Harsh criticism, both domestic and international, of its controversial citizenship by investment program notwithstanding, the Cypriot government’s efforts to strengthen the program and restore its credibility seem to be working, at least as per the latest Passport Index ratings.
The holder of a Cypriot passport enjoys visa-free visit privileges to 122 countries with the option of getting a visa on arrival in another 44 countries.
That 166 countries have no issues admitting the holder of a Cypriot passport into their territory with no advance procedures or formalities clearly indicates the country’s credibility and status remains safe despite criticism of its investment immigration program.
A Busy Year Strengthening the Cyprus Investment Program
The last year has been eventful for the Cyprus CIP.
First the European Parliament Committee publicly called upon both Cyprus and Malta to terminate their passport-for-cash programs. Then there were reports of obviously-disqualified individuals being issued the Cypriot passport through the program.
This was followed by another controversy where relatives of Cambodia’s Prime Minister were granted fast-track citizenship. Despite no clear violation of eligibility norms, the case raised concerns about the potential misuse of the program by authoritarian regimes.
Another embarrassing issue resulted from allegations that linked the law firm of the country’s president with ethical and conflict-of-interest issues.
Despite these controversies, the government seems to have has succeeded in underlining its commitment to a structured and safe investment immigration program.
In February 2019, the Cypriot government announced a series of measures to strengthen the program.
These included stronger security checks, a new fee imposed on investors to finance the due diligence process, a bar on politically exposed persons applying under the program, and an absolute prohibition on cash investments.
Towards the turn of the year, the government announced its intention to hire three firms to carry out detailed due diligence checks on the applicants.
Further, it announced an internal audit review by these firms of all approved applications between 2008 and 2018 to assess compliance with the existing eligibility requirements.
The review will cover cases where applicants faced criminal charges or were placed under EU sanctions after having qualified for citizenship by fulfilling requirements at the time of application.
This means investors applying for fast-track citizenship under the Cyprus Investment Program may face revocation of naturalization for criminal violations conducted after acquiring citizenship.
Willingness to review successful applications and an explicit commitment to revoke the citizenship of those found in violation of eligibility rules has contributed to the program’s enhanced reputation and the Cypriot government’s credibility as its responsible administrator.
The jump in passport rankings underlines the fact that the majority of the world’s countries don’t view Cypriot passport holders as security risks, which means Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and other golden visa countries under fire are unlikely to heed calls to terminate their investment immigration programs.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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