Significant amendments to the Cyprus Investment Programme were formally approved by the Cyprus Cabinet on the 13th February 2019. All the amendments will come into effect on the 15th May 2019. (https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/02/13/cabinet-approves-changes-to-golden-visa-scheme/).
The move comes after the European Commission criticized Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria, regarding the programmes of granting citizenship to investors, in its Report on the 23rd January 2019 (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-526_en.htm).
In the Report, the European Commission warned that investor citizenship programmes in EU states, increase the possibilities of suspicious activities in the Union, and stated that there was room for improvement to further comply with EU rules.
The Finance Minister, Mr. Harris Georgiades, said that these amendments make the Cyprus Investment Programme “even more targeted and trustworthy” (http://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/cyprus-introduces-stricter-rules-for-citizenship-by-investment).
One of the key amendments to the Cyprus Investment Programme, is that there will be an additional expense of EUR 150K, per applicant (https://in-cyprus.com/cabinet-approves-changes-in-cyprus-investment-program/).
The EUR 75K will go towards the Foundation for Research and Innovation and the other EUR 75 K will go towards the country’s Social Housing Programme policy.
The Minister declared that this is to “further encourage the creation of an eco-system of business innovation” and to “ensure that for every naturalisation of a foreign investor, funds will also go towards an affordable home for our fellow citizens who are in need” (http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers.com/2019/02/14/changes-citizenship-scheme-approved/id=00155392).
Other amendments include due diligence by independent foreign specialists, as well as the duration that the investor must keep his/ her investment from the date of naturalization, has been extended from three to five years.
As an extra measure, there is now the obligation to obtain a Schengen visa for all applicants. The reason for this amendment is that the Schengen visa is proof that the holders have already been through a due diligent process, by another European country.
Also, a person who has applied for citizenship in another Member State of the European Union and has been rejected, will not be entitled to Cypriot citizenship within the framework of the Cyprus Investment Programme.
The Finance Minister also declared a 13 per cent of economic growth in the past three years. The citizenship programme’s contribution to this was 1.2 per cent (https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/02/13/cabinet-approves-changes-to-golden-visa-scheme/).
In total, 1,864 citizenship applications have been approved since 2013 (not including family members) and the total transactions were up to EUR 6.6 billion (http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers.com/2019/02/14/changes-citizenship-scheme-approved/id=00155392).