CYPRUS: Jurisdiction Expedites Examination of Pending Citizenship-by-Investment Applications.

As published on schengenvisainfo.com, Monday 6 April, 2020.

The Cypriot government has decided to speed up the processing of several ending applications for citizenship-by-investment amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

The decision for the expedition of the processing of these applications has been listed alongside with the raft of fiscal and other measures introduced under the intention to keep businesses afloat and pump some liquidity into the market which has been widely affected by the pandemic.

In spite of a recent decision of the government to strip 29 foreign investors of the Cypriot citizenship, this provision was listed alongside 27 other state emergency measures taken to combat the Coronavirus’ financial impact.

In particular, the government called for the examination process of applications for exceptional naturalization on the basis of the Cyprus Investment Program – in accordance with set provisions and criteria – to be expedited.

In November last year, the government of Cyprus had decided to revoke citizenship for 26 investors that received their EU-Cyprus passports through the Citizenship by Investment program. The move was undertaken in an attempt to contain the risks coming from unvetted foreign investment, upon another announcement of the government that it had applied for Schengen membership.

The Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides, said at the time that nine of the investors are Russian, eight Cambodians, and five Chinese, while the rest were from Malaysia, Kenya, and Iran.

A report of the EU Commission published in January 2019, identified the risks coming from Golden Visa and Residency Programs run by the EU countries, including the one Cyprus operates. Some of the main risks identified were money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption. The report, among others, outlined the steps that the EU countries should take in order to address these risks.

Upon the publication of the report, Cyprus moved on a month later approving several changes to its Citizenship-by-Investment programme, in accordance with the EU guidelines, including stricter criteria for applicants, background checks by a specialized foreign firm, and immediate rejection of applicants that have already been rejected from any other EU member.

Cyprus, alongside Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are the only EU but non-Schengen countries. The latter three have completed the five-stage evaluation process and are now waiting for admission.

The island country of Cyprus, which has been part of the European Union since May 2004, has been unable to join the Schengen area so far, due to its territorial division, upon a coup attempt took place in the country in 1974.