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Cyprus tech sector set to benefit from updated citizenship framework

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In a move set to propel the technology sector’s momentum further, Cyprus expects significant growth from the proposed modernisation of the legislative framework governing citizenships.

According to InBusiness News, the push for this legislative update stems from a proposal put forward by Diko president Nikolas Papadopoulos. The new legislation aims to overhaul citizenship regulations, particularly for highly specialised professionals.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, InBusiness News noted that the existing citizenship legislation was enacted several decades ago, and is thus in need of an update, in order to align it with global market demands. These sources emphasised the necessity of revising these laws, drawing insights from other European countries.

The expected benefits from this overhaul are manifold. Cyprus’ effort to establish itself as a technological hub would be further bolstered, something which has been a strategic goal pursued by both past and present administrations.

These sources underscored that achieving this objective necessitates a supportive legal framework. They outlined the numerous advantages anticipated from this evolution.

According to the explanations provided, the modernisation of the legislative framework will lay the foundation for attracting foreign investments, talent, and technological expertise.

This, in turn, is expected to foster innovation and cultivate domestic talent within the technology sector.

Moreover, this progression is poised to fuel economic growth, generate employment opportunities, and bolster the country’s global reputation.

In terms of the technology sector, Cyprus has managed to gain some momentum in this regard and is seeking a way to further grow this particular segment of the economy.

Specifically, the technology sector currently contributes to approximately 13 per cent of Cyprus’ GDP. It is commonly acknowledged that with proper support, it could become the backbone of the country’s economy, as it is expected to create future jobs in the domestic labour market.

It has been noted that the recent influx of foreign companies in the technology sector has resulted in Cypriot graduates or Cypriots who have lived abroad for several years returning to the island for work.

However, as the sector is still relatively new, the reality also indicates a lack of local expertise.

Therefore, several stakeholders have expressed the need to attract and retain highly skilled technology professionals from abroad to support the development of the technology sector.

According to Eurostat, Cyprus has the lowest percentage of STEM graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) in the EU, with the figure standing at just 13.8 per cent.

Moreover, the number of Cypriot STEM graduates significantly lags behind the increased demand of the job market for this talent.

As a result, it becomes apparent that foreign technology professionals can transfer their expertise to the local workforce.

Additionally, the technology industry can offer opportunities for training, helping to improve the local workforce to meet the demand for STEM talent.

Moreover, considering global trends where technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping the job market and certain job positions will be replaced by others focusing on technology, it is crucial for Cyprus – as emphasised – to leverage its potential transformation into a technological hub, stay ahead of the game, and ensure the growth of the job market.

This is already being done by other countries, as seen in Finland and Germany.

Specifically, Finland has recently amended its citizenship legislation based on a number of conditions.

The Finnish citizenship law requires a continuous residency period of 5 years in Finland with absences not exceeding 30 months in total and a proficiency level of B1 in the Finnish language, or 4 years of residency with a maximum of 24 months in total and a proficiency level of B1 in the Finnish language.

Germany has also recently modified its citizenship legislation based on similar rules.

Nationals legally residing and working in Germany can apply for German citizenship in just five years.

If applicants possess a C1 level proficiency in the German language, they can obtain citizenship in only three years.

Regarding Cyprus and the proposed legislation to be discussed tomorrow in the plenary session of the House of Representatives, under the title ‘Population Registry (Amendment) Law of 2023′, aiming to amend the Population Registry Laws from 2002 to 2021, it stipulates – among other things – specific qualifications for citizenship.

Among them is the adequate knowledge of the Greek language at level B1, as defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages by the Council of Europe, based on certifications of language proficiency of this level issued upon the foreigner’s successful completion of a written examination.

This examination is conducted at regular intervals according to the Minister’s Decree.

Additionally, a required qualification is adequate knowledge of the basic aspects of the Republic of Cyprus’ contemporary political and social reality, the process, and the assessment method of which are determined by a three-member assessment committee.

The committee consists of representatives from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, and Youth, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order.

Finally, a fundamental prerequisite is for the applicant to be highly skilled (with proven academic and professional qualifications) and to earn a minimum monthly salary of at least €2,500.

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