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Cyprus passport program

Cyprus implements new passport quota

August 2018: What is happening in Cyprus? Why is Cyprus tightening its citizenship by investment procedures?

Answer: Just a few years ago Cyprus launched what has become one of the most popular citizenship by investment programs in Europe. Applicants were able to receive Cyprus citizenship and the EU passport in only 90 days, which made Cyprus the fastest program in Europe.

One of the main benefits of Cyprus citizenship sought by international investors is the ability to live, work, or study not only in Cyprus, but also in any of the other EU member countries.

Under the CBI program applicants are required to make an investment of EUR 2 million into local real estate, or invest EUR 2.5 million into stocks, bonds, or business operations in Cyprus. Most applicants choose the real estate option because the investor may sell EUR 1.5 million worth of property after only three years (a personal residence valued at EUR 500k must always be kept).

The challenge for Cyprus was that the program had indeed become so popular with international investors that this has led to criticism from other EU member countries which accuse Cyprus of behaving irresponsibly with what these other countries have considered a passport-for-sale scheme.

In response to these accusations and to reduce the volume of applications Cyprus has now implemented several changes to the program:

First, the Cyprus government has prolonged application processing from 90 days to 180 days due to enhanced due diligence procedures. Stretching out the approval process to 6 months is expected to deter applicants who are seeking a quick fix to acute problems in the applicant’s home country rather than taking a genuine interest in the island.

Second, the government of Cyprus has issued new stringent guidelines that regulate the marketing of the CBI program, including which promotional material may and may not be used when describing the program’s benefits. While this measure is not directed at individual applicants, it should have the effect of reducing the number of applications secured through unethical means.

Lastly, the most restrictive of change might be the new annual cap on the number of passports issued per year. Where previously there was no limit, the number of passports available under the CBI program is now limited to 700. While this cap was not reached in 2017 (500 passports issued) it will place a hard ceiling on a program that has increased in popularity every year since 2014.

What’s the outlook for the future?

There are at least two factors that determine if further restrictions will be implemented. First, it remains to be seen if the new immigration conditions will be sufficient to reassure the EU community that Cyprus is taking its responsibility seriously to uphold the high standards expected of EU member states. Second, should the investments brought into the country reach a level deemed satisfactory for the Cyprus government it might decide to further curtail access to the country.

Because immigration by investment programs can change over time please contact us to speak with an advisor or to receive a preliminary quotation. The information provided in this blog post is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice.

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