InsiderEconomyPassports to be linked with Shengen visas

Passports to be linked with Shengen visas

Cyprus will have a hotline with other European countries regarding foreign investors who apply for Cypriot citizenship, according to daily Phileleftheros.

This is part of further changes promoted by the government in the Citizenship by Investment Scheme in a bid to stop strong criticism by the European Commission. In addition, an investor applying for a Cypriot citizenship will be required to also submit his/her Shengen visa since this would prove that the application was not rejected by any other EU country.

The Commission wants the Scheme’s provisions to become more stringent because investors, in addition to Cypriot citizenship, also automatically obtain European citizenship. Although the text with the changes to the Citizenship by Investment Scheme is not yet in its final form, it is certain that there will be provisions for rigorous investor controls about which the European Commission will be fully updated.

In addition, all applicants will pass due diligence tests by an international specialised company as well. Also, the changes will include an increase in the amount of investment. In particular, applicants will have to make investments of €2.5 million instead of the current €2 million.  In parallel, related town planning permits will be required six months before the application is submitted. Additionally, they will need to secure a temporary residence permit for six months.

Moreover, all applications from prospective investors should be accompanied by real estate valuations made by licensed property valuers.

Another important addition to the Scheme is the provision to divert part of the investment for the benefit of the community. Special funds will be created to which €150,000 will be directed from each investment. Out of this, €100,000 will go to the island’s Research and Innovation Fund. The remaining €50,000 will be transferred to a housing construction fund for vulnerable groups of citizens. One of the thoughts is for the money to be managed by the Cyprus Land Development Organisation.

Changes are also expected in the code of conduct that must be followed by agents providing naturalisation services. It is contemplated that violation of the code will be a criminal offence. Land developers, members of the Large Investments Association and CIPA yesterday scrutinised the draft text with the proposed changes.

Next week the parties will have a new meeting with Finance Minister Harris Georgiades during which they will present their positions. The government’s effort is for the final text to be agreed with all stakeholders before it is referred to the Cabinet.

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