Temporary and Permanent Residence Permits in Cyprus
Permanent Residence Permits
- Investors’ Residence Permits
An expedited procedure exists for granting a residence permit to third country nationals who intent to invest in Cyprus.
An applicant should meet the following criteria:
- Must have deposited the amount of at least €30.000 into a Cypriot bank account, which is pledged for a period of at least three years. The applicant must have sufficient evidence that the said amount has been transferred to Cyprus from abroad.
- Must have a secured minimum annual income of €30.000, which is derived from sources from abroad and which may include, between others, salaries from employment, pensions, dividends from shares, fixed deposits and rents. The said amount increases by €5.000 for every dependent person (spouse and children) and by €8.000 for every dependent parent or parent-in-law.
- Must have acquired one or two properties in Cyprus, which is/are sold for the first time by a development company, of a total minimum market value of €300.000 plus VAT. If the applicant acquired two properties, then at least one of them should be a private residential property. If the property/properties is/are not yet finished, then the applicant must be able to prove the payment of at least €200.000 plus VAT. The said amount must have been transferred to Cyprus from abroad. The acquisition of properties in the name of a legal person established in Cyprus, or in a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area may be accepted if the applicant and/or his/her spouse are the sole shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners of the said legal person.
- Must have a clean criminal record from the country of residence and declare that he/she does not intend to undertake any sort of employment in Cyprus.
It should be noted that, in order not to lose the residence permit, a successful applicant must visit Cyprus at least once every two years.
- Long Term Residence Permits
A third country national, who has resided legally and continuously in Cyprus for five years, may apply for a long-term residence permit (this is subject to exemptions, e.g. students).
The long-term residence permit offers to its holders many rights which are equal to the rights of Cypriot citizens, such as equal access to employment in all local or international businesses with Cypriot citizens, the right to social security and tax advantages and access to goods and services.
An applicant should meet, between others, the following criteria:
- Must have resided legally and continuously within the controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus areas for five years prior to the submission of the application.
- Must possess a valid residence permit in Cyprus.
- Must have stable and regular income that is adequate to support himself/herself and his/her dependents. The applicant’s income from employment, income from sources other than employment and the cost of life (including the cost of rent) are some of the factors considered for the evaluation of the applicant’s resources.
- Must be employed by a person registered at the register of employers.
- Must have a clean criminal record certificate from Cyprus.
- Must obtain a certificate of knowledge of the Greek language (level A2) for foreigners.
- Category F Residence Permits
A person who is not employed in Cyprus, but wishes to reside in Cyprus, may apply for a category F residence permit. The majority of the applicants in this category are pensioners or retired persons.
An applicant should meet the following criteria:
- Must have a secured minimum annual income of €9.568,17, which may be derived from pensions, dividends from shares, fixed deposits, rents, etc. The said amount increases by at least €4.613,22 for every dependent person. The Immigration Control Board may demand higher or additional amounts, if it considers fit.
- Must not engage in any business, trade or profession.
- Must have a clean criminal record from the country of residence.
It should be noted that, in order not to lose the residence permit, a successful applicant must acquire residence in Cyprus within one year from the approval of the application, in case he/she is residing outside Cyprus, and he/she must not acquire a permanent residence abroad or be absent from Cyprus for a period of two years.
- Other Residence Permits
Apart from the above residence permits, the following categories also exist, but they are rarely used in practice.
Category A permits enable persons who intend to work as self-employed in agriculture, cattle breeding, bird breeding or fish culture in Cyprus to apply for a residence permit. An applicant must have in his/her possession adequate land or have permission to acquire adequate land, have fully and freely at his/her disposal a capital of approximately €430.000, and such employment must not negatively affect the general economy of Cyprus.
Category B permits enable persons who intend to work as self-employed in mining enterprises in Cyprus, to apply for a residence permit. An applicant must have in his/her possession the relevant permit, have fully and freely at his/her disposal a capital of approximately €350.000 and such employment must not negatively affect the general economy in Cyprus.
Category C permits enable persons who intend to work as self-employed in a trade or profession in Cyprus to apply for a residence permit, provided that they have in their possession the relevant permit, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of approximately €260.000 and such an employment should not affect negatively the general economy of Cyprus.
Category D permits enable persons who intend to work as self-employed in a profession or science in Cyprus to apply for a residence permit, provided that they have academic or professional qualifications, for which there is demand in Cyprus. The applicants must also possess sufficient funds or have a secured income.
Category E permits enable persons who have been offered permanent employment in Cyprus to apply for a residence permit, provided that such employment will not create unjust local competition.
Temporary Residence Permits
- Start-up Permit
The Cyprus start-up visa scheme (which was extended until March 2021) allows talented third country entrepreneurs, either individually or as a part of a team, to reside and work in Cyprus in order to establish, operate or develop a start-up with a high growth potential.
During the validity of this scheme, up to 150 visas may be issued.
The enterprise must be innovative, i.e. its research and development costs must represent at least 10% of its operating costs, in at least one of the three years preceding the submission of the application, as certified by an external auditor. In the case of a new enterprise, the applicant must submit a business plan setting out the element of innovation. Also, the enterprise’s head offices must be established in Cyprus and the enterprise’s management and control must be exercised in Cyprus.
This scheme applies to the founders of such businesses, to its managers and support staff and it is subdivided in two plans, the individual and team plan.
In relation to the individual plan, an applicant should meet, between others, the following criteria:
- Must be the sole founder of the business and must hold the majority of its shares.
- Must have a capital of €50.000, which may include venture capital funding, crowdfunding or other sources of financing.
- Must hold an undergraduate degree or an equivalent professional qualification.
- Must have a very good knowledge of the Greek and/or English language.
In relation to the team plan, the following criteria should be satisfied:
- The team must consist either (a) solely of founders, the number of which must not exceed five, or (b) of at least one founder and other senior executives, the number of which does not exceed five individuals in total. The senior executives must have the right to stock options.
- The team must possess, in total, more than 50% of the company’s shares.
- The founder must have a capital of €25.000, which may include venture capital funding, crowd funding or other sources of financing. In the event that the founders are more than two, then the said amount increases to €50.000.
- At least one of the team members must hold an undergraduate or an equivalent professional qualification.
- All team members must have a very good knowledge of Greek and/or English language.
Successful applicants will obtain, between others, (a) the right to reside and exercise an economic activity in Cyprus for one year, with the right to renew for at least another year, (b) the right to be self-employed or employed in his/her company established in Cyprus, (c) the potential to reside in Cyprus without any time restrictions, if the enterprise succeeds, (d) the prospective recruitment of a specific number of third country nationals without the prior approval of the Department of Labour, in case of success of the enterprise.
The success or failure of the enterprise is assessed at the end of the second year of its operation.
- Companies of Foreign Interests
Companies of foreign interests may employ third country nationals in Cyprus, provided that the following conditions apply:
- The majority of the company’s shareholders must be third country nationals. If the shareholders of a company are legal entities, then their ultimate beneficial owners should be declared.
- Must prove that a foreign direct investment of at least €171.000 was legally admitted to Cyprus from abroad. This requirement only applies to companies which will employ staff from third countries for the first time.
- Must have at least €41.006 deposited in its Cypriot bank account (from the initial investment of €171.000).
- Must operate from self-contained offices in Cyprus, which should be housed in suitable premises, separate from any private housing or other office, except in the case of business co-habitation.
The following categories of staff may be employed:
- Executive directors, e.g. directors or partners (registered as such at the Cyprus Companies Registry), general managers of branches and subsidiary foreign companies and departmental managers. There is a maximum number of executive directors each company may employ. The minimum acceptable monthly gross salary for an employee who is appointed as an executive director is €3.872.
- Middle management staff, e.g. directors who are not considered to be executive directors as well as other executive/middle-management staff or other managerial, clerical or technical personnel with a monthly gross salary ranging from €1.936 to €3.871. There is a maximum number of middle management staff each company may employ.
- Supporting staff, e.g. all third country nationals employed in other professional, managerial, technical, clerical etc. positions in Cyprus that do not fall under the above-mentioned categories. Companies are expected to employ Cypriots or European citizens for this category. In the case where there are no qualified Cypriots or European citizens available, a company may employ third country nationals, provided that the company first obtains the approval of the Department of Labour.
The validity of the temporary residence and employment permit depends on the duration of the employment contract and can be up to two years, with a right of renewal.
It is noted that companies should not commit themselves to employing third country nationals for the aforementioned positions before the proposed employees secure a temporary residence and employment permit from the Civil Registry and Migration Department.
Please do not hesitate to contact our firm’s immigration team if you have any questions/queries.