Cyprus will not restart the citizenship programme for investment

November 17, 2020
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The Cyprus citizenship programme is closed
Photo: Adobe Stock
The Government of Cyprus has closed the citizenship programme for investment. This was announced by the Minister of Interior Nikos Nouris.

The Programme Department completed the acceptance of citizenship programme applications for investments on 1 November 2020. The documents of 691 investors and 722 family members who managed to participate in the programme before its closing are currently under consideration. All applications will be reviewed in the coming months.

Why Cyprus has closed its citizenship programme for investment

On 13 October 2020, the Government of Cyprus suspended the citizenship programme for investment due to a breach of procedures.

The Qatar TV company Al-Jazeera has produced several materials on violations of the procedures of the Cyprus citizenship programme.

Journalists said that Cyprus issued passports to people with a criminal record or who are prosecuted for financial crimes. And the programme department accepted applications with false information about an investor’s sources of income. The television company also posted a video which confirms the involvement of senior Cypriot government officials in the violations.

We talked about Al Jazeera’s publications in the material “Cyprus Suspends Citizenship Programme from 1 November 2020: Causes and Possible Consequences”.

In response to the allegations, Cyprus suspended the citizenship programme and set up a special commission to investigate violations. As a result of the inspection, the government decided to revoke 7 passports. The commission plans to inspect all investors who have received Cyprus passports for investments since 2007 – about 6500 people excluding family members.

The European Commission has responded to violations with an official warning. This triggered an investigation procedure regarding the Cyprus programme.

The government must respond to the warning by an official letter by 6 December 2020. If the European Commission finds the reply unsatisfactory, it will have the right to issue a reasoned opinion and demand that Cyprus comply with EU law.

The possible consequences of the litigation and the damage to the country’s reputation have forced the Cypriot government to close the citizenship programme definitively for investment.

In which other EU countries is it possible to obtain citizenship for investments

Malta is preparing to restart its citizenship programme for investment in the near future. Once restarted, the country will be the only EU member state where citizenship through the investment programme can be obtained.

Malta also received a warning from the European Commission in October 2020. But the Government believes that it has the right to decide for itself who and under what conditions to grant citizenship. Revenues from the programme allow for the implementation of social projects and support for the economy in times of crisis. We explained this in the material “The Government of Malta responded to the EU warning to review the citizenship programme for investment”.

The Government of Malta is not prepared to give up its citizenship investment programme, despite criticism from the European Union. But the government has listened to the recommendations when developing the new version of the programme. For example, under the new conditions, it will only be possible to obtain a passport after 3 years. Before that, the investor needs to apply for and maintain the residence permit status.

We have described all the upcoming changes in the material “Restart of the Malta Citizenship Programme for Investment in September 2020”.

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