Tag: cyprus

How to get Residency or Citizenship in Europe through Investment

January 14th, 2017   •   Passport, Residency   •   Comments Off on How to get Residency or Citizenship in Europe through Investment   

The new golden visa programmes in Europe have made it possible to get residency and citizenship through investment in real estate. Countries such as Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta now offer this attractive benefit to high net worth invdividuals who invest in property in these countries.

We have highlighted below a brief description of the opportunity in each country along with the basic requirements such as how much to invest. However, for a full understanding of these options please contact one of our consultants.

Cyprus

Cyprus offers two programmes, one for permanent residency and one for citizenship. The residency programme requires an investment of €300,000 in real estate. For citizenship and an immediate second passport investment of €2 million is required. Both programmes are flexible for family qualification allowing parents, grand parents and children to qualify.

Read More: How to apply for residency and citizenship in Cyprus.

Portugal

Portugal offers a residency scheme through investment of €500,000 into real estate. This programme grants temporary residence to the investor and their family providing the investment is maintained and renewed every two years. After five years applicants can then apply for permanent residence and after six years for citizenship and a passport.

Read More: How to apply for residency and citizenship in Portugal.

Spain

The Spanish golden visa programme requires investment of €500,000 into property. Applications are processsed quickly and residency can be gained in a matter of months. For citizenship investors and their families need to live in Spain for a minimum of 10 years.

Read More: How to apply for residency and citizenship in Spain.

Greece

The cheapest residency investment programme currently available in Europe is that of Greece, requiring investment of just €250,000 in real estate. Flexible rules apply for full family qualification across three generations.

Read More: How to apply for residency and citizenship in Greece.

Malta

Malta is unique in requiring investment in property and further investment contribution in the form of a government donation. However citizenship and a second European passport is on offer to those investing and waiting the 12 months or so it takes to obtain full citizenship.

Read More: How to apply for residency and citizenship in Malta.

 

Other countries have residency and citizenship investment programmes that are not directly linked to real estate. Contact us for further details on how to apply for and buy permanent residency and citizenship through investment in the UK, USA, Bulgaria, Hungary, Dominica, St Kitts, Grenada, St Lucia and Antigua.

 

Programme Review and New Year Developments

December 13th, 2016   •   Real Estate, Residency   •   Comments Off on Programme Review and New Year Developments   

This year 2016 has proven to be a further step on the ever developing market for investor visa programmes. Demand is increasing for most schemes, many programmes have changed and further amendments are expected in 2017.

We have highlighted below some of the key developments in 2016 and expectations of change in the year ahead.

Portugal

The delays in SEF in processing golden visa applications in mid 2015 led to a drop in numbers. However a new fast track procedure introduced earlier this year has put applications back on track. The number of approved applications in 2016 looks set to be the highest ever running at over 2000 investors per annum. The introduction of a €350,000 limit for renovation projects is taking time to produce the necessary supply. Such projects are complicated and need to be fully managed. La Vida has sourced some interesting options for clients and we will see more of these in 2017. The property market is gaining strength in Portugal with price rises over the last three years now fuelling growth and demand. Developers are reluctant to offer discounts and the best properties are sold long before completion.

Cyprus

There were some key changes introduced in 2016 to the Cyprus citizenship and residency programmes.

The qualifying real estate investment level for citizenship was reduced from €2.5 million to €2.0 million. The timescale for achieving the pasport increased to six months as it is now necessary to hold residency (but not necessary to live in Cyprus) before being issued a passport. It still remains the fastest route to EU citizenship.

The residency programme was amended to include parents. Three generations can now be included for an investment of just €300,000 in real estate. A key benefit is that this is for Permanent Residency (PR).

Changes for 2017 could see Cyprus becoming part of the EU Schengen zone. Anyone obtaining the Permanent Residency before that point will no doubt retain it should Cyprus enter Schengen. The EU has not allowed any Schengen country to issue Permanent Residency immediately on investment. Should Schengen happen then we can expect some changes to the programme. Investors may be wise to act sooner to grab the benefits on offer.

The economy in Cyprus may well see a further boost in 2017 with the discovery of huge natural gas resources off the coastline and the development of its first casino under the Hard Rock brand.

Hungary

Political developments in Hungary could well see the end of the residency bond visa programme in 2017. It has been possible to obtain residency in Hungary through a €300,000 investment in government residency bonds. However Hungary’s nationalist opposition party Jobbik is seeking an end to the programme in return for its support on other matters. Parliament closes this week so unless change happens in the next few days we can expect no further developments until at least February 2017. Still time for any investor to get their application in ahead of any changes.

St. Lucia

We can expect changes in 2017 to the recently launched citizenship programme in St. Lucia. The scheme has been in operation less than 12 months but there is a new government in place and new ideas and our conversations with those close to the programme suggest a more coordinated and consolidated programme will be launched in 2017.

Cyprus Citizenship with Reduced Investment

October 12th, 2016   •   Citizenship, Investor Visa, Real Estate   •   Comments Off on Cyprus Citizenship with Reduced Investment   

Citizenship by investment in EuropeCyprus has reduced the investment level required to gain citizenship from €2.5 million to €2 million. The recent move means EU citizenship can now be obtained in just 3 months with a Cypriot passport being issued soon after the investment is made by the applicant in real estate in Cyprus.

The recent move approved by the Cypriot parliament has also introduce further positive measures for applicants. It is no longer necessary to be part of a collective of five investors to obtain the lower investment limit. Parents of the applicant can also now qualify for citizenship provided they make an investment of €500,000 into real estate. This extends the Cypriot citizenship to three generations which includes children up to the age of 28.

The benefit to Cypriot citizenship is that the country is a full member of the European Union. Anyone holding Cypriot citizenship is an EU citizen and has the right to work, live, travel or study anywhere in the European Union, including the UK.

La Vida has processed a number of property investments in Cyprus in the last two years and we expect a boost following the recent reduction in the investment limit. We have also seen a surge in interest following the announcement of the UK to leave the EU. We expect this to result in increased applicants for Cyprus citizenship in the coming months as investors rush to beat any deadline from the UK imposed on EU citizens looking to settle into the country.

UK Residency by Investment post Brexit

June 28th, 2016   •   Immigration, Investor Visa, Residency   •   Comments Off on UK Residency by Investment post Brexit   

UK votes to leave the EUBrexit Vote

On the 23 June 2016 the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. So how does this affect immigration investment programmes in Europe that can lead to residency in the United Kingdom?

Current Situation

European Union citizens are free to travel, work and live in any other EU country. This means for countries such as Cyprus and Malta who issue citizenship and second passports through investment, that any investor in these programmes who gains a passport of that country, is free to live anywhere in the EU, including the UK.

Situation Post Brexit

It is important to understand at this point that the UK has not left the EU. The UK population has voted 52% to 48% to leave. But the referendum result is not legally binding and it is now down to the UK Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the European Union. Once invoked this starts a two year process for the UK to leave the European Union. David Cameron the current UK Prime Minister has gracefully passed this task on to his successor, whoever that may be.

The degree of Euro sceptism among potential candidates for Prime Minister varies with talk of potentially re-negotiating Britain’s position within the EU or maintaining many of the benefits and restraints within a new deal. Writing this just a few days after the referendum there seem to be many ways this could now play out, and varying timescales as to when it will eventually be resolved.

But let’s for the moment assume that the UK does invoke Article 50 and the UK leaves the EU.

Free Movement

One of the key principles of the European Union is the free movement of people. And that is the key question that concerns us when it comes to residency or citizenship by investment in any of the other EU countries. All EU members have to abide by this. In addition other countries gaining access to the single market such as Norway are also required to comply.

Until Article 50 is invoked and for the two year period afterwards then the UK remains part of the EU. This means that for the next two years, nothing will change. Any EU citizen can live in the UK or anywhere else in the EU.

Post EU Exit

For those EU nationals already living in the UK at the time of the UK leaving the EU (2018 possibly 2019) we suspect the chances of being allowed to remain are very high.

There are 3 million EU nationals living in the UK currently and 1 million UK nationals living elsewhere in the European Union. We expect an undignified 3 for 1 swap across the English Channel is unlikely. We also believe that there will be no distinction between those who entered post referendum or even post Article 50.

The reason being that such residents entered the UK completely legally under rules and laws at the time. Not only would it be difficult for a government to send back or “deport” such residents we expect it would not be in the government’s interests to enter into any political row with it’s European neighbours.

UK Residency

Our advice to anyone seeking UK residency through investment in the EU is to act now. Gaining residency in the UK directly through investment under the Tier 1 programme is virtually impossible in the current climate. Residency through a EU passport, as explained above, is the only viable option and one that is likely to remain an option for the next two years. The only countries through which an EU passport can be gained by investment within this timescale are Malta and Cyprus.

The earlier such investment is made, the earlier UK residency can be undertaken and the more likely it is that such residency will not be affected upon the UK leaving the EU.

European Countries – Real Estate Golden Visas

June 23rd, 2016   •   Real Estate, Residency   •   Comments Off on European Countries – Real Estate Golden Visas   

Despite popular belief there are very few European countries that offer residency through investment in real estate. These programmes guarantee the investor residency provided they meet some straightforward criteria. In some countries residency may progress to citizenship (Portugal, Spain, Greece) and in the case of Cyprus then citizenship by investment in real estate is immediate.

The countries offering this are Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and to some extent Malta, although further conditions are attached in addition to the purchase of property.

European countries without such golden visa programme for real estate include Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Many European governments do offer residency through investment but that investment tends to be aimed at entrepreneurs aiming to create business and jobs in the country. Often there is an application process involving interviews and a consideration of business plans. In this sense the outcome is not guaranteed.

 

Investing for Residency and Citizenship in Cyprus

March 30th, 2016   •   Cyprus, Property, Real Estate   •   Comments Off on Investing for Residency and Citizenship in Cyprus   

Investors who invest in Cyprus real estate can gain residency or citizenship depending on the level of investment:

  1. Residency : €300,000
  2. Citizenship €2.5 million (via our collective programme, else €5.0 million)

A key factor for many investors in addition to the residency visa and passport is the return on investment (ROI).
There are two factors affecting a property’s ROI and its profitability:
• Rental income
• Capital appreciation

Rental Income

They are two types of rental.
Long term rental – is for a period of one year and more. This rental is used by Cypriots and foreigners permanently working in Cyprus. Proximity to the sea for this type of lease – is not necessary. There are disadvantages of such proximity – high humidity, the tourist noise.
Short-term rental – is for the period from several days to several weeks. It is for holidaymakers and an alternative to accommodation in hotels. Property for such rental should be located close to the sea and have swimming pool.

Yields on long-term leases are around 4% per annum. Short-term rental yields are slightly more – about 5.0%-5.5%. However, in case of short-term lease some renovation should be made from time to time.

Capital Appreciation

Capital appreciation on real estate is a factor that ultimately provides investors with greater profitability potential.
The prices in the Cyprus real estate market will grow in the medium and long-term perspective. Our optimism has solid foundation based on key economic factors. Briefly the drivers of market growth are:

1. The growth of the whole Cyprus economy. According to IMF forecasts, the Cyprus economy will grow in 2016 by 1.4%. The European Commission estimates the Cyprus GDP growth rate – 1.5% in this year and 2% in 2017.

2. Start of industrial extraction of natural gas in 2019. Large offshore gas deposits have recently been discovered in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus. The value amounts to 300%-3000% of GDP. Naturally, the gas production will boost the island’s economy. In addition, new industry will require relocating to Cyprus many foreign workers and that will push up property prices.

3. Construction of the first casino resort is set to increase the number of rich tourists up to 1.0 million a year. This will add to 2.6 million tourists currently visiting the island every year. The casino resort is planned to be the largest in Europe. The growth of tourism will increase demand for rental property and hence the price of that real estate.

4. Reduction of property taxes:
• Capital Gains Tax. Capital Gains Tax on property purchased during the period between July 16, 2015 and December 31, 2016 and sold anytime in future for a bigger price, will not be charged
• Transfer Fee. Transfer Fee for property subject to VAT payment is not charged. For a property that is VAT exempt and is purchased before 31 December 2016 Transfer Fee rate is reduced by 50%.
• VAT. When property is purchased, a reduced VAT rate amounting to 5% (subject to a number of simple conditions) will be charged instead of the current rate of 19%.

5. Non-domicile tax residents of Cyprus are exempt from paying taxes on dividends and interest on deposits, earned in Cyprus and around the world. This means that foreigners who have moved to Cyprus, do not pay taxes on the dividends earned somewhere else (the rule is valid for 17 years after the move). It is expected that many wealthy foreigners will take advantage of this opportunity. They will need premium class properties for living, rising demand and prices in this real estate segment.

Selecting Real Estate

The following are our recommendations and approach for finding properties for our clients with the greatest growth potential.
1. Property must be new, not resale. Real estate, which was built in Cyprus in large quantities, say, 10 years ago, was designed for the British – then the main buyers of Cyprus property. Unfortunately, their low requirements thoroughly spoiled that property. For a number of reasons (for example, due to the fact that houses/apartments were considered only as holidays homes), the British did not mind that properties had no heating systems and proper insulation, and the internal and external design was primitive. Currently, such Real estate is obsolete and is not in demand, despite of falling prices.

2. Property must have high specifications of construction and finishing. There must be high ceilings, efficient heating systems, expensive flooring, tiles, sanitary and kitchen ware. Real estate should look stylish and modern. Such property can be sold in future with good profit.

3. We recommend to buy in the premium segment of the market. Generally, the Cyprus property market is shifting towards more expensive housing. This is evidenced by the dynamics of sales. In recent years, sales of expensive property have been increased, while economy class property stagnates.

4. If an investor buys a property at the initial stage of construction, he/she can expect a good discount to the price. This provides a good capital appreciation.

5. Real estate on the first line to the beach in Limassol and other cities is characterized by permanently good demand. The demand is high while the supply is limited (only few plots of land on the first line in the cities are available). This pushes the prices on sea front properties up.

6. Properties in the tourist area of Limassol, located in walking distance to the sea, are very popular among foreign buyers. Their prices steadily grow. First of all, this applies to large 3 and 4 bedroom apartments.

7. There are several prestigious hills in the nearest suburbs of Limassol. Buying a luxury villa on one of these hills – is a good investment for an applicant for passport.

8. Properties on golf resorts have good prospects. Not any golf property, but having certain specific characteristics. For example, the panoramic unobstructed sea views. Such properties are often sold before their construction is even started.

9. The growth of the culture of the Cyprus construction industry, combined with the increased requirements of buyers have led to the emergence of properties with unique (for Cyprus) and advanced (for the world) architectural solutions. These properties will give a high profitability due to its fashionable image. And also due to the fact that the time of design, obtaining of all necessary permissions and construction of such properties is so long, that they will never be in excess.

Estimations of ROI (Return on Property Investment)

Let’s now estimate the possible figures of ROI, which can be received from the Cyprus property recommended above. The total profitability is a sum of Rental income and Capital appreciation.

• The average annual rate of long-term rent in Cyprus is 4%.
• Property market value will grow (according to conservative estimates) by 30% over the next 5 years, an average of 6% pa.

Together combined this gives an average return of 10% per annum.

Next Steps

Our assessment of the Cypriot property market is very positive over the coming years. However investors should be aware that in any market, property prices can vary, they can fall and they may not achieve the predicted forecasts.

Please contact us on 0044 207 060 1475 for a personal assessment with one of our Cyprus real estate consultants.

Europe Investment Guide

November 22nd, 2015   •   Citizenship, Investor Visa, Residency   •   Comments Off on Europe Investment Guide   

Several countries in Europe offer residency through investment in real estate. Some of these country programs may lead to citizenship and a European passport.

The key to these schemes, unlike traditional immigration programs is that the investor gains the right to travel and reside in the country without the requirement to live there and become tax resident.

Real Estate Investment Programs

Check our summary below for details on the five main programs in Europe that will lead to residency through real estate investment and follow the links to more detailed guides on each program.

Spain

Invest €500,00 in real estate. This gains residency in Spain for 5 years with renewals:

Read More: Golden Visa Spain

Portugal

Invest €500,00 in real estate. This gains residency in Portugal with the potential for citizenship and a second passport after six years, without the requirement to become resident.

Read More: Golden Visa Portugal

Cyprus

The ultimate program for those High Net Worth Individuals seeking quick citizenship and a European passport within three months.

Read More: Citizenship by Investment Cyprus

Malta

A lower cost option for citizenship in Europe for those prepared for a lengthier application process and willing to make a donation.

Read More: Citizenship by Investment Malta

Greece

The low cost option for residency in Europe. Invest just €250,000 in real estate. A Schengen country but future citizenship will only arise through 7 years of residency.

Read More: Investor Visa Greece

 

 

Cyprus Citizenship Program “Simple and Fast”

November 6th, 2015   •   Citizenship, Cyprus, Investor Visa   •   Comments Off on Cyprus Citizenship Program “Simple and Fast”   

The investment immigration program in Cyprus has proven to be the most popular route for High Net Worth investors seeking a second passport in Europe. Since inception the investment programme has boosted the
economy by over €2 billion, according to Minister of Interior, Socrates Hasikos.

The Cyprus program offers full EU citizenship and a second passport to an investor and his or her family (including dependents up to age 28) within just 90 days and with no residency requirement currently. Although pressure from the EU may change this in the coming year. The scheme has a very high approval rate and the process and requirements are very straightforward. Unlike certain other programs in Europe such as Malta, the funds are invested, not donated, and Cyprus offers an exit strategy after just 3 years.

Cyprus Commerce Minister, Giorgos Lakkotrypis recently commented on the efficiency of the Cyprus citizenship program. “The process” he says. “Very simple.” Applicants fill out a three page form, invest €2.5 million in a villa, and pay €7,000 in fees. Then, as long as they’re able to produce a Certificate of Clean Criminal Record, “within 90 days, they can get their European passport.” “Within 90 days,” he repeats. “Lately, we even achieve 70 days. It’s a very fast and easy process and has very high approval rate.”

Rumours of changes to the program have circulated in recent months and change is expected in 2016 under pressure from the European Union for Cyprus to ensure applicants have greater ties with the island and potential residency requirements prior to approval of a passport. Such changes would not apply in retrospect to those investors who had already gained their passports.

Cyprus Capital Gains Tax Boost for Investors

July 10th, 2015   •   Cyprus, Investor Visa, Property, Real Estate, Taxation   •   Comments Off on Cyprus Capital Gains Tax Boost for Investors   

Applicants for the golden visa programme in Cyprus who are investing in real estate have received a boost following changes to the Capital Gains Tax law in Cyprus. Those acquiring a property in Cyprus before 31 December 2016 will avoid any capital gains tax on sale of the real estate irrespective of the date of sale of the asset.

The change is part of a package of measure introduced by the Cypriot government and enacted into law on 9 July 2015. A key change is the exemption from taxation for personal investment income for non-domiciled individuals who will no longer be subject to the Cyprus Special Defence Contribution (SDC) of 17% on dividends and 30% on interest.

Together with existing income tax exemptions this means that non-domiciled individuals will pay zero tax in Cyprus irrespective of whether the income is earned in Cyprus or abroad. The measures have been introduced to encourage high net worth investors to invest and reside in Cyprus.

Cyprus Citizenship Investment Programme

June 4th, 2015   •   Investment   •   no comments   

Success of Cyprus Investment for Citizenship Programme

The Cyprus economy has been seriously boosted by the residence and citizenship programmes according to an an announcement last week by Mr Socrates Hasikos, Interior Minister of Cyprus.

On the one hand, this is a great achievement, on the other – the economy has received enough funds (more than €2 billion) and the pressure from the European Union is becoming hard. In particular, the Minister said: “The Republic of Cyprus is under pressure to stop this policy ….”.

EU Pressure could lead to change

It is well known that the European Union has been exerting hard pressure on Cyprus to either stop or amend the criteria since this is the first time that a passport of a European member-state could be obtained on such favorable conditions. Similar pressure was applied to Malta which led to changes in its programme.

So far, Cyprus has not made any changes to the policy. Quite the contrary. It introduced a “Collective scheme” in March 2014, which allowed the required investment threshold to be halved from €5 million to €2.5 million.

In particular, a representative of the European Commission, Ms Jourova has recently commented:
“As regards national schemes for naturalization of investors (investor citizenship schemes), the Commission recalls that it is for each Member State to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of its nationality. As confirmed in settled case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU, when exercising their competence in the area of nationality, Member States must have due regard to Union law. “The Commission has stressed that it expects Member States to use their prerogatives to award citizenship in a spirit of sincere cooperation with the other Member States and the EU. Account should be taken of the norms and obligations by which they are bound under international law and the criteria upon which they traditionally build their nationality laws.

Genuine Links may be required in future

These criteria require in particular the existence of a genuine link between the applicant for naturalization and the country or its people. Investor citizenship schemes providing for the possibility to obtain naturalization in return for investment alone do not meet the minimum requirement of a genuine link to the country. “The Commission is analyzing investor citizenship schemes in all Member States concerned. At this stage, it appears that there is only one member state granting naturalization in return for investment alone, namely Cyprus. “The Commission is currently pursuing a dialogue with the Cypriot authorities on this issue.”

Investors need to act soon

We expect therefore that with time the programme can be amended and additional compulsory requirements to obtain Cyprus citizenship introduced as happened in Malta for instance.

The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme is currently the “Rolls Royce” of investor citizenship programmes in Europe. It is the only country through which it is possible to get an immediate (2-3 months) European passport by investment.  However it is not forever in its present form and potential applicants need to act soon to take advantage while the door remains open.

For those who would like to apply for Cyprus passport the time has come to act briskly and decisively. So far all the amenities of the programme are still available without any amendment. Passports are issued on a weekly basis to those who have already applied and thus enjoy very favorable conditions that Cyprus offers.

*****Update 14th July 2015*****

Further to the above we are now hearing through several sources that Cyprus, under pressure from the EU, will introduce a one year residency rule prior to granting citizenship. This is likely to be introduced at the end of 2015. Such an introduction will restrict certain investors if they have to spend time residing or building ties with the country prior to the issuing of a passport. It will not affect passports issued before that date.

For further information please contact us online or call our European head office on +44 207 060 1475.