In a pivotal move toward innovation and solidifying its standing as a tech hub, Cyprus has recently enacted a pioneering amendment to the Civil Registry Law. This amendment, aimed at easing the rules for granting Cypriot citizenship to foreign nationals in the research and innovation sector, not only marks a turning point for Cyprus’ future but also aligns with a broader European trend.
Introduced by Diko MP Nicolas Papadopoulos, this initiative stands out as a departure from traditional citizenship-by-investment schemes. Instead, it reflects a strategic shift, emphasising the attraction of intellectual capital over financial investments. This progressive approach seeks to draw highly trained professionals to the island, encouraging them to contribute to the growth of Cyprus’s burgeoning tech industry.
Papadopoulos captured the essence of this amendment, asserting, “It has nothing to do with investing [in Cyprus] but rather with knowledge.” The emphasis on knowledge-driven professionals resonates with the broader European strategy of investing in research and innovation as a cornerstone for future economic success.
In comparison to other EU countries, such as Spain, France, Germany, and Greece, which have also witnessed an uptick in naturalisation grants, Cyprus’s approach distinguishes itself by prioritising skilled professionals. Under the amended law, foreign nationals in the research and innovation sector can apply for fast-track citizenship, aligned with the nation’s commitment to staying competitive in the global tech landscape.
The positive economic impact of this amendment is significant since research and innovation companies already contribute €3.2 billion to the economy, with 70 per cent of their employees being Cypriots. The latest development aligns with the broader strategy to establish Cyprus as a tech hub, attracting quality foreign investment and skilled professionals who will undoubtedly drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and elevate the nation’s global reputation.
The relaxations introduced also include considerations for residency duration in Cyprus, language proficiency in Greek, financial self-sufficiency, and a clean criminal record. This comprehensive approach ensures that the amended legislation accommodates highly qualified and morally sound individuals, setting a robust standard for inclusion.
The positive implications extend beyond the professionals themselves. Family members meeting specific criteria are also eligible for citizenship, fostering stronger ties between these innovators and the island. With processing times capped at eight months, Cyprus demonstrates efficiency in its commitment to attracting and retaining top-tier talent.
It was positive to note that the amendment was applauded by the members, emphasising the importance of genuine ties to the island. As was noted, many tech experts are already residents, and their children’s excellent knowledge of Greek exemplifies the organic integration of these professionals into Cypriot society.
Valentinos Polykarpou, Chairman of TechIsland and General Manager at Wargaming, welcomed the move, recognising it as a vital measure to enhance Cyprus’s competitiveness in the tech sector. He rightly points out that modernizing the legal framework is crucial for attracting not only investment but also highly skilled professionals. This, in turn, will undoubtedly contribute to economic prosperity and further solidify Cyprus’s standing in the global tech community.
In the light of these positive developments for Cyprus, we eagerly anticipate an unfolding journey into the future where innovation not only thrives but becomes the hallmark of the island’s tech excellence. This trajectory promises to propel economic prosperity and firmly secure Cyprus’s prominent position on the global stage.
Freda Yannitsas is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cyprus Mail