In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of citizenship applications to Cyprus. This increase has been fuelled by several factors. Of these, an important factor is Cyprus’s very lucrative citizenship by investment programme which enables rich individuals to invest in Cyprus in return for a Cypriot citizenship. Of course, it goes without saying that the interest of the businesspeople in Cyprus could not have taken place without certain proactive measures taken by the Government of Cyprus. The Cypriot government has made governance smooth and easy without unnecessary bureaucratic hassles. It is due to this reason that the formalities of getting naturalized citizenship are completed and an individual is granted Cypriot citizenship within a period of just six to seven months, or even earlier than that. For instance, one individual who had applied for the citizenship of Cyprus acquired it within just 57 days!
Others, who do not belong to the business class, would also be interested in acquiring citizenship of Cyprus. They are motivated by the country’s low crime rates, good lifestyle, and quality of life, well-maintained public infrastructure, and a properly conceptualized and well-implemented public health system. Citizenship by investment programmes have become a very important tool for countries to boost their economies. Through this citizenship scheme, emerging economies invite wealthy businessmen to invest in their country in return for the citizenship of that country.
Modern governments function through a complex web of institutions which perform various tasks related to the running of a country. Naturally, people encounter these governmental institutions for carrying out their day to day activities. Understanding this complex web of governmental institutions and their bureaucracy, knowing how they function and how people can benefit from them – comprehending all this can often be a daunting task. Cyprus citizenship Department is the institutional body that is responsible for citizenship-related issues. It receives the citizenship applications, processes them and makes a decision about them. The Cyprus citizenship Department functions under the interior ministry of the Government of Cyprus.
Citizenship Of Cyprus
An individual can become a citizen of Cyprus through the following ways:
- Natural citizenship of Cyprus – An individual who is born in Cyprus and/or has Cypriot parents automatically becomes a citizen of Cyprus. It is not necessary for both parents to be Cypriot. If either of them is one, their offspring will automatically be notified as a citizen of Cyprus.
- Naturalized citizenship of Cyprus – Naturalized citizens are those citizens of a country who were not granted citizenship of that country during their birth, but later went on to take up citizenship of that particular country. There are several ways by which an individual can become a naturalized citizen of Cyprus. These include:
- Staying in the country – This process is also described as citizenship by residency. To be eligible for acquiring citizenship by this process, an individual must have stayed in Cyprus for seven years. The period gets reduced to five years if the individual’s parents or offspring also live in Cyprus.
- Citizenship through marriage – An individual can apply for the citizenship of Cyprus if his/her spouse already holds Cypriot citizenship. When applying for the citizenship both spouses have to present copies of their respective passports, their marriage certificate, and a statement signed in front of a local authority that they share a happy marital relationship.
- Citizenship through parents – There are certain separate formalities for those seeking to apply for Cypriot citizenship because their parents also hold the citizenship of Cyprus. Those born after August 16, 1960, whose father is a citizen of Cyprus, can apply for Cypriot citizenship. Another provision exists for those who are born after June 11, 1999, and their mother is a citizen of Cyprus, who can do the same.
- Citizenship through investment – This citizenship scheme was launched by the government of Cyprus in 2011 and was intended to bring about foreign direct investment to the country and ensure rapid economic growth. Under this scheme, wealthy individuals around the world are offered a chance to secure a Cypriot passport by making monetary investments in Cyprus. This scheme has become lucrative to individuals around the world because of the strength a Cypriot passport holds. One major privilege that comes with the passport of Cyprus is that it 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.
Investors can make donations amounting to a minimum €75,000 to various research bodies of the country, for carrying out research on diverse matters of national interest. Another scheme allows investors to make investments in the real estate and property business for a minimum amount of €2 million. In another scheme, can investors can participate or buy an existing business of the country. The minimum amount that must be spent in this case is €2 million. And finally, an investor can choose to invest in all of the above schemes and the minimum combined amount that must be spent should be €2 million.
The Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus is the nodal body of the Interior Ministry of Cyprus which takes care of citizenship-related issues and migration of people to Cyprus. The Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus also looks after the concerns of Cypriot citizens who stay outside the country or expatriates. This department is also referred to as the Civil Registry and Migration Department and is located in Chilonos Street in Nicosia.
Benefits Of A Cyprus Citizenship
Some of the reasons why people wish to take up a second citizenship from Cyprus are as follows:
- Strict visa requirements for certain passports – Not all passports carry the same amount of privilege. It is very likely that a passport of a certain country provides visa-free travel to only a limited number of countries. In that case, certain citizens of those countries would want to take up a second citizenship. The passport of Cyprus carries with it a lot of privileges, allowing travel to numerous countries without the need for a lengthy visa application process. Hence, Cyprus has become a very natural destination for individuals seeking dual citizenship.
- Economic reasons – Cyprus has a very positive business atmosphere where individuals can invest in for business purposes and profits. Cyprus has an efficient and robust citizenship by investment programme in place which is gaining traction among a lot of global businessmen who are seeking newer avenues for their businesses, which is one of the reasons why people would like to acquire dual citizenship.
- Lower taxes – Certain countries, like Cyprus, have very lucrative taxation systems which especially attracts the attention of business people who are seeking to be a citizen of a country which has tax schemes that are beneficial for them. In those cases, individuals would like to acquire a second citizenship. An example of a beneficial taxation scheme would be one in which, taxes are charged from a citizen only for the earnings made within the country of which an individual is a citizen. Investors who have businesses across the world would definitely wish to seek a second citizenship of countries which have such a taxation system in place.
- A Better Quality of Life – Another instance in which an individual would like to seek a second citizenship is when he/she is looking for a higher quality of life. Cyprus offers a modernistic and high quality of life with lower cost of living expenses, making it a popular location for individuals to seek an additional citizenship from. Apart from a generally higher quality of life, individuals may also seek an additional citizenship if the country where an applicant holds his/her first citizenship is going through an economic crisis resulting in a loss of jobs, hence the applicant might wish to apply for a second citizenship of a country which might be providing better employment opportunities. Other extreme examples might include that the applicant’s country of first citizenship is passing through a situation of war, terrorism or such situations where the applicant’s life, safety, and well-being are under threat. In such situations, the applicant would like to apply for a secondary citizenship. For this context, it might be said that the applicant is forced due to existing circumstances to apply for a second citizenship.
Interior Ministry of Cyprus
The Interior Ministry also referred to as Interior Affairs Ministry, or Home Ministry – is a crucial body of any governmental setup. It is responsible for taking care of the internal security of a nation, managing the borders of the country, taking care of issues pertaining to citizenship and immigration, supervising and looking after local governmental bodies, supervising the elections and maintaining law and order and the police. In certain cases, the Interior Ministry also takes care of judicial matters. However, sometimes a separate ministry exists for it.
The issues pertaining to citizenship and immigration in Cyprus falls under the ambit of the Interior Ministry of Cyprus. It is headed by the Interior Minister. Under the Interior, the ministry works with the permanent secretary who is the most important bureaucrat, with the responsibility to look after the various departments that come under the ambit of the Interior Ministry. Some of the departments that operate under the Interior Ministry include the Accounts Department, Land Records Department, Local Authority and Media Department, Land and Survey Department, Civil Registry and Migration Department, etc. Further, some of these departments have certain sub-departments which carry out specialized tasks.
These local governmental units help in decentralizing the decision-making process and ensure that political power is not concentrated in the hands of a few ruling bodies. Through local governing bodies, the ordinary people of a country have a say in how laws and regulations will be formulated, and therefore, they feel empowered. These local bodies ensure that societies become truly democratic and a country is not democratic only on paper. The Cyprus citizenship department has immense importance as it looks after the various citizenship programmes offered by the government.
Department Of Citizenship And Expatriate Affairs Cyprus
The head of this department is referred to as a director who is responsible for overseeing all its activities. The department has two sub-departments called the civil registry section and the migration section. These sub-departments are supervised by several bureaucrats who look after the different tasks that are to be performed by these sub-departments. The civil registry section is responsible for maintaining all important records regarding its citizens. It issues birth certificates, death certificates, marriage registration certificates, and similar other civil documents that a citizen would require. It is through the issuance of these documents that the government keeps a record.
The migration sub-department is the one that deals with the citizenship and migration-related works of the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus. Some of its major responsibilities include issuing immigration permits to foreign nationals who have come to Cyprus, granting short-term visas to tourists and visitors, issuing student visas, issuing long-term residency permits, looking after border-related issues, settling labor disputes, etc. Apart from this, it also plays an important role in the official formalities of Cypriot citizens who are applying for a visa to another country or immigrating to another country. Even after a Cypriot citizen has immigrated, the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus remains the point of contact for the expatriates. This department also takes care of issues and problems of the family members of a citizen of Cyprus, who are not citizens of Cyprus but are staying in the country through a residency permit.
Considering that Cyprus is a member of the European Union and allows free access to most of the European Union nations (although it is not a part of the Schengen visa agreement), this free access of Cypriot citizens to various European Union countries is taken care of and monitored by this department.
Both applications for a Cypriot passport and individuals who seek to apply for Cyprus citizenship are assessed and outcomes are given on them by the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus.
The information pertaining to the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus becomes very important in the light of the value of a Cypriot passport. The passport of Cyprus ranks 8th in the world and has a very high visa-free score of 162. Holding a Cypriot passport will provide an individual with visa-free travel to 122 countries and a visa on arrival to 39 countries. A prior visa is required only for 37 countries. It is also important to note that some of the countries where a Cypriot passport holder is eligible for visa-free entry are some of the major countries of the world not just some of the minor nations of the world. Some of the major countries where a Cypriot citizen is offered visa-free entry include Belgium, Brazil, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, and many more. It is interesting to note that Cyprus, being a very small island nation with a population of less than one million people, has been able to devise such a powerful passport itself. This explains the recent upsurge in citizenship applications for Cyprus.
Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs Cyprus also deals with the somewhat complex issue of second citizenship. Cyprus is a country that allows individuals to take up dual citizenship. Hence, it provides a huge incentive to applicants who wish to take up the citizenship of Cyprus, but at the same time do not wish to relinquish the passport of their previous country as well.
Cyprus has emerged as a popular destination for people to reside in, study in, work in and retire in, as it has natural beauty, a pleasing climate and a burgeoning economy. The country has abundant history and yet has moved on swiftly with the needs of the times. The prevalence of the citizenship by investment programme in Cyprus, overseen by the Cyprus citizenship department, has made it easier for individuals to secure citizenship in a short span of time. The citizenship of Cyprus not only opens doors in the Mediterranean island nation, but also of the overall European Union, promising unlimited potential across the numerous European nations. The Cyprus citizenship by investment programme does involve a significant amount of investment; however, the benefits that accompany the passport are plentiful and the time required is very less.
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