Many non-EU citizens, who often travel to Europe, believe that obtaining a tourist visa is a sure and fast process. In reality, such individuals find themselves unlucky, as many tourist visa applications get rejected or bogged down in red tape and endless requests for additional documents…
The protagonists of this Case found themselves exactly in this kind of bureaucratic predicament, their applications delayed and travel plans ruined.
- Alexey, 44, an executive at the helm of a large Russian holding with an international reach.
- Alla, 42, Alexey’s wife, an experienced executive and currently a stay-at-home mother.
- Marina, 14, their daughter.
Alexey is living mostly in the UK and Germany. Currently he spends a lot of his time in the USA, where his daughter Marina studies in a private school. The family is still deciding about their future place of residence, after Marina finishes her school and starts university.
Alexey and Alla travel a lot and frequently need to enter different countries for short periods of time. Sometimes, it is really not convenient for them to apply for new visas each time. In fact, some of their tourist visa applications have already been denied. And often if not denied at all, the visas would arrive later than planned, in both cases complicating or ruining the family’s tourism and business travel plans. Moreover, EU tourist visas restrict visits to the European countries to 90 out each 180 days in a year.
The family planned that Marina would continue her education in the UK. They completed all the formalities for obtaining a student visa for their daughter. But due to the usual bureaucratic delays, the UK authorities issued Marina’s student visa too late, 2 months after the beginning of the school year. Thus, Marina had to begin her study in a different country, which was unplanned by the family.
Goals and Objectives
To avoid these kinds of problems, the couple decided to exchange their Russian citizenship for the one of a European country. The citizenship of European country would give the family unrestricted movement throughout the Schengen treaty area, without any additional visas, as well as ease their travel to other countries around the world.
Among the possible solutions, Alexey considered the option of obtaining a Maltese citizenship. As both an EU member state and a part of the Commonwealth, Malta gives its nationals freedom to travel throughout the European continent as well as to the UK (among many other destinations). The latter aspect was very important for the business needs of our Client.
The Best Option
At the moment, there are only two countries in Europe that are offering attractive citizenship-by-investment programs: one is Malta (Malta Individual Investor Programme) and the other one is Cyprus (Сyprus Investment Programme). The client considered Malta first, but since Maltese Programme stipulates significant non-refundable contribution, the client decided to participate in Cyprus Investment Programme (this Programme provides different investment options).
Our experts explained to the couple the investment options and they liked the idea of investing in real estate in Cyprus. Alexey understood the general unpredictability of this region’s real estate market in the future. As a prospective investor, Alexey needed to have a clear idea of the future potential of his real estate on the island. According to the conditions of the Cyprus citizenship program, the investor must hold the investment object for at least three years, before being able to sell it on. As for our Clients, they were planning on keeping at least one of the prospective investment properties (worth at least EUR 500,000) for their own use.
Meanwhile, Alla found an internet offer of a Cypriot real estate company, proposing a buyback option within 3 years on the real estate properties they sold. Based on our experience, we found this offer quite unusual, bordering on improbable. To be certain, we contacted this company and received their sample contract. Having closely reviewed it, we discovered that in reality the company did not offer any guarantee of a buyback, but merely presented it as an option, that might be eventually exercised at the company’s discretion. More precisely, the sample contract specified that, if willing, the company might (just as they might not) buy out the real estate property or share owned by the client. Thus, with our legal support, Alla and Alexey decided in favour of purchasing a residential property in Cyprus on the free market.
We agreed with our Client to accompany them in Cyprus during their 4-day business trip. Previously we discussed with Alexey and Alla the desired criteria for their perfect property. After three days of looking at villas and apartments, townhouses and penthouses in Paphos and Limassol, we made a pre-selection list of various properties in closed residential complexes with a private pool, concierge services and a gym.
The family eventually settled on a townhouse worth EUR 750,000, for their own use. This property would be subject to an additional 14% VAT refund. The remaining investment would be placed in properties managed by a building-developer-company that would rent them out for profit.
Depending on market situation in three years’ time, Alexey and Alla would decide how to proceed with their investment objects (whether to sell the rental properties or to continue owning and renting them out). The estimated income from the family’s investments would amount to 3-4% per annum.
Buying the Properties and Naturalisation
Over the next two weeks, we drafted and arranged the signing of real estate reservation and then purchase agreements. Alla was listed as the Main Applicant of the Cyprus Investment Programme.
After that, Alla and Alexey travelled to Nicosia for one day, to submit their biometric data at the migration service. At the same time, our lawyer filed the client documents for the residence permit of Cyprus. A week later, the residence permit cards were ready, and we sent them to the couple.
Our Clients decided that their daughter Marina will continue her education at one of the American schools in Cyprus. The school has a decent standing in the international ratings, so the couple was satisfied as to the quality of their daughter’s future education. And no doubt, living and studying closer to her family would have a positive impact on their child’s psychological well-being. Both grandparents of Marina would also be able to visit and stay with the family on Cyprus, whereas previously visiting the granddaughter in the USA was made difficult by the length of travel and the language barrier. Whereas visiting Cyprus from Russia is not so demanding on the elderly people, in terms of both the length of travel, and also because around 30% of Limassol population are Russian-speakers.
Marina and her mother travelled to Cyprus, where the girl was successfully accepted at her new school. After that, our lawyer prepared all the necessary papers to obtain a residency permit for Marina as well. Just one week later, her residency card was ready and she started at the new school.
The issue of visas for business trips was gone forever. Additionally, the whole family could now easily visit their family and friends all over the world. The family made a series of successful investment in real estate, with a prospective annual profit. Marina received a place at a good, and conveniently located, international school, and will continue her studies on to one of the top UK universities. Our Clients moved into a lovely townhouse in Cyprus and can enjoy the health benefits on living and leisure on the Mediterranean coast.
Cyprus citizenship provides businessmen and travelers with the access to 158 countries. Therefore, obtaining the citizenship of Cyprus is certainly effective solution for visa-free travel around the world. If you want to apply for participation in this program, please contact us via Contact Form on our website, or get in touch with one of our offices nearest to you!