cypriots to acquire the Cypriot citizenship the following criteria should be satisfied:
They have either resided in Cyprus or been in the Cyprus public service, or a mixture of the two, throughout the period of 12 months immediately before the date of application;
During the seven years immediately before the period of 12 months mentioned above they have either resided in Cyprus or been in the Cyprus public service, or a mixture of the two, for periods amounting in total to not less than four years , subject to a provision that those eligible to apply must have resided for a total of seven years in Cyprus, the last 12 months of which must have been continuous;
They are of good character; and
If a certificate is granted, they intend either to reside in Cyprus or to enter into or continue in the service of an international organisation of which Cyprus is a member or the service of a society, company or body of persons established in Cyprus .
For more information please refer to www.neocleous.com