Citizenship is a very crucial feature of modern societies. The concept of citizenship arose from the European Enlightenment, and its roots can be traced back to the French Revolution. Citizenship can be understood as a form of a civil contract between the state and an individual. By becoming a citizen of a certain country, an individual agrees to be governed by the laws that are enforced by the state within the geographical territory that is under the jurisdiction of that state. In return, the individual is provided with rights such as the right to free speech, the right to move freely, the right to vote, and other civil and political rights. Thus, we can say that citizenship forms the basis of rights that are enjoyed by citizens.
The traditional idea regarding citizenship was that citizenship was granted on the basis of country of birth. This basically meant that an individual automatically became a citizen of the country where he/she was born. However, with the onset of globalization, increase in global financial capital, and with the proliferation of multinational businesses, ideas pertaining to how citizenship is granted have become fluid. Currently, citizenship by birth is not the only way that individuals can acquire citizenship. There are other methods of acquiring it. Along with this, there are diverse kinds of citizenship, and provisions where individuals can change their citizenship or acquire citizenship of two countries at the same time. There are various reasons why people acquire citizenship of other countries. Cyprus citizenship benefits and Cyprus passport benefits have made it a popular country from which people seek an additional citizenship.
Cyprus is a European country located on the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. It ranks third by population among all the Mediterranean countries. Its neighboring countries include Turkey on the south, Syria and Lebanon on the west, Egypt on the north, and Greece on the southwest. Its location is very unique in the sense that Cyprus is located at the confluence of Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Cyprus passport benefits are immense, considering that Cyprus’s passport ranks eighth on the worldwide passport index 2019. The benefits of having a Cyprus passport are numerous! Having a Cypriot passport provides a person with visa-free travel to 122 countries, visa on arrival to 39 countries, and a prior visa is required only for 37 countries. Hence, it’s no wonder that people are increasingly applying for a Cypriot passport so that they can take advantage of the Cyprus citizenship benefits.
Other factors which have led to an increasing interest of people in acquiring the citizenship of Cyprus are its socio-economic conditions. Cyprus has an extremely high human development indicator of 0.869 and it ranks 32nd in the world in the Human Development Index. Apart from this, it also has an impressive $28.88 per-capita nominal GDP, which ranks 33rd in the world. Cyprus is also an extremely safe country and no reports of a major terrorist attack or large scale criminal activity have been reported from the country recently. It also has very good public infrastructure, with well-connected roads and a well-maintained transport system which connects all the major cities of the island country. The existence of efficient connectivity has convinced an increasing number of business people to invest in Cyprus and acquire citizenship by investment. Apart from this, the low crime rates have also been beneficial in helping people from war-torn countries or those which have high crime rates, to apply for Cypriot citizenship.
Another factor that has worked massively in favour of Cyprus is its healthcare system. Both public and private healthcare exist in Cyprus. While public healthcare is free for most of the citizens, even private healthcare does not have exorbitant rates unlike in some other countries. The doctors carrying out private practice have a certain amount of competency and fluency in spoken English. This becomes very useful for newly naturalized citizens who have not yet learnt to speak Greek or Turkish.
Methods By Which Citizenship Is Acquired
The various methods by which an individual becomes a citizen of a particular country are as follows:
- Citizenship based on country of birth – This concept of citizenship is referred to as jus soli. In this case, a person automatically becomes a citizen of that country where he/she was born. This kind of citizenship was seen for the first time in the United Kingdom.
- Citizenship based on the citizenship of parents – According to this concept, referred to as jus sanguinis in legal terms, an individual becomes a citizen of a country if one or both the parents of the concerned individual is a citizen of that country. Earlier, this rule was limited to only the father or those in the paternal lineage. However, gradually, it has now been extended to both the paternal as well as maternal lineage. In this concept of citizenship, even if a person were to be born abroad, he/she could still be a citizen of the country where either one or both parents are citizens.
- Citizenship based on marriage – Also referred to as jus matrimoni, an individual acquires citizenship under this category of the country to which his/her spouse belongs. In certain cases of citizenship based on marriage, a person can acquire the citizenship of their spouse only if they have a prior residency permit of that country. In other cases, the individual is granted new citizenship after a fixed period of time has passed since the marriage.
- Citizenship through naturalization – This is a little complicated method of granting citizenship since there are several ways an individual can become a naturalized citizen of another country. These methods include a country granting citizenship to an individual by giving political asylum, in case the person is fleeing from war or persecution. In addition, if a person holds a legal visa in another country, they can be given naturalized citizenship after the individual spends a given amount of time in the new country. For this, the person should not have a prior criminal record, must be well-versed with the language and culture of the country where he/she is seeking citizenship, and must also agree to abide by the rules, regulations, and laws over there.
- Citizenship based on investment – A relatively more recent form of citizenship, this involves an individual securing the citizenship of a country by making a requisite financial investment. This process is relatively quicker than citizenship by naturalization and has gained great popularity in recent years with more countries offering this type of citizenship.
Citizenship by Investment
Citizenship by investment is a citizenship acquiring process that is extremely beneficial to investors and businessmen who are seeking to acquire dual citizenship. Citizenship by investment is granted to someone when the individual makes an investment in the economy of the country where the person is seeking citizenship. The investment could be made in the form of money spent on businesses, shares, property, or simply a cash-donation, as required by the country’s individual citizenship by investment process. Through citizenship by investment, the process of granting citizenship is much more efficient and quicker as compared to other methods of acquiring citizenship. There are many countries that provide citizenship by investment facilities, and the number of those countries is increasing gradually. The process of acquiring citizenship by investment is different for different countries and requires varied costs. Some of the countries that provide citizenship by investment include Cyprus, Turkey, Malta, Grenada, Montenegro, Antigua, Bulgaria, Moldova, and many more.
As a lot of these countries are emerging economies, citizenship by investment helps in providing a much-needed boost to their economy. Through citizenship by investment, these countries diversify their economies, generate more jobs for their local populations, and utilize the talents and resources from foreign countries. This win-win situation explains why the number of countries providing citizenship by investment is increasing day by day.
Citizenship by Investment in Europe
Among the European countries, citizenship by investment opportunities is currently being provided by Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
- Malta – In the Maltese citizenship by investment programme, an investor has to donate € 650,000 and an extra €25,000 for the spouse and a minor child. Apart from this, the investor has to make an investment worth €150,000 in Malta stock markets for five years. Moreover, the investor also has to purchase a house in the country, worth a minimum of €350,000.
- Moldova – Moldova has comparatively more lenient conditions in its citizenship by investment programme as compared to Malta. In this case, an investor has to donate €100,000 along with an additional fee. Otherwise, the investor can choose to invest €250,000 in a real estate business. The real estate business where the investor chooses to invest must have prior approval from the Moldovan Government. This bottleneck by the Government is one of the downsides of Moldovan Citizenship by Investment programme.
- Turkey – As per Turkish government regulations, an investor has to invest €224,120 for a period of three years in a real estate business for obtaining Turkish citizenship under Turkey’s Citizenship by Investment programme. One problem with this programme is that the investor has to buy the real estate properties on the same date and register them at the same place.
Citizenship by Investment in Cyprus
To provide Cyprus citizenship benefits to a greater number of people, Cyprus rolled out its citizenship by investment programme in 2011. The programme is called Cyprus Naturalization of Investors by Exception Scheme. One of the reasons why the citizenship by investment programme of Cyprus has become so popular is because Cyprus has a very quick and efficient way of ensuring naturalization of a foreign citizen; it is done within 57 days. Cyprus is not a part of the Schengen visa scheme, unlike most of the European Union member nations. However, even then, it enables its citizens to travel all over Europe without a visa. This is also one of the many Cyprus passport benefits.
An investor can choose to the following schemes to become a citizen of Cyprus and thereby acquire Cyprus citizenship benefits.
- Donations – Donations form an important component of citizenship by investment programme of all countries which run citizenship by investment programmes. In the case of Cyprus, donations can be made by foreign nationals seeking Cypriot citizenship, to the Research and Innovation Foundation or the Cyprus Land Development Corporation. The investor has to donate a minimum of €75,000 to either of these two bodies for being considered for citizenship.
- The Research and Innovation Foundation was established in Cyprus in 1996. It is a non-governmental organisation whose main purpose is to conduct research for technological and scientific advancement in the country. Some of the research conducted by it is in the domains of Sustainable Development, Information Technologies, and Humanities and the Social Sciences.
- The Cyprus Land Development Corporation is dedicated to providing cheap and affordable housing. The investor can also donate money to this body for other housing schemes that are currently available in the country.
- Real Estate and Property – Under this scheme, the applicant has to invest a minimum amount of €2 million. This investment has to be made in the real estate, property, and infrastructure development sectors. The properties in which the money could be invested include residential projects, commercial enterprises, developing touristic infrastructure, real estate businesses, and many more.
- Participation in Existing Businesses – The applicant who is seeking Cypriot citizenship through the citizenship by investment scheme can also do so by establishing, purchasing, or becoming a part of an existing business or commercial enterprise in Cyprus. The investment required for doing any of the three mentioned above has to be a minimum of €2 million. Other associated conditions for this scheme include – the applicant must show proof that he/she has been staying in Cyprus before the period he/she is going to make the citizenship. This could be through a residency permit or by owning a house worth a minimum of €500,000. Apart from this, once the applicant starts participating in the existing business to which he/she has invested, the applicant also must employ a minimum of five Cypriot citizens in that business.
- Alternative Investment Funds – Under this scheme, an applicant has to invest a minimum amount of €2 million in an Alternative Investment Fund or a Registered Alternative Investment Fund of a Cypriot company. The company must be authorised by Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. An alternative investment refers to a non-conventional form of investment that is beyond conventional investments such as investments in stock markets, bonds, donations through cash, etc. Examples of alternative investments include artefacts and antique pieces, hedge funds, ventures, and commodities.
- A combination of all of the above – Applicants can choose to make an investment in a combination of all of the above schemes. In that case, the minimum amount that must be invested as a sum-total of all the various types of investments is €2 million.
Requirements for Citizenship by Investment in Cyprus
The prior requirements for getting a Cyprus citizenship under the citizenship by investment programme in Cyprus are as follows:
- The applicant must have a valid passport.
- The applicant must not have any prior criminal record.
- The applicant must be in possession of a Schengen visa.
- The applicant must not have had his/her visa or passport application rejected by any other EU member country.
- Prior to being considered for citizenship of Cyprus, the person must have had a residency permit of the country for a period of six months. This six-month period must be till the time when the person is granted citizenship.
- The investor must own a house in Cyprus that is worth at least €500,000, with additional taxes.
Cyprus is a rapidly growing economy and because of the Cyprus passport benefits, people are increasingly applying for Cypriot citizenship, especially through the citizenship by investment scheme. Cities in Cyprus, such as Limassol, bear testimony to the country’s growing economic fortunes. The city currently has a huge number of development projects and skyscrapers that can easily surpass any European city. A lot of these projects are owing to the popularity of the citizenship by investment of the country. It is because of these developments the city has rightly earned the epithet of ‘Moscow of the Mediterranean’.
Some of the problems associated with the citizenship by investment scheme of Cyprus is that its costs are usually higher than similar projects in other European countries. Moreover, the clause regarding the possession of a private house in Cyprus is also a little complicated. However, Cyprus is indeed a wonderful destination for investing and acquiring citizenship as it provides enhanced travel access, a soothing climate, natural beauty, business opportunities and a booming economy.
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