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New rules for permanent residency status, more in the pipeline

Interior Minister Ioannou said the changes were necessary 'to eliminate weaknesses' in existing criteria
Interior Minister Ioannou

The latest Cabinet decision revising criteria for third country nationals who are investing in Cyprus comes in tandem with a slew of other measures the interior ministry wants to take as part of a changing migration policy.

Announced last week, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the changes were necessary “to eliminate weaknesses” in the existing criteria.

Coming into force on May 2, the new rules affect third country nationals who are naturalised as a result of investments they make into the country.

The minimum investment remains unchanged at €300,000 in property or in a company based in Cyprus employing at least five people.

A key change in the new rules is that applicants are required to prove on an annual basis that they have maintained their investment as well as meet the bar of a required income for themselves and their family.

The applicant must evidence an annual income of at least €50,000 per year, up from the current €30,000.

Additionally, the latest measures seek to go tougher on extending permanent residency statuses to the applicant’s closest relatives. Previously, with a €300,000 investment in property, an individual could have obtained a permanent residency for their parents and in-law’s.

“With the latest revision, the permanent residency is not granted to any other adult that has not invested the same amount in Cyprus,” an interior ministry spokesperson told the Cyprus Mail.

The spouse of the investor can receive a permanent residency as can their children if they are under the age of 18. Unmarried children aged between 18-25 can obtain one if they can prove they are in higher education and their parents can present an additional €10,000 for every dependent.

“The current application of the naturalisation by investment scheme has shown that certain provisions needed a re-evaluation while others needed to be regulated. The changes aim to tackle any weaknesses that may be taken advantage of.”

Spouses of the investor can be naturalised if they can evidence an annual income of at least €15,000 per year.

Applications will be approved by the interior minister with the process lasting two months, the ministry explained. A €500 fee comes with every application as well as €70 for every dependant. All applicants must have a clear criminal record.

While naturalisation through investment applications are fast-tracked, the government is facing challenges with permanent residency applications that are backlogged due to parliamentary delays.

In May 2022, new regulations prepared by the interior ministry were submitted to House interior committee for discussion – and to eventually be voted into law. Nonetheless, to date the regulations have still not been discussed.

The regulations concern a number of permits for employees, self-employed persons and people living off savings earned abroad, under regulation 5 of the Aliens and Immigration Regulations. Though applicants do not have to live in Cyprus, they must visit Cyprus once every two years.

Reports suggest the existing regulations date back from 1988 and amid the pending green light from parliament, the interior ministry has preferred to shelve existing applications until the new regulations are voted through.

Though the timeframe for processing applications is around 18 months, currently it spans for 2.5 years.

Under the existing legal framework, applicants must prove they have purchased or rent property in Cyprus – though there are no rules on what the value must be. Nonetheless, annual income must amount to at least €9,568 and a further €4,613 for every dependent.

Those with earnings from abroad must have €15,000 to €20,000 in their Cypriot bank account.

The new rules currently awaiting parliamentary scrutiny include provisions that a self-sustained migrant (one that does not wish to work in Cyprus) must have an annual income of €40,000 per year increased by €10,000 for every dependent. They must also have a suitable home valued at €250,000.

Self-employed persons are required to have the qualifications to carry out work in their field of expertise and adequate capital – an amount set by Cabinet. The work in question must also serve to benefit Cyprus and be in line with its development goals. It should also not create “unjustified competition” in the local labour force.

Those seeking an immigration permit through a job must sign an employment contract approved by a government office, with the employer required to have all their tax and social insurance payments in order. The job seeker must fulfil the condition that they do not create any “unjustified competition” in the field of work they will be employed in.

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