By Peter Stevenson
FOREIGN investors will now be able to obtain Cypriot citizenship if they bring in €5 million, have large bank accounts or perform certain business transaction on the island.
The cabinet approved the plan on May 24 enabling foreign nationals to gain citizenship if they meet certain criteria set out by the interior ministry, which has already received two applications.
“The new plan is a very positive move and although we are still at a very early stage we believe plenty of interest will be shown in the coming weeks and months,” a ministry spokesman told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
The first option given to foreign nationals would require them to deposit €2 million in the state treasury to purchase shares or bonds with the state-run investment company and also donate €0.5 million towards the government’s Research and Technology fund.
The second option would require them to invest at least €5 million in projects ranging from the purchase of houses, offices, shops and hotels as long as the land they purchase is put to use. They can also purchase companies that were founded and are active on the island or buy shares in companies that are registered in Cyprus.
They would also be eligible for citizenship if they purchase financial assets such as state bonds that were registered and issued in Cyprus including those issued by the Solidarity Fund.
Foreign nationals would also be eligible if they have cooperated with a company which has done work for the public sector. To qualify for citizenship via the second option, applicants will have to present documents which prove they have been active for the last three years on the island.
The third option would require the candidate to have deposits or own a company of which he is the main beneficiary of up to €5 million in a local bank for at least the last three years.
The fourth option would involve making investments or donations, again of at least €5 million towards state coffers.
The fifth option would look at the business activities of any applicant who would have to meet certain criteria over the last three years, and the contributions and investments they have made. They would either need to a shareholder or main beneficiary of a company for the three years leading up to their application for citizenship and would have had to pay fees of up to €500,000 a year for the purchase of business services.
Alternatively if a foreign national has been employing at least five Cypriots then they would only need to have paid up to €350,000 a year on business services and if they have been employing ten, then that amount would come down to €200,000 a year.
If any candidate had their deposits in Bank of Cyprus or Laiki Bank cut by at least €3 million since March 15 then they would also be eligible for naturalisation. If the money which was cut amounts to less than €3 million then candidates could possibly combine it with any of the other options.