The Cyprus finance minister has defended the country’s citizenship-by-investment scheme against criticism from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Harris Georgiades says there are no plans to tighten eligibility criteria as the pressure comes on from the EU and the IMF.
The minister described the program as a ‘useful tool’ in the Cyprus parliament, rejecting European Commission criticism that the country was ‘giving away’ passports.
“The state does not collect a single euro. The benefit is an indirect one, and has to do with invigorating the economy through a series of investments in various sectors,” Georgiades said in parliament.
Cyprus runs two programs, one that awards citizenship and one for permanent residence.
Under the citizenship program, some 1,100 passports have been issued in the four years since it began. By the end of 2016, the total investment stood at €3.3 billion in the citizenship program. For citizenship, the investment threshold is €2 million. The investment must include a residence on the island worth at least €500,000.
Cyprus Citizenship Program: Investment Requirements
Investment in real estate, land development, or infrastructure projects: €2m
Purchase of financial assets issued by Cypriot companies: €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
Under the permanent residence program, investors are only required to buy a home worth at least €300,000. This program has raised €700 million over four years, bringing the total investment in both programs to €4 billion.
Investment Requirements: Cyprus Residence Investor Program
- Deposit €30,000 with a financial institution in Cyprus.
- Possess secured annual income of not less than €30,000. This requirement will increase by €5,000 for every dependent person included in the application.
- Purchase a dwelling or any other property of minimum market value of €300,000
For a country that was forced to close banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, these investment euros are a crucial economic stimulus.
Georgiades says the government is considering changes to the rules on how the program is promoted and where it is advertised.
Certain agents empowered with promoting the program are known to look for investors in countries where dual citizenship is not allowed, which the government feels has impacted the reputation of the scheme.
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.
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