Half of the 5,000 outstanding applications for citizenship and naturalisation have been processed in the last two months, the interior ministry announced on Tuesday.
Many of these cases have been delayed for years and the idea is to get the rest dealt with quickly.
“The ministry decided to come up with a plan and developed a strategy to deal with this,” interior ministry spokesman Michalakis Christodoulides said. “There was some confusion and it was reported that the forms have changed but this is not true”.
He said the backlog is being cleared because of the department’s plan, determination and “a lot of hard work by the employees.”
To acquire Cypriot citizenship third country nationals must be married to a Cypriot national for at least three years, and have completed 2 years of residency in Cyprus prior to the date of the application.
To apply for naturalisation, a foreigner must have resided in Cyprus for at least seven years.
There is another much quicker way for those with money. On September 13 this year the ‘scheme for naturalisation of non-Cypriot investors by exceptions’ was revised. The new criteria allow individuals to acquire citizenship with an investment of €2 million and the purchase of a residence worth at least €500,000. Under this plan, investors and their families are guaranteed a Cypriot passport within six months.
European Parliament members have since spoken out against the scheme, accusing Cyprus of selling passports to the highest bidders.