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Cyprus attracting investors eyeing secondary residency

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Despite the demise of its golden passport scheme, Cyprus is still high in the preference of foreign investors looking for a secondary residence.

According to Henley and Partners ‘Best Investment Migration, Real Estate Index’ Cyprus ranks eighth among the preferences of foreign investors looking for residency or citizenship.

The Index is an analytical tool created by Henley to assist global citizens and investors considering real estate-linked investment migration options with making strategic choices about where best to live, study, work, invest, and retire.

The United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, took the top spot in the latest version of the global real estate index.

The UAE led the Index with 82 points, followed by Spain (80.7), Montenegro (77.2), Turkey (76.5) and Portugal (75.8). Thailand, Greece, Grenada, Cyprus, and Dominica completed the top ten list.

Cyprus scored 72.1 on the Index.

UAE scored highly for “rental income potential, and the price of property per square metre is lower than other major international centres,” Henley & Partners said in a statement.

In its report accompanying the Index, the firm saw an 80% increase in enquiries over the past 12 months off the back of an already record-breaking 2020, with investors looking to diversify their domiciles.

Henley’s Index considers 30 parameters and 300 data points to score and compare citizenship and residency schemes, such as the quality of life, GDP, minimum real estate investment amount, potential rental income, and property costs.

In November 2020, the Mediterranean island dropped its passport scheme after Al Jazeera aired a documentary showing reporters posing as fixers for a Chinese businessman seeking a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

Parliament speaker Demetris Syllouris and an opposition MP were secretly filmed allegedly trying to facilitate a passport for the fugitive investor.

They later resigned, although both insisted they were innocent of any wrongdoing.

Al Jazeera reported that dozens of those who applied were under criminal investigation, international sanctions or even serving prison sentences.

A public inquiry found the government broke the law countless times to grant citizenship to over 6,700 people from 2007 to 2020.

The damning report said that over half (53%) of the 6,779 passports granted were done so illegally, encouraged by a due diligence vacuum or insufficient background checks.

Cyprus’ passport scheme generated over €7 bln during its lifespan from 2007.

Cyprus runs a golden visa scheme offering residence permits to applicants from non-European countries who intend to invest in the republic.

The investor must purchase new immovable property of a total market value of at least €300,000 plus VAT.

Alternatively, the investor could purchase up to two new or used immovable non-residential properties (offices, shops, hotels, or other developments) of a market value of at least €300,000 plus VAT.

Another option is share capital of €300,000 of a company registered and operating in Cyprus, which employs at least five people, or purchase units of €300,000 from a collective investment scheme listed with the Cyprus Investment Funds Association.

The applicant must also provide supporting evidence of a secured annual income of at least €30,000 deriving from abroad.

This income must increase by €5,000 for the spouse and every additional child and €8,000 for each dependent parent.

The income may include, for example, salaries from employment, rents, pensions, and dividends from shares.