Investments close to € 5 billion have brought the investors' naturalization plan since 2013, according to new figures released today by StockWatch.
Interior Ministry data released for the first time show that since 2011 Cyprus has granted 1319 passports to foreign investors through which it has invested € 4.8 billion in the country. Passports have increased significantly since 2013.
The current Ministry of Interior Investors' Nationalization Plan, as amended in September 2016, provides for € 2 million of investment in either real estate or Cypriot companies or alternative investment funds. There is also a provision for a combination of investments, including the purchase of sovereign bonds.
Holders of these investments are not entitled to disburse them until at least three years have elapsed since their purchase and the acquisition of a Cypriot passport.
More specifically, starting in 2011, the implementation of the project until 30 June 2017, 1319 foreign investors acquired Cypriot citizenship on the basis of plans to grant Cypriot citizenship against investments by non-Cypriot investors.
The investment figures generated by these projects are from 2013 when they began to be collected.
Evidence shows that the number of applicants has increased significantly over the last four years. In 2011, the number of foreigners who acquired Cypriot citizenship was only 30, in 2012 48, while in 2013 the number of foreigners stood at 55.
Since 2014, there has been a significant increase in the number of foreigners who have acquired Cypriot citizenship as they reached 210.
In 2015, the number increased even further and stood at 337 and in 2016 at 426.
In the first half of 2017, 213 foreign nationals were granted Cypriot citizenship.
Among the key criteria is that applications are assessed to confirm that the firms or companies in which investments are proven have a physical presence in Cyprus with substantial activity and significant turnover and employ at least five Cypriot citizens or citizens of the European Union.
It also needs a white criminal record.
The special naturalization program has given a significant boost to the real estate market, especially luxury housing. It is no coincidence that the price of several homes in luxury projects, such as the under-construction towers in Limassol and elsewhere, the purchase price of apartments starts at € 2 million.
Despite its benefits to the Cypriot economy, the naturalization program has been criticized by foreign media for the reaction of the Cypriot authorities.
The Cypriot government claims that passports are handled sparingly and that they are minimal in relation to all naturalization in the EU.
Other countries, such as Malta, also offer investor-typing programs.