Cyprus has drawn investment equivalent to a quarter of its GDP in a stellar last 12 months for its investor citizenship program.
Mainly-Russian investors have helped pump €4 billion into the Cypriot economy through the program. Itrequires a €2 million investment in one of three streams, including real estate, purchase of financial assets or outright purchase of a Cypriot company.
Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades says 2,000 passports have been issued through the program, with estimates suggesting half of them have gone to wealthy Russian nationals.
Traditionally strong ties between Russia and Cyprus is one reason for the program’s success.
It also boasts one of the shortest processing time targets, with candidates told they could get their passport in just three months after the investment is made.
After the Cypriot banks hit crisis point during the global financial crisis, the citizenship program has gone a long way to helping the island nation drag itself out of recession.
However, the awarding of passport to rich Russians in return for investment has not pleased the European Commission. As a European Union member, Cypriot passport holders enjoy free movement around the bloc.
Cyprus Citizenship Program: Investment Requirements
Purchase of financial assets issued by Cypriot companies: €2m
Investment in real estate, land development, or infrastructure projects: €2m
Purchase, creation, or participation in Cypriot businesses or companies: €2m
Combination of the five three investment options (may include purchase of special government bonds worth €500,000): €2m
Candidates from the Middle East and North Africa have been lining up to take advantage of the programs, which offer European Union access as a major benefit.
If the €2 million citizenship option is too expensive, candidates can consider a Cyprus residency option, for which the threshold is €300,000.
Developers including Aristo Developers, which has 250 projects within Cyprus, have seen a spike in interest since the threshold change.
A huge Ayia Napa Marina project is also being funded in part by the investment immigration programs.
The country’s prime location between Europe and the Middle East make it an extremely popular option for wealthy Arabs looking for a second citizenship.
Benefits of Cyprus Citizenship
- The investor and his/her family become citizens of Cyprus and the European Union.
- The Cypriot passport allows for visa-free travel throughout the European Union and more than 140 nations including the most developed countries in the world.
- Investors can seek long-term residence in other European Union member countries without onerous residence requirements.
- Access to a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle with quality healthcare and educational facilities.
- Ability to retain dual citizenship and passport of second country along with Cypriot citizenship.
The volatility of the Middle East region means there is plenty of interest in having a backup option should problems arise.
Candidates must have a clean criminal record and must hold a residence permit in Cyprus prior to filing their application.
Customers from Thailand
Cyprus recently began looking to Thailand as it aims to attract new customers for its permanent residency and citizenship-by-investment programs.
Officials from the Mediterranean island have been engaging with their Thai counterparts in an attempt to boost relations between the two countries.
Cyprus is attractive to Thailand because of its status as a European Union member. It is also one of few EU member states to offer a citizenship-by-investment option.
Wealthy Lebanese nationals have also become key customers of the Cyprus investment immigration programs as they seek a safe haven from potential future conflict in their country.
With Cyprus still in full recovery mode following the acute financial troubles of the 2008 economic crash, investment from Lebanese – and other Middle East nations – is most welcome.
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