Europe is the most preferred destination for high net-worth immigrant investors with more than half the total citizenship applications in the world being filed in European countries offering investor immigration programs. Ranked next in popularity is the Caribbean region followed by countries in North America, viz. the USA and Canada.
In Europe, the citizenship through investment scheme offered by Cyprus is one of the most popular programs with numerous studies rating the program as one of the top ten Citizenship-by-Investment programs in the world. In 2012, Cyprus granted citizenship to 2300 investor immigrants, which clearly indicates the popularity that the program enjoys amongst high net-worth investors.
Apart from its comparatively low investment requirements, citizenship of Cyprus is in demand for the advantages and benefits that it offers to entrepreneurs, retired immigrants, and investor immigrants. A recent survey by a global real estate consultancy firm ranked Cyprus as the 5th best destination in the world for relocation. Apart from a lenient tax regime, Cyprus offers numerous lifestyle benefits that are not available to investor immigrants residing in other European nations.
The Cyprus investment immigration program scores over programs of other nations like Malta due to the fact that the former does not require any donation or payment to the local government. Investment immigrants seeking citizenship of Malta are required to make a donation of EUR 650,000 to the government. Further, Malta and other European nations require the applications to reside in the country before and during the application process. In some cases, residence is mandatory after grant of citizenship.
Cyprus offers a flexible framework for non-EU citizens to opt for investment immigration without onerous formalities or procedures. The low investment requirements coupled with lenient residency requirements make the Cypriot investment immigration program one of the most attraction program in Europe.
After grant of citizenship, there is no difference between an investment immigrant and other citizens of Cyprus. The applicant and his/her family are assured of equal treatment as far as access to education, welfare, and social benefits. After grant of citizenship, the individual and his/her family members can travel to EU territories just like any other EU citizen. From tax liability perspective, mere grant of citizenship does not make the applicant liable to pay tax in the country. The applicant must reside in Cyprus for not less than 183 days in a calendar year in order to become a resident for tax purposes.
Further, Cyprus offers applicants the option of gaining citizenship through a smaller investment of EUR 2.5 million by participating in a collective investment of value not less than EUR 12.5 million.
In order to obtain Cypriot citizenship through investment, the applicant of age not less than 30 years must purchase a private residence in Cyprus of value not less than EUR 500,000; have a clean criminal record; not be subject to freezing of property by authorities anywhere in the EU; and visit the country at least once.