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RESIDENCY & IMMIGRATION

Third country or EU nationals wishing to relocate to Cyprus, can benefit from a wide range of options for acquiring an immigration and/or a residency permit of their choice, which include:

Immigration Permits

Immigration permits can be obtained on the basis of one of the categories which are provided for under Regulation 5 of the Aliens and Immigration Regulations of 1972 (RAA 242/1972) and specifically:

Category A: Persons who intend to work as self-employed in agriculture, cattle breeding, bird breeding or fish culture in the Republic of Cyprus, provided that they have in their possession adequate land or a permit to acquire the same, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of approximately €430,000 (CY£250,000), and such an employment should not adversely affect the general economy of the Republic of Cyprus.

Category B: Persons who intend to work as self-employed in mining enterprises in the Republic of Cyprus, provided that they have in their possession a relevant permit, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of approximately €350,000 (CY£200,000), and such employment should not adversely affect the general economy of the Republic of Cyprus.

Category C: Persons who intend to work as self-employed in a trade or a profession in the Republic of Cyprus, provided that they have in their possession a relevant permit, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of approximately €260,000 (CY£150,000) and such an employment should not adversely affect the general economy of the Republic of Cyprus.

Category D: Persons who intend to work as self-employed in a profession or in a field of science in the Republic of Cyprus, provided that they have academic or professional qualifications for which there is demand in the Republic, as well as to have in their possession adequate funds.

Category E: Persons who have been offered permanent employment in the Republic of Cyprus, which will not create undue local competition.

Category F: Persons who possess and have fully and freely at their disposal a secured annual income, high enough to give them a decent standard of living in the Republic of Cyprus, without having to engage in any business, trade or profession. The annual income acquired by the individual should be at least €9,568.17 (CY£5,600) for a single applicant. An additional annual income of at least €4,613.22 (CY£2,700) is required for every dependant person (e.g., a child, a spouse and a parent). It should be noted that the Immigration Control Board has the discretion to request for additional amounts as may be necessary in each case.

Remarkably, most Immigration Permit applicants pursue this last category, Category F, the majority of whom are pensioners and retired individuals seeking to relocate to Cyprus.

Regulation 6(2) of the Aliens and Immigration Regulations: A Fast-Track Procedure

On 24 March 2021 the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus has issued a decision revising the criteria for issuing Immigration Permits to third country nationals-applicants through a fast-track procedure for qualifying investments made in the Republic of Cyprus. Applicants must invest at least €300,000 in one of the following investment categories:

  • Investment in a house or apartment (flat): purchase of a house or an apartment by a land development company, which must be a first sale of at least €300,000 plus VAT.
  • Investment in real estate (excluding houses/apartments): purchase of other types of immovable property (e.g., offices, shops/stores, hotels) or a combination of such developments or investments totalling €300,000.
  • Investment in the share capital of a Cypriot company with activities and personnel in Cyprus: investment of €300,000 in the share capital of a company registered in the Republic of Cyprus, which is based in (and is active in) the Republic of Cyprus and has a proven physical presence in Cyprus and employs at least five (5) people.
  • Investment in shares of the Cyprus Investment Association of Collective Investments: investment of €300,000 in shares of the Cyprus Investment Association of Collective Investments (investment types: AIF, AIFLNP, RAIF).

Moreover, applicants must have an insured annual income of at least €30,000 increased by €5,000 for every dependant family member and €8,000 for every dependant parent of the applicant and/or of their spouse.

In each case, the applicant must satisfy the certain qualitative and legal criteria pertaining to the applicant’s selected investment as part of their application.

The application, along with its accompanying documents, must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the respective application fee must be paid for the application to be deemed as submitted.

Long-Term Residency Permits

The beneficiaries of Long-Term Residency Permits are third-country nationals, including family members of European Union citizens who do not fall within the ambit of The Right of Union Citizens and their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely within the Territory of the Republic of Cyprus Law of 2007 (L.7(I)/2007), as amended. These third-country nationals will have resided legally and continuously within the Republic of Cyprus for five (5) years prior to the submission of the relevant application and possess valid residence permits. The following persons are excluded from this category of Long-Term Residency Permits:

The application for a Long-Term Residency Permit, along with its accompanying documents, must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the respective application fee must be paid for the application to be deemed as submitted.

For comprehensiveness purposes, it is noted that any change in the applicant’s circumstances must be notified to the CRMD. Moreover, the validity of a Long-Term Residency Permit may be renewed at the end of its expiry date.

Temporary Residency Permits

Temporary Residency Permits may be issued for the below-listed categories, subject to specified criteria being satisfied in each case accordingly:

  • Start-up permit, as amended from time to time;
  • Employees (including Domestic and General Employment employees), not in companies of foreign interests;
  • Visitors;

  • Students;

  • Researchers;

  • Trainees and Volunteers;

  • Recognised Refugees, subsidiary protection and Asylum seekers;
  • Family members of Cypriot citizens; and
  • Intra-Corporate transfers.

The application for a Temporary Residency Permit, along with its accompanying documents, must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the respective application fee must be paid for the application to be deemed as submitted.

In addition, the validity of Temporary Residency Permits may be renewed at the end of their expiry date, based on any applicable exceptions that the CRMD or the applicable legislation may impose from time to time.

Employment in Companies with Foreign Interests

Third country nationals may be employed at a Cyprus company of foreign interests and obtain a Temporary Residency Permit. Recently, the Council of Ministers has reviewed and updated the eligibility criteria and overall procedure for the employment of third country nationals at existing and new Cyprus companies of foreign interests, as well as at companies that have joined the Fast-Track Business Activation Mechanism.

The main change in the regime for Employment at Companies of Foreign Interests is the possibility to employ a higher number of third country nationals in specific professions, or with certain skills, for which there is a significant shortage of supply at a national level. This process may be done without prior approval from the Ministry of Labour, Welfare & Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus, taking into account the respective company’s annual turnover.

Eligibility

Companies of foreign interests must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to employ third country nationals in Cyprus:

Criterion 1: The majority shareholders, or in cases where direct ownership is not evidenced by the company’s certificates, ultimate beneficial owners are third country nationals, with the following exceptions:

  • Public companies registered in any recognised stock exchange;
  • Former offshore companies that were operating in Cyprus by approval of the Central Bank of the Republic of Cyprus, before the change of their offshore status;
  • Cypriot shipping companies;
  • Cypriot companies of high technology and innovation, which will be certified by the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy based on the applicable framework;
  • Cypriot pharmaceutical companies or companies operating in the fields of biogenetics and biotechnology;
  • Persons who have acquired Cypriot citizenship by naturalisation based on economic criteria, given that they will prove that the conditions under which they were naturalised are still met.

Criterion 2: For companies employing third country nationals for the first time, the ultimate beneficial owner must invest at least €200,000 in the Republic of Cyprus, for the purposes of operating the company. In case where the percentage of foreign participation in the share capital of the company is equal to or below ≤50% then the percentage must represent an amount equal to or greater than ≥€ 200,000 as stated above.

Criterion 3: The company must establish or operate independent offices in Cyprus in appropriate premises, separate from any private housing or other office, except in the case of business cohabitation.

 

Categories of employed personnel

Category 1 – Directors: This category includes Directors or Partners registered at the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver, General Managers of branches and of mother companies of alien companies, Departmental Managers and Project Managers. There is a minimum acceptable gross monthly salary which may be adjusted from time to time, depending on fluctuations in the wage index. The maximum number for this category is five (5) employees per company.

Category 2 – Middle management executives and other key personnel: This category includes Upper / Middle Management personnel as well as other administrative, secretarial or technical staff.

There is a minimum acceptable gross monthly salary which may be adjusted from time to time, depending on fluctuations in the wage index. The maximum number for this category is ten (10) employees per company.

Category 3 – Specialists: Companies are entitled to employ third country nationals in professions or with the skills in the following list published by the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD):

  • Software and System Engineers;
  • Application and Data Architects;
  • Information and Communication Technology and Enterprise Solution Architects;
  • Technical Assurance Professionals;
  • Telecom and Space Engineers;
  • Data Scientists;
  • Machine Learning Engineers;
  • Web Developers and Designers;
  • UX User Experience Professionals;
  • Quantitative Analysts;
  • Quality Assurance Analysts;
  • Mobile Application Developers;
  • Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality Programmers;
  • Digital Marketing Specialists;
  • Video Production Multimedia Specialists for Mobile Apps and Software;
  • Analysts for Mobile Apps and Software;
  • Designers of Prototype for Mobile Devices;
  • DevOps Engineers;
  • Cyber Security Specialists;
  • Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Big Data Specialists;
  • Pharmaceutical Formulation Technologists;
  • Pharmaceutical Engineer Validation Specialists;
  • Naval Architects.
  • Marine Engineers; and
  • Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Quality Assurance Professionals;
  • Pharmaceutical Patents Specialists;

There is a minimum acceptable gross monthly salary which may be adjusted from time to time, depending on fluctuations in the wage index. The maximum number of employees in this category is determined based on the company’s annual turnover:

  • ≤1 million: 5 employees
  • €1 – €3 million: 10 employees
  • €3 – €5 million: 20 employees
  • €5 – €10 million: 30 employees
  • €10 – €20 million: 50 employees
  • €20 – €30 million: 100 employees
  • >€30 million: 200 employees

It is important to note that eligible companies which relocate to Cyprus and have joined the Fast Track Business Activation Mechanism, the turnover that will be taken into account will be the one of the company’s abroad. This will be valid for the first two (2) years of operations in Cyprus. Following these 2 years, the annual turnover of the company in Cyprus will be taken into account.

For comprehensiveness purposes, it is noted that companies already registered in the Register of Foreign Companies of the CRMD may automatically benefit from the policy for employment of third country nationals in this category.

Category 4 – Support Personnel: This category includes all third country nationals who are not included in Categories 1-3 above. Companies are expected to fill-in positions in this category with Cypriot or European citizens. In the case where there are no qualified Cypriots or European citizens available, a company may employ third country nationals in posts in this category at a rate of 30% of the total staff. This rate will be reviewed by the Department of Labour during the labour market test.

For this category, the General Employment procedure is followed, by which an approval from the Ministry of Labour is required prior to submitting the relevant application to the CRMD.

The market test is not necessary for third country nationals with free access to the labour market.

For Categories 1-4: If a company’s wishes to employ a greater number of third country nationals under the above categories, it must justify its request to the CRMD and provide details including, amongst others:

  • The salary offered;
  • The company’s turnover;
  • The ratio of third country nationals-employees to Cypriots / EU Nationals; and
  • The company’s period of operation in the Republic of Cyprus.

Requests should only concern specific persons whose employment is considered necessary by the company concerned; general requests are not considered.

For Categories 1-3: If a company’s wishes to exceed the limit of 300 third country nationals employed in Categories 1-3 above, the consent of the Council of Ministers is required.

Naturalisation

A Naturalisation application may be submitted by third country nationals, who have completed seven (7) years of legally residing in the Republic of Cyprus prior to the date of application. In cases of third country nationals who are either parents or children of Cypriot citizens, the time requirement is five (5) years rather than seven (7) years. In any case, the applicant must have resided legally and continuously in the Republic of Cyprus during the twelve (12) months preceding the date of the Naturalisation application.

The Naturalisation application, along with its accompanying documents, must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the respective application fee must be paid for the application to be deemed as submitted. For comprehensiveness purposes, it is noted that any change in the applicant’s circumstances must be notified to the CRMD.

European Union (EU) Nationals & Family Members

EU Nationals and their family members, who are also EU citizens, are obligated to be registered in the Civil Registry for the periods of their residence in the Republic of Cyprus that exceed three (3) months according to the provisions of The Right of Union Citizens and their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely within the Territory of the Republic of Cyprus Law of 2007 (L.7(I)/2007), as amended, within a period of four (4) months from their date of arrival to the Republic (Sections 10(4)(a)-(c) and (6) of this Law are relevant).

The registration application, along with its accompanying documents, must be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) and the respective application fee must be paid for the application to be deemed as submitted. For comprehensiveness purposes, it is noted that any change in the applicant’s circumstances must be notified to the CRMD.

Failure to comply with the registration requirement pursuant to the aforementioned Law is considered an offence punishable with a monetary fine not exceeding €2,500.

 

Note:

Any documents issued by a foreign authority must be duly translated into the Greek or English languages and be duly authenticated. To elaborate, if a document is issued by a State that has ratified the Hague Convention, such document must bear the “APOSTILLE” stamp authentication. In all other cases, the relevant document must be sealed by the competent Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the issuing State and the Diplomatic Mission of the Republic of Cyprus in that issuing State.

Our Immigration & Residency Practice Portfolio

At ServPRO, our team of professionals have more than 10 years of practical experience in the fields of Immigration & Residency in Cyprus. Our clients know they can entrust us to undertake the entire procedure in securing any type of residency and immigration permits from the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, to carry out the naturalisation process in order to obtain citizenship, as well as any other immigration-related service.

Contact us today for an initial, complimentary consultation.

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