We would like to take this opportunity to inform you of important amendments introduced to the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program on 16 September 2016 (as published in the official Government Gazette). These changes further solidify Cyprus’ position as having the leading EU CBI program. A summary of the main amendments to the program follows below:
Minimum required investment reduced to €2 million
Current program: Minimum investment was €5 million, if application lodged individually, or €2.5 million through a collective investment scheme application.
New program: The collective scheme is abolished, eliminating a material administrative burden of coordinating a group application. An applicant can individually invest an amount of only €2 million.
Citizenship for the parents of the main investor and his/her spouse
Current program: The main investor and his/her spouse were previously not permitted to include their parents under the same CBI application. A separate application was necessary.
New program: The main investor’s parents, as well as the spouse’s parents, can now apply for Cyprus citizenship provided they own/purchase a permanent residence with a minimum acquisition cost of €500K.
Current program: Cyprus government bonds were the most popular investment option under the current program.
New program: Investment in government bonds is now restricted to €500K, while land is also eligible, provided there is a development plan in place (land in non-development zones will continue to fall outside the scope of eligible real estate). In addition, the option to invest in a fixed bank deposit or apply on the basis of impaired deposits held with Popular Bank are abolished.
Current program: The applicant was not required to hold a residence permit during the citizenship application period.
New program: The applicant must be the holder of a Cyprus residence permit, or apply for such in order to qualify for citizenship. As such, an application for a residence permit can be submitted simultaneously with the filing of a citizenship application (only the CBI investment requirements will need to be met). It should be noted there is still no requirement for the investor to live or physically reside in Cyprus before, during or after the CBI application process.
In addition to the above, it should also be noted that we expect the future elimination of the requirement to hold a private residence with a minimum acquisition cost of €500K for life- we will keep you updated on developments in this regards.
Most importantly, the Cyprus CBI program will retain its industry leading 3-month average processing time, being by far the quickest route to EU citizenship (followed by Malta at 12 months).
On a final note, the new program will now operate in parallel to the existing CBI rules until 31 October 2016, at which point the existing program is terminated. Existing CBI applications which are filed with the Ministry of Interior are not affected.
Feel free to contact any of our CBI and immigration specialists for bespoke advice.