Category Archives: Immigration

Get the Right Advice from an EB-5 Immigration Attorney

In 1990, the Congress initiated the EB5 green card program. The objective was to add more jobs to the United States market which in turn would help boost the economy. This program was first implemented in the year 1992 and since that time, it has been reauthorized as well. This particular visa is granted to individuals that want to invest in commercial enterprises in America and are able to create a minimum of 10 jobs via this investment. This program is beneficial not just to immigrants, but to US citizens too.

How to get an EB-5 Green Card

Careful planning and a significant amount of investment required for this visa, because you will be launching a commercial venture on foreign land. It’s important that you be aware of all the conditions and laws related to this visa before you actually make any investment.

The best course of action would be to consult with an experienced EB-5 Immigration Attorney.This professional will help you understand the entire process and follow the right procedures, which increases your chances of being granted this visa. Some things to keep in view are:

• Eligibility – There are very specific and stringent measures in place. Even if you are willing to make the investment and launch a business in the US, you would have to provide 100% disclosure of your financial situation. Once you get accreditation, you can then invest in the commercial enterprise of your choice.

You have the option to either start your own venture or invest in a business owned by someone else. The business you are invested in should operate within the framework of US laws. You would also have to create 10, full-time, permanent jobs for employees in the US and your direct investment should be $1,000,000 or above.

• Investment Options – The EB-5 Immigration Attorney you consult will provide you solutions and advice based on your circumstances, budget, and preferences. Most experienced immigration attorneys have a list of good investment opportunities for immigrants that are seeking an EB-5 visa.

You have the option to look for investment opportunities on your own as well. Put in some time and energy into investigating various business opportunities before you invest in any venture.

There are a number of benefits to opting for an EB-5 visa but it’s important that you get the right advice from an expert professional. Once you get this visa, you will enjoy all the benefits and rights that a US resident enjoys. You also get the freedom to work anywhere within the US as well as acquire US citizenship for five years.

Hiring the services of an EB-5 immigration attorney will smooth the path and improve your chances of getting this visa and realizing your dream of living in the US and setting up a business there. Aside from meeting the eligibility criteria, getting the paperwork right is very important and a good attorney will help you with all these different aspects.

Immigration – Indian Business and Employment Law Updates

In a world that is characterized by globalization and a constant mobility of people across borders, countries are re-defining policies and enhancing compliance initiatives.

India has over the past few years seen a healthy surge in foreign nationals coming to India on employment visas. The Government of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs deals with all matters relating to visa, immigration, citizenship, overseas citizenship of India, acceptance of foreign contribution as well as hospitality. This article elucidates certain important, recent changes pertaining to foreign nationals in India as well as Indian origin foreign nationals.

Mandatory Reporting of Foreign National’s Stay

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has vide notification dated March 18, 2016[1] made it mandatory to report the stay of foreign nationals on the premises by a landlord.  This has been a requirement for several years but has not been enforced strictly prior to this.

Foreign nationals in India are under heightened scrutiny regarding their entry and stay in the country. Thus, the MHA has emphasized the mandatory requirement for hotel, guest houses, hostels, and private homes among others, to report the arrival and stay of any foreign national, within 24 hours of arrival at their premises. Rented accommodation falls within the ambit of ‘hotel’ specified under this notification. An online application in this regard has been made applicable. This reporting requirement is separate from the police verification that needs to be completed prior to registering at an FRRO/FRO or applying for a visa extension at an FRRO/ FRO.

Landlords also must register online and then generate Form C for each of its foreign national tenants.  To limit the liability of the landlord it is imperative that they also report the departure of any foreign national from their premises and the foreign national is required to sign the Annexure to the Order Form.

It is imperative for foreign nationals to register with the FRRO/FRO concerned having jurisdiction over the place where he or she intends to stay within 14 days of arrival when they are visiting India long term (more than 180 days) on a Student Visa, Employment Visa, Research Visa or Medical Visa.  Pakistani nationals however must register with the concerned FRRO/FRO within 24 hours of their arrival.  Usually, the entity that sponsors the visa is required to submit an undertaking to the FRRO/FRO on behalf of the foreign national “to ensure good conduct of the foreign national during his/her stay in India.” No registration for minors below the age of 16 is required.

Reporting the Repatriation of Foreign National Employees

During the course of employment, in case the employer wants to withdraw the “undertaking for good conduct” the employer is required to visit the office in person along with the foreign national to report and record the withdrawal.  This is likely to happen when the employee has been found to violate some law or when the employee wishes to change his employer etc.

The MHA has published a notification making it mandatory for employers to report the termination and/or departure of all foreign nationals working in India. Please note that this applies to all foreign national employees whether they are required to register or not.

Investment Related Residence Rights

The Government of India has decided to woo foreign investors with permanent residency rights and to provide financial support to facilitate trade with South–East Asian countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar through the Export Import Bank of India to investors who bring a minimum of about USD 1.5 million in 18 months about USD 3.6 million in 36 months and generate at least 20 jobs every year[2].

The permanent residence status to foreign investors is expected to be for a period of 20 years. The foreign investor will be entitled to own one residential property and the spouse will be allowed to work or study here. This scheme will however not be made available to Pakistani or Chinese nationals.

An official statement issued states, “Permanent residence status will serve as a multiple entry visa without any stay stipulation and holders will be exempted from registration requirements. They will be allowed to purchase one residential property for dwelling purpose. Spouse and dependents will be allowed to take up employment in private sector (in relaxation to salary stipulations for employment visa) and undertake studies in India”. The statement further added that the fund will help to benefit domestic companies’ business expansion and grant access to cost competitive supply chains in addition to helping them integrate with global production networks.

Further, under current regulations most foreign nationals could qualify for naturalization as Indian citizens after staying in India for 12 years in qualifying long term status subject to certain criteria.

Expanded use of eVisas

With an eye to make Indian yoga and its age-old medicine system accessible to all nationals, the Government of India has decided to include ‘attending a short-term yoga programme’ to its existing list of permissible activities under Tourist and E-Tourist Visa[3].  The Government has also included ‘short duration medical treatment under Indian systems of medicine’ thus expanding the list of permissible activities for an E-Tourist Visa.

A foreign national may apply for a tourist visa for the purposes of recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives or attending a short-term yoga programme while a foreign national whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, attending a short-term yoga programme, short duration medical treatment including treatment under Indian Systems of medicine or casual business visit may apply for an E-Tourist Visa.

It is pertinent to note that the main difference between a Tourist Visa and an E-Tourist Visa is that while an E-Tourist Visa must be applied online minimum four days prior to the date of travel.  This visa is issued with a validity of a period of 30 days and may be used twice in a calendar year.  Whereas, a Tourist Visa has to be obtained from the concerned Indian Mission prior to arrival in India and the duration of stay differs on a case to case basis.

Grant of Citizenship Made Easier for Certain Pakistan Nationals

A proposal has been put forth to simplify the procedures to grant Indian citizenship to minority Hindus from Pakistan[4].  Under the proposal, such Pakistani nationals staying in India on a Long-Term Visa will be permitted to open bank accounts with prior RBI approval, subject to certain conditions, to buy property, obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Aadhar Number, will be given permission to take up self-employment or for doing business.

The Collectors or District Magistrates of the following 18 districts will be empowered to grant citizenship to such individuals at heavily discounted fees:

  • Raipur in Chhattisgarh;
  • Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Kutch and Patan in Gujarat;
  • Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh;
  • Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra;
  • West Delhi and South Delhi in The National Capital Territory;
  • Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur in Rajasthan; and
  • Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh

PIOs to OCIs

The Government of India issued a notification dated January 9, 2015 regarding the merger of the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) Schemes[5]. It stated that all existing PIO card holders registered as such under the new PIO card scheme of 2002 are expected to apply for an OCI card before December 31, 2016.

The deadline for the conversion of the cards has been extended several times since implementation of the scheme to give more time to PIO card holders to submit their applications for registration as an OCI card holder.  The previous deadline was June 30, 2016. 

Biometrics in London

The High Commission of India in London announced by way of a press release on August 5, 2016[6] that applicants for seven visa categories but not including business or tourist visas are required to register their bio-metric data effective August 19, 2016.

Individuals applying for any of the visas as set out below at the Indian Visa Application Centers in the U.K. will now be required to appear in person and submit bio-metrics – finger print data and facial photograph:

  • Employment Visa;
  • Journalist Visa;
  • Research Visa;
  • Student Visa;
  • Visit Visa (applicable only to Pakistani nationals);
  • Project Visa; and
  • Missionary Visa

It is pertinent to note that applicants under the age of 12 or over the age of 70 are exempt from the new biometric enrollment requirement.

It may thus be noted, that 2016 has seen a growth by 6.8% of foreign arrivals in India due to a series of initiatives taken by the government including the online visa facility which has now been extended to over 100 countries and other visa reforms whose impact is now being felt.

Disclaimer: The contents of this publication are not a comprehensive consideration of the subjects discussed and are designed to provide preliminary, general information.  Readers should not conclusively rely on the information as legal advice and should seek independent counsel before any action is taken with respect to these or other specific issues.

[1] (Accessed on November 20, 2016)

[2] (Accessed on November 21, 2016)

[3] (Accessed on November 21, 2016)

[4] (Accessed on November 20, 2016)

[5] (Accessed on November 20, 2016)

[6]  (Accessed on November 20, 2016)

What does Brexit Mean for Citizenship?

On June 23rd, it was announced that Britain will be leaving the European Union, and the country entered a period of uncertainty. Britain has been a member of the EU for over 43 years, following our acceptance into the politico-economic union in 1973; however, in 2016 Great Britain’s allegiance to the EU was no more. Since the departure was announced British citizens have started questioning how Brexit will affect their right to live and work in the UK.

The effect Brexit will have on citizenship will not be fully known until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered and the UK confirms formal negotiations of our exit. Theresa May is famously quoted as stating ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but that does not address the question, what does Brexit mean for Citizenship? In an interview conducted in July, the Prime Minister confirmed the situation of Europeans residing in the UK would be up for debate as part of the Brexit negotiations, causing significant concern for the three million EU citizens living in the UK today.

An Increase in Dual Citizenship

As a nation, Britain values its ability to move freely around Europe, and Brexit is likely to trigger many more individuals to consider the option of dual citizenship.

Five million people living in the UK have an Irish parent or grandparent and, as such, are currently eligible for an Irish passport.  Charles Flanagan, the Irish minister for foreign affairs stated that there has been a recent spike in interest for passports in Northern Ireland since Brexit was declared, and the multinational technology company Google has confirmed that the search term ‘move to Dublin’ has been entered with increasing frequency since the results were announced. Other countries that have reported a similar influx in requests for a second EU passport include Italy, Denmark and Sweden.

Those with Scottish parentage may also be thinking to the future and apply for dual citizenship. Scotland is currently a part of the wider United Kingdom, but with rumours of a second referendum rife, this may be subject to change. Many Scottish citizens value their countries’ membership within the EU, and gaining independence from the UK could mean they are able to maintain this.

Britons who have cultivated their businesses in the EU, and European business people who operate in Britain alike may be considering participating in a Citizenship by Investment programme in an alternate European country. EU countries that currently offer CIU programmes include Austria Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta, where an individual can obtain the right to live and work anywhere in the EU in exchange for a shrewd investment into government approved bonds or real-estate.

Changes for EU Citizens Residing in the UK

Brexit could also impinge on EU citizens’ rights to live and work in the UK which has left many with uncertainties for the future.

The concept of an ‘EU citizen’ was first established in 1993 and allows a person to move, reside and be involved in the politics of any countries within the European Union. It also allows the individual protection from EU diplomats in countries that are external from the EU. Now, with Brexit looming, this could mean citizenship being involuntarily revoked for thousands.

The lack of information released regarding what will happen in terms of citizenship is troubling, but some legal experts have taken a bold stance and declared there is ‘zero chance’ that EU citizens living in the UK today will be able to maintain their same rights post Brexit. There is a general consensus that the government must take steps now to negotiate specific laws for foreign-born citizens to stop their rights being disintegrated post Brexit.

Effects on Global Mobility

Brexit will undoubtedly influence global mobility. Experts have predicted that in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, global mobility will likely be on the rise. As international businesses ponder their next steps, they may well increase the number of staff they relocate to other offices elsewhere in the world. Similarly, if immigration administration post Brexit poses to much of a challenge, organisations may decide against expanding their business within the UK.

Following an initial rise, Brexit is likely to dramatically reduce global mobility. As the number of countries a British passport will allow visa-free entry to shrinks; people’s desire to travel and conduct business regularly throughout Europe is also likely to wane.

Trade partnerships may also be affected as relations between the UK and the rest of the EU have been made tenuous by Brexit. Countries that had previously been considering the UK as a viable trade partner may now be considering other options due to a reduction of foreign investment.

To conclude, there are currently too many unknowns to say with certainty what effect Brexit will have on citizenship, but we can make some accurate predictions. Within the two years’ post Article 50 being triggered, the Government should reveal some more accurate details about how these changes will affect EU citizens residing in the UK and how Brexit will have a knock-on effect on mobility across the globe.

An Exception to Swallow The Hague Convention Return Rule?

The 1980 Hague Convention Treaty regarding the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction (“Hague Convention”) is currently being threatened in the Unites States under a proposed new amendment to the United States’ version of the Hague Convention, which proposal would stop numerous returns of abducted children to their countries of habitual residence.

Any proposed new legislation which attempts to widen one of the exceptions to the rule that abducted children must be returned home is extremely concerning.  Expanding the exceptions to having to return abducted children to their home countries may so weaken the enforceability of the treaty, as to nearly stop the enforcement of the Hague Convention treaty in the United States.

By way of background, pursuant to the Hague Convention ( 42 U.S.C. 11601, et seq.), a left-behind parent whose child has been abducted by another parent and taken or retained in a contracting country may, through a Hague Convention proceeding, obtain an order returning the minor child to his/her country of habitual residence.

The text of the Hague Convention sets forth three clear requirements for the return of the minor child.  As a general summary, these are:

  1. That the child was a habitual resident of the state from which he/she was taken;
  1. That the child was wrongfully removed from the state by the abducting parent, meaning that the non-abducting parent had parental rights which he was actually exercising at the time of the abduction; and
  1. That the case does not fall into any exceptions.  These limited exceptions are:

    a. That the non-abducting parent was not actually exercising his custodial rights, or consented to the removal and/or retention of the child;

    b. “There is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation”; or

    c. That the Hague Convention proceedings were commenced more than one year from the date of abduction/retention.

Importantly, as set forth in Article 16 of The Hague Convention, a Hague Convention proceeding is per se, not a custody proceeding, and any request by either parent for a custody determination, such as to determine which parent should be the primary or sole custodial parent, is irrelevant to a Hague Convention matter:

“. . . [T]he judicial or administrative authorities of the contracting state to which the child had been removed or in which it has been retained shall not decide on the merits of rights of custody . . . [Emphasis added.]”

This directive is not only expressly stated in the text of The Hague Convention but has been repeatedly upheld in the United States and other courts hearing Hague Convention cases.  In Nunez-Escudero v. Tice-Menley, (1995) 58 F.3d 374, 8th Cir., for example, the court stated unequivocally:

“We instruct the court not to consider evidence relevant to custody or the best interests of the child.” Id. At 378.

Unfortunately, instead of following, the relatively simple dictate of the Hague Convention to return children to their countries of habitual residence rather than make a determination as to which parent a child is better of living with, Hague Convention Courts have often taken into consideration claims of domestic violence by abductors as an exception to the return rule.

However, this debate is not about leaving victims of domestic violence without protection, and attempting to justify this Amendment by focusing on victims of domestic violence is a “red herring”.  Indeed, a victim of domestic violence who abducts a child and loses a Hague Convention matter need not return to the previously violent relationship or to the previously shared home in the country of habitual residence. He/she has every right to protection from the other parent whom she/he claims is abusive, and to ask a court for custody based on the other parents’ behaviour-and all of this should take place in the home court, rather than stop the return of the child his/her country of habitual residence.

The focus of the “grave risk of harm” exception to the Article 13 exception to returning the children is on the children themselves rather than on their parents.  A victim of domestic violence will have the right to obtain all the benefits and protections of the legal system in the country of habitual residence including police assistance, obtaining restraining orders, and the like. If he or she would not have such protections, the focus of the Hague Convention’s hearing would be on determining whether the country of habitual residence has such working assistance systems in place.

Indeed, the focus, as clearly set forth in the Hague Convention treaty itself is not exposing the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise placing the child in an intolerable situation.

Any domestic violence claims should be litigated in the country of habitual residence, the only country which is allowed to make a custody determination. Any amendment to the Hague Convention in the United States which would add domestic violence as an additional Article 13 exception, to be litigated in the abducted-to location would blur the line between making a custody determination (which only the country of habitual residence may do per Article 16) as opposed to determining if a child was wrongfully abducted from his/her country of habitual residence.

The purpose of the Hague Convention per its Article 1 is: “to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State.”  Per the literal words of Article 1 of the treaty, the return is per se and on its face not being made “to the other parent”, but to the country of habitual residence.


New Legislation: A Look at the Immigration Act 2016

In 2014 the Government introduced an Immigration Bill that promised to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal workers and for those who facilitated them settling in the UK. In 2016 this has been delivered. While there can be no doubt that the Government has taken dramatic steps in introducing legislation that is already having a huge impact on employment law, there are many fears and concerns over peripheral knock-on effects that could be felt in the job market and society in general.

The Immigration Act 2016 was first introduced in the Queen’s Speech of May 2015 as a list of amendments and additions to the 2014 legislation, and received royal assent twelve months later. There are new sanctions within it that will have a fundamental effect on employment law, and will focus on preventing illegal migrant workers finding employment and settling in the UK, and will also penalise those who aid them in this, such as rogue employers and landlords of business premises.

Essentially there are three key objectives in the 2016 legislation:

  1. Preventing access to banking, housing and driving licences for undocumented migrant workers, so that they find it increasingly difficult to settle in the UK and find employment opportunities.
  2. Where migrants have managed to enter the UK without the correct documentation, powers have been introduced to identify and remove them more efficiently.
  3. Where illegal migrants have found employment, further enforcement measures against both them and unscrupulous employers have been strengthened.

There are sections of the new legislation that highlight potential violations of the human rights of migrant workers, and these are among the eleven amendments to the 2014 Immigration Bill that were in force from July 2016. These included:

  • The enforcement of preventing worker exploitation is now the responsibility of a new post created by the legislation, titled the Director of Labour Market Enforcement. Three bodies will work closely with the holder of this post, the body formerly known as the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority, now re-titled the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Standards Inspectorate and the HMRC.
  • A new offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 means that earnings of illegal workers can be seized. Further punishment comes in the form of illegal migrants found to be working facing up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment and/or a fine. This applies only in England and Wales, elsewhere in the UK the offence carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and /or a fine.
  • It is now a criminal offence for an employer to knowingly aid and abet an illegal worker in the pursuit of work. This carries a five year custodial sentence, which has been increased from two years.
  • Powers to revoke the privileges of illegal workers, ie. bank accounts etc are also now in force.

Some of the provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 already in force, as mentioned above, and many of those not yet implemented into UK law, have caused some concern amongst employment experts and human rights’ campaigners, however. These include:

  • An ‘Immigration Skills Charge’ will be enforced by the Secretary of State on employers who sponsor, and therefore encourage, skilled and legal workers from outside the current European Economic Area.
  • Public workers in customer-facing roles will be required to have a command of spoken English which is defined as being “sufficient to enable the effective performance of the person’s role”.
  • A landlord can face up to five years in prison for knowingly renting business premises to an illegal immigrant.
  • A ‘deport first, appeal later’ scheme has been extended to include all illegal migrants, who will be removed to their home country pending any appeal against this penalty.
  • Pregnant migrant women who have been found to be working illegally can only be detained for questioning for up to 72 hours.

Ison Harrison has a team of professional immigration and employment law experts, and their head of immigration agrees that the Immigration Act 2016 will have far-reaching effects in various aspects of society:

“The further toughening of the law on migration is as much to send a message to the general public that the Government is trying to do something, as it is to warn those who seek to enter and remain in the UK illegally. While the penalties may increase, living and working without status in the UK is no more illegal now that is was before the 2014 or 2016 Acts and those willing to break the law rarely consider the consequences of being caught doing so.

The steps the Government have taken in seeking to do what they say is strengthening borders and enabling enforcement of immigration law does seem to be creating the ‘hostile environment’ they are seeking.

This is partly being achieved by headline grabbing announcements such as those from the new Home Secretary recently on the registration of foreign workers but also by making de-facto border guards of not only Employers but also Registrars; Private Landlords; Bankers; Teacher; Midwives and the DVLA.

Migration has brought strength and diversity to the United Kingdom for centuries and will no doubt continue to under the new regulations and it is to be hoped that the Government will recognise and encourage the positives of legal immigration as clearly as they are dealing with the illegal minority.”

Opposition to the new legislation has come from human rights campaigners who can see various pitfalls in the sanctions being imposed, and also warn of the need to keep a clear distinction between preventing illegal workers exploiting the UK system and basic human rights violations.  In particular there is a concern that prejudice and racial profiling could lead to migrants already living and working legally in the UK feeling unwelcome, and employers may also prefer not to employ migrants at all because it becomes costly and troublesome.

Furthermore, there are concerns that bank accounts could become frozen in error or prematurely, during discussions over a worker’s legal right to stay in the UK. This could have severe impacts on the worker’s family, which would definitely be the case if that worker was then deported and separated from his/her family. It has also been commented that landlords could be discriminatory in who they rent business premises to, for fear of being penalised in the future.

It is fair to say that the Government has delivered in terms of trying to control the ease with which undocumented workers have been settling in the UK. However, there is a genuine concern that the ‘hostile environment’ being created will unfairly prejudice current legal migrants who may see their law-abiding status turned into one of fear where the UK no longer feels hospitable, already exacerbated by June’s Brexit vote and the uncertainty and confusion surrounding it. In the meantime, the UK’s employers are readying themselves for the crackdown and a significant change in how they recruit and what measures and precautions they have to take themselves.

For more information on immigration and employment related matters, please contact Ben Davison at Ison Harrison.

How are the new changes to Tier 2 affecting SMEs and start-ups?

Populist pressure has stipulated that the Government arbitrarily reduce net migration. In this spirit, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) conducted a review of Tier 2 of the Points Based System. The fundamental aim of the task was to provide recommendations to the government on ways to lower net migration.  Please note these measures affect residents of non-EEA countries only. EEA nationals (including nationals of Switzerland) are currently still entitled to European free movement, subject to the result of the upcoming 23rd June European referendum*.

The MAC recommendations (most of which are being implemented in stages from April 2016 to 2017) exponentially raise the costs of recruiting non-EEA workers and severely impact the ability of employers who operate in industries with skills shortages (eg nursing, teaching and engineering) to sufficiently staff their businesses. Such changes adversely affect UK SMEs and Start-ups as well.

The two most far reaching MAC proposals that the Government has chosen to implement are: a) an increase of the gross minimum salary threshold requirements for Tier 2 – to £41,500 for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and to £30,000 for Tier 2 (General); and b) the introduction of a new levy called ‘the Immigration Skills Charge’, of £1,000 per year, per migrant worker.

The fundamental tenant behind the new Immigration Skills Charge is the monies accrued by the Revenue from this levy will be invested into programmes to train and up-skill the domestic workforce.  How this plan is to be implemented by the Government, as advised by the Migration Advisory Committee has thus far, yet to be explained.

These increases come on top of already prohibitive costs of sponsoring Tier 2 workers (also increased in April 2016).  Whilst these increases will affect all businesses operating in the UK and will even make most multi-national corporations re-evaluate their foreign migrant workforce in an effort to reduce their working costs and overheads regarding staff salaries; the changes will have the most significant and prohibitive impact on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and UK Start-Ups, who (* Please note that on 23rd June the UK will vote on whether or not to remain in the European Union and the result may affect continued reliance on EEA free movement provisions.) may simply not have the resources to fund and administer the recruitment of overseas skilled workers.

A recent client, a tech start up approached this firm to apply for a sponsor licence with a view to recruiting specialist IT engineers (a shortage occupation role) to work in the UK. To illustrate costs associated with such applications we provided illustration for recruiting one IT engineer (reasonably assuming such an individual might have a spouse and children). The Home Office fees alone to sponsor one worker and to apply to bring a spouse and two children to the UK would reach nearly £6,000, once the skills levy is implemented. Our client simply could not afford to proceed.

With the Government’s removal of the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa system in 2012, it is now even harder to recruit international graduates from British universities. SMEs and Start-Ups are now forced to either navigate the complex system of acquiring a Sponsor’s License before they can even begin considering recruit of skilled international graduates or structure business plans which potentially exclude them from recruiting the best and brightest new staff (in instances where there are more roles on offer in the UK than UK graduates). SMEs and Start-Ups are likely not to have the resources nor the experience and fortitude to battle through the ever complicated labyrinth of bureaucracy to hire the appropriately qualified candidates (regardless of nationality and immigration status) for the jobs available.

One of the current Government’s manifestos is to stimulate the economic growth and encourage the best and the brightest minds to the UK. These changes however, create a real risk of achieving the opposite. The Government is effectively shutting the door to a great many of these skilled workers and the businesses wishing to recruit them and is pricing the UK out of retaining its status as a competitive global market economy.
The proposals set out in the MAC report (such as increase is fees and salary thresholds and the Immigration Skills Charge) and the already implemented Immigration Health Surcharge will not provide the promised revenue needed to up-skill the resident work force and prop up the NHS but will no doubt serve the intended function: to be a disincentive to employing foreign workers over the resident labour market.

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme

At its inception, the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme was devised as a means for the Government to attract foreign direct investment, as well as successful individuals from the overseas community, to the nation’s shores. Today, the Programme is about giving people options, a safe haven, and a route to happiness – especially when this was denied to them at birth.

In an exemplification of this concept, the Government of Grenada does not ban any foreign nationals from applying under the CBI Programme on the basis of their current citizenship or country of origin. Rather, each applicant is evaluated on his or her individual merits. Broadly, applications are open to anyone who is 18 or over, is in good health and does not suffer from any communicable disease, has a clean criminal history and a legitimate source of funds, and is willing and able to make the required investment.

Who Can Apply?

Qualifying individuals who apply – known as ‘main applicants’ – can include certain family members, such as their spouse, children, parents, and grandparents. These are known as ‘dependants.’ The latter three categories of dependants can be related either to the main applicant or to the spouse. More specifically, these dependants can be children below the age of 18, children who have yet to turn 26 who are both fully supported by the main applicant and in full time attendance at a recognised institution of higher learning, children who are physically or mentally challenged and who live with and are fully supported by the main applicant, and any parents or grandparents above the age of 65 who both live and are fully supported by the main applicant.

Every family member, as well as the main applicant, is thoroughly vetted by the Government to ensure that only deserving individuals are awarded Grenadian citizenship. This vetting process begins from the moment the applicant makes the first step towards application.

What is the Application Process?

Applicants for citizenship by investment cannot communicate directly with the Government. Rather, they must get in touch with an International Marketing Agent, who, together with a Local Agent, will submit their application to the Government. International Marketing and Local Agents are firms or individuals who were assessed by the Government for the quality of the service they provide, and are listed on the Government’s official website.

Agents help applicants prepare their applications, and offer guidance on how to fill out forms and how to collect necessary documents. Documents include, among others, police certificates and medical certificates, as well as birth and marriage certificates. Once the application is ready for submission, the main applicant must pay upfront due diligence, application, and processing fees to the Government of Grenada.

The Government of Grenada employs independent third party due diligence firms to review an applicant’s background, and to ensure that all the information provided by the applicant is truthful. The firms perform strict due diligence on every applicant, and submit a report to the Government for evaluation.

The branch of the Grenadian Government that runs the CBI Programme is known as the Citizenship by Investment Committee (CBIC). The Committee receives the due diligence report, and reviews the submitted documentation. Once the Committee makes a decision with respect to an applicant, it issues a recommendation to Cabinet. Cabinet makes the final decision on whether an applicant will be granted citizenship.

If Cabinet’s decision is positive, the applicant is issued with a letter of ‘approval in principle,’ indicating that citizenship will be granted so long as the applicant makes the appropriate investment. Once evidence of the investment is submitted, the applicant receives a certificate of citizenship. The applicant can then apply for a passport.

There are two types of investment that will be accepted under Grenada’s CBI Programme. By far the most popular is a contribution to the National Transformation Fund (NTF). The NTF is a local fund responsible for diversifying Grenada’s economy and assisting the Government with public development works. An applicant who chooses this option makes a one-time non-refundable donation to the NTF, and then sees that donation directly affect the lives of Grenada’s communities. For a single applicant, and up to a family of four, the minimum contribution level under this option is US$ 200,000.

The second option available to applicants is an investment in pre-approved real estate. The real estate must be located on the islands of Grenada, Petite Martinique, or Carriacou – which together make the tri-island nation of Grenada – and must have been approved by the Government after a detailed examination of developer experience, likelihood of success, and effect on the local population – such as job creation. This option, while taking longer to complete than the NTF donation, can result in a return on the applicant’s investment. It may also mean that, depending on the selected real estate, the applicant can make use of property on one of the world’s most spectacular locations. The required minimum investment under this option is US$ 350,000. Applicants must also pay a government fee, amounting to US$ 50,000 for up to four family members applying together. Applicants who purchase real estate under the CBI Programme must hold that real estate for a minimum of three years from the date on which they obtain their Grenadian citizenship, at which point they are free to resell.

The Benefits of the Programme, and of Citizenship in Enchanting Grenada

Despite its youth, Grenada’s CBI Programme is one of the world’s most popular. This is in part because the application is unintimidating and swift. In Grenada, complete applications are processed in 60 business days – far quicker than the years of waiting that applicants experience in other jurisdictions. Furthermore, applicants need not reside on any of Grenada’s three islands prior to, or after obtaining citizenship. To make the process even more welcoming, Grenada does not test an applicant’s language skills, education level, or business experience. Finally, the Government does not interview applicants.

The other key motivator for applicants choosing Grenada as their country of second citizenship is Grenada’s unique offering of lifestyle, travel, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The tri-island nation of Grenada is known for its captivating beaches, turquoise seas, and airy lookouts. It prides itself on its organic produce, such as nutmeg and cocoa, and on its respect for the environment. Offering an oasis of tranquillity and relaxation to some, Grenada is also a master of excitement and innovation. Grenada’s vibrant towns brim with VIPs and luxury yachts, and celebration is always the word of the day.

Grenada is however more than just a tropical paradise – it offers political stability, membership in numerous international organisations (such as the Commonwealth of Nations and the Caribbean Community), and a safe environment in which to settle and raise children. The nation’s educational track record is also excellent, with a staggering 96% literacy rate, and one of the world’s best medical offshore universities – St George’s University.

Citizenship of Grenada can be a catalyst for unique travel experiences. Citizens of Grenada can travel visa-free to about 120 nations, including the United Kingdom and the Schengen Area. One of only five nations worldwide to hold visa-free access to China, Grenada also offers exclusive entry to one of today’s fastest growing economies. Similarly, Grenada is only one of a very select number of countries whose citizens may enter the United States on an E-2 Visa. The E-2 Visa is an entrepreneurial visa for those who wish to invest and reside in the United States without having to become permanent – and thus tax – residents.

Finally, Grenada itself is a lucrative destination for investors. Its tourism sector continues to expand, and hotel developments are increasing like never before. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, Grenada saw overnight land-based visits and cruise ship arrivals each rise by around 19%. Grenada also has an international airport with 340 inbound flights from major tourist and travel hubs, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and a number of nations from South America and the Caribbean. With tourism expanding, more and more flights are likely to be scheduled.

Grenada also has a unique, organic-focused agricultural sector. It is known for its chocolate, and it is the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg, which also features on the nation’s flag. Finally, Grenada is expanding its financial services sector, and the Government is introducing legislative changes to make doing business easier than ever before.

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is an attractive option for investors looking for a seamless application process that will yield exciting citizenship results. The Programme is well-rooted in the nation’s law, and respected internationally. It is also open to all applicants, so long as they are honest and law-abiding. Citizenship of Grenada opens the doors to travel, rewarding investment, and security not only for the applicant, but also for his or her children, and for future generations to come.

UK immigration – an overview of Tier 1 and Tier 2

The UK immigration options for skilled migrant workers have diminished significantly in the last few years, not least due to the closure of the popular Tier 1 (General) and Tier 1 (Post Study Work) categories. The changes are in line with the Government’s stated aim to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, although routes remain open to those who are able to navigate the complexities of the UK’s immigration rules.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is for high value migrants who wish to invest in the UK, undertake entrepreneurial activities, or who are exceptionally talented.

Government statistics for the year ending June 2015 demonstrate that the overall number of Tier 1 visas has fallen by 23%, and that only 138 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas, 2,205 Tier 1 (Investor) visas and 3,369 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas were issued.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category is for migrants who have been endorsed by a Designated Competent Body as an internationally recognized leader, or an emerging leader, in the arts, science, humanities, engineering or digital technology sector.

The digital technology sector was added in April 2014, with the aim of making the UK competitive in the market for global tech talent. However in reality, it has been so difficult to satisfy the requirements in this category that even highly skilled and talented individuals will not qualify, and in any event, there are only 200 places available each year. From 12 November 2015, applicants who show “Exceptional Promise” will also be considered for an endorsement (as is the case for all other Exceptional Talent subgroups). This crucially lowers the threshold for those applicants who are in the early stages of their career, however it remains to be seen how flexible the Designated Competent Body will be when considering whether or not to endorse an applicant, and this change is likely to have only a negligible impact.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is open to those who wish to join, take over or establish a business in the UK. In order to be successful, applicants have to demonstrate that they have access to £200,000 and pass an onerous “genuine entrepreneur” test (which was introduced in January 2013), which gives the Home Office a very wide degree of discretion to refuse an application. Refusal rates in this category are shockingly high (around the 50% mark), not helped by the fact that visa applications are being determined by individuals who may have absolutely no knowledge of the particular sector in which the individual intends to operate (a task made even more difficult in highly specialised and technical industries). Applicants are not able to apply using the same day premium service, and will often therefore have to wait several months for their applications to be processed.

The requirements for switching into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category in the UK were tightened in July 2014, particularly impacting students, who have very bleak options for staying in the UK to work after completion of their studies.

In March 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned by the Government to review the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. In October 2015, the MAC recommended change in this category, and that there be a system of third party endorsement including the creation of ‘Start-up visas’ in collaboration with certain approved accelerators, as well as endorsement from a small number of angel investor networks or syndicates alongside appropriately regulated venture capital funds. Certainly a radical shake-up of this category is required, and while it will be interesting to see which of the MAC’s recommendations are approved, we consider it highly likely that the genuine entrepreneur test will remain in some guise.

Tier 1 (Investor)

The Tier 1 (Investor) category requires an applicant to invest in Government bonds or share or loan capital in active and trading UK companies. Previously the level of personal funds required was £1 million, however this was increased to £2 million in November 2014. Further, the migrant used to be required to only invest 75% of the funds in qualifying investments, but now 100% of the funds must be invested.

The UK is competing for these high value migrants with other investor schemes around the globe, including in European countries such as Malta, where European citizenship can be obtained faster and for a substantially smaller investment. As a result, the number of investors will remain low.

Tier 2

Due to the onerous requirements under Tier 1, and the consequential small number of successful applicants, businesses wanting to recruit skilled migrants in order to cope with skills shortages in the resident labour market will generally have to sponsor migrants under Tier 2. This requires the business to obtain a sponsor licence from the Government (a process which can take several months), potentially advertise the role first for 28 days, and comply with strict record keeping and reporting duties.

Government statistics for the year ending June 2015 demonstrate that the overall number of Tier 2 visas has risen by 9% to 92,590. The Government has commissioned the MAC to report on what it sees as an overuse of this category, and recommend ways to reduce migration under Tier 2. Significant changes to Tier 2 are likely, which will inevitably result in fewer migrant workers satisfying the requirements of this category.

As Tier 2 is the main avenue for UK businesses to recruit skilled migrant workers, the proposals have been seen by many as an assault on UK businesses. The changes are likely to raise minimum salary levels, which will have a disproportionate impact on some businesses, including smaller enterprises and start-up businesses and those operating in regional areas outside London. This could make it very difficult for some businesses to attract and retain talent and compete on a global scale.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) (ICT)

The Tier 2 (ICT) category is useful for businesses wanting to transfer established staff from overseas to the UK (migrants generally need to have worked for the overseas company for 12 months), and no advertising of the role is required.

Migrants applying in this category are now exempt from the English language requirement, however they are no longer eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (also known as permanent residence). Most migrants will therefore need to leave the UK after five years, and will be unable to return under Tier 2 until 12 months have passed.

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General) is primarily used for new hires that will not qualify for an ICT. Most applicants under Tier 2 (General) will need to apply for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS). There are only 20,700 RCoS available per year, and these are divided into 12 monthly allocations. Applicants across a wide range of sectors are pitted against each other, with higher salary levels being preferred. This disadvantages those in lower paid industries, such as the arts, and those outside of London. The RCoS process has been oversubscribed in the last few months, leading to a large number of applicants being rejected.

A limited number of roles appear on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), and migrant workers undertaking one of these roles will be able to obtain a visa more easily. However, the SOL is infrequently updated, and this can be problematic in industries that change rapidly in the digital age.

Further, where an applicant is applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, from 6 April 2016 they will need to earn a gross annual salary of at least £35,000, which may be problematic for certain applicants.

Cost of doing business

In April 2015 an immigration health surcharge was introduced for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants (amongst others) coming to the UK for longer than six months. This requires a migrant to pay £200 per year of stay as a contribution towards the National Health Service (unless an exemption applies). Currently ICT migrants are exempt, but the Government is proposing to change this.

A skills levy will also shortly be introduced for Tier 2 migrants, with the funds being used to address the skills gap in the UK by contributing to funding training and apprenticeships. No details of the amount of the levy have been provided to date.

Looking to the future

In order to address the skills shortage in the UK, Tier 2 must remain accessible to those businesses that require a skilled migrant worker to plug a genuine skills gap. If the Government prohibits or restricts businesses from sponsoring migrant workers in those circumstances, before any education or training initiatives to up skill the resident labour market bear fruit, this could lead to businesses leaving the UK.

Students should continue to be able to switch from the student route into a work permitted category, the “Exceptional Promise” criteria under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category must be flexible enough to allow gifted candidates to be endorsed, and entrepreneurs must be encouraged rather than treated with suspicion.

The Maltese Individual Investor Programme

The introduction of a new route for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship through an investment scheme was instigated by the recognition of a significant international interest in investment migration. The Individual Investor Programme, currently capped at 1,800 successful applications, allows for foreign individuals and their families who are willing to contribute to the economic and social development of Malta to acquire citizenship by naturalisation. While this will undoubtedly continue to enhance the growth and transformation of Malta’s economy, the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat speaking in New York held that the scope of the Individual Investor Programme is talent and not money. Indeed, increasing Malta’s talent pool and global network would augment Malta’s competitiveness.

Who may apply

This scheme is available to foreigners over eighteen years of age and their family. Therefore the applicant may extend the application to his/her dependents. The main applicant’s spouse or an equivalent to such in a relationship having the same or a similar status to marriage, together with the child of the main applicant or his/her spouse who is below eighteen years of age may be included in the main applicant’s application. The law also considers the unmarried child of the main applicant or his/her spouse between the age of eighteen and twenty-six years of age and a parent or grandparent of the main applicant or his/her spouse above the age of fifty-five years as dependents, as long as they are wholly dependent on the main applicant. These may therefore also form part of the main applicant’s application.


Above all, it is pertinent that the Individual Investor Programme applicant is of reputable character and that inter alia he/she is not a threat to national security, public policy or public health. Unlike most of the countries that have adopted a similar programme, there is no language requirement or citizenship test in place. Additionally, the individual will not be asked to give up his or her citizenship of origin. In fact, multiple citizenship is allowed under the Maltese Citizenship Act.

Furthermore, the applicant must have resided in Malta for at least one year, albeit his family members are not subject to the same requirement. When compared to similar programmes in various jurisdictions, Malta has one of the shortest residency requirements. It is also noteworthy to mention that the law doesn’t stipulate the number of days one has to be physically present in Malta. However it is mandatory that one forges genuine links to the island.

The Investment

Since this programme is investment based, applicants are required to make contributions which are used to build the National Development and Social Fund. A monetary contribution of €650,000 must be made by the main applicant. Additionally the spouse and every child aged under eighteen years must make a contribution of €25,000 each, while every unmarried financially dependent child aged between eighteen and twenty-six and every dependent adult aged over fifty-five are required to make a contribution of €50,000 each.

In addition, the applicant must also rent or acquire immovable property in Malta for at least five years at an annual rate of €16,000 or a value of €350,000 respectively. Liquid investments at a minimum of €150,000 in qualifying classes of bonds and/or stocks are also required. These must also be held for a minimum period of five years.

Application Process

Applications for citizenship are to be submitted and processed exclusively by a government entity called Identity Malta. Applicants must be represented by a limited number of duly authorised accredited persons. These are professionals who are licensed by Identity Malta to handle the application of the individual.

Identity Malta will review applications on a case-by-case basis. The vetting and due diligence process is a rigorous one. Very broadly the types of checks carried out include public information tests, background verification reports and global government agency checks.

The application process is professional, non-discriminatory and a fast track procedure wherein residence will be granted immediately and the passports for the main applicant and his family are issued within one year of taking up residence in Malta.

Benefits of the IIP

Acquisition of Maltese citizenship grants the naturalised citizens-by-investment all the rights pertaining to Maltese citizens. Thereby the applicant and his family will be afforded full legal status as a Maltese National, a passport within one year and in the interim Schengen residence status, the right to freely live and work in Malta and visa-free travel to one hundred sixty-three countries amongst which are the European Member States, the USA, Switzerland and South Africa. Furthermore, acquisition of Maltese citizenship confers on the individual acquiring such citizenship, international mobility, employment mobility and residential mobility.

What sets the Maltese Individual Investment Programme scheme apart from others of its kind is the short legislative distance between investors and policy makers. This ensures that those who take decisions are accessible and makes the system a flexible one where the concerns of the investors can be dealt with individually.

What does Malta have to offer?

Malta’s strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean together with its competitive tax system and flight connections has turned Malta into an ever-growing international business hub.

Malta’s wonderful climate and beautiful seas render Malta an ideal place for high net worth individuals who wish to form a relationship with a country which boasts a stable political climate, low crime rate and a safe living environment. Its industry, tourism and financial sectors are highly developed, while its educational system and health services are outstanding. Furthermore, its highly qualified English speaking workforce guarantees an added value to any investment.

In 2014 Malta registered the highest economic growth in the European Union according to Eurostat statistics. According to the European Commission’s Spring 2015 economic forecast, Malta’s economic growth is projected to remain robust. It was also forecast that job creation and the unemployment rate are projected to outperform euro-area peers.

Since, Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and part of the Euro Zone since 2008, this would give the applicants the opportunity to also become a European Union citizen together with the chance to avail of the second largest reserve currency in the world.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, besides being the first citizenship programme in the European Union to be recognised by the European Commission, the Maltese Individual Investor programme has been very well received. From the commencement of this scheme in 2014 to date, a total of 573 people have applied to acquire Maltese citizenship, 65% of whom hailed from Russia and other countries which were part of the Soviet Union, 19% of whom hailed from Middle Eastern countries and nearly 13% of whom hailed from Asian countries, while applications have also been submitted by Africans, North and South Americans and Europeans.


Cyprus – a direct route to EU citizenship

Acquiring a second passport has proved to be of significant importance for people who want to travel with less restrictions, to secure their assets, or to enjoy the benefits of welfare and high standard of living of another country. A dual citizenship provides international diversification, which is a crucial element for people who seek personal liberty and financial prosperity. European citizenship has been very popular among non-EU nationals who wish to obtain a second passport. Many EU countries have adopted laws and regulations in order to grant to non-nationals their citizenship or residence permit through investment.

Cyprus is one of the most popular EU jurisdictions, as the Cyprus naturalization by investment scheme is considered the most straightforward route to becoming a European citizen. Over the last few years, Cyprus has attracted many non-EU citizens from around the globe. Investors and entrepreneurs choose Cyprus over other jurisdictions for the fast track application, which grants the Cyprus passport in only 90 days. Cyprus has become a popular choice for investors looking for asset protection, entrepreneurs looking to expand their international presence, and retired immigrants who seek a second passport.

The scheme for “Naturalisation of investors in Cyprus by exception” was adopted on the basis of subsection (2) of section 111A of the Civil Registry Laws of 2000-2013 according to the Council of Ministers Decision (19.03.2014). The scheme allows for the dual citizenship of the applicant and the applicant’s family.

Why Cyprus is so popular

Cyprus is one of the few countries within the EU that offers direct citizenship without any residential requirements at any stage -before or after the application- unlike other European countries. There are no language competence requirements for obtaining the citizenship and the English language is broadly spoken in the country. Wealthy individuals benefit from Cyprus’ solid business infrastructure and the high standard of professional and multilingual services, the good quality of life, the relatively low cost of living, and the access to health-care and the educational system. Cyprus also enjoys a very low crime level. The strategic geographical location makes the country an ideal destination and the Cyprus passport offers ease of travel (visa-free travel or visa-on-arrival) to more than 150 countries in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, and USA.

Most importantly, Cyprus is a full member of the European Union since 2004. Hence Cypriot citizens enjoy all the privileges of EU citizens: free movement of people and capital within the countries of the EU and free establishment and movement of services and goods in all the EU countries. EU citizens enjoy the right to freely travel, reside, work and study in any EU country, purchase property, transfer funds, and invest in any member state.

The Cyprus scheme has a transparent procedure as the examination is solely based on economic criteria and the submission of a clear criminal record. The Cyprus scheme also benefits the applicant’s family, since the spouse and children below the age of 18 (or 28 under certain conditions) are also able to obtain citizenship. As citizenship can be passed on to a next generation, grandchildren inherit the Cyprus citizenship.

Tax incentives

Cyprus offers a combination of tax incentives for investors who are granted citizenship. The investors do not become tax residents in Cyprus unless they spend more than 183 days in the country in one calendar year. Hence tax is not imposed on the investors’ personal income. No tax is imposed on wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income or capital gains, and no restriction is made on the repatriation of profits and imported capital. Corporations are subject to one of the lowest corporate tax rates in EU (12.5 %). Cyprus has also signed numerous double tax treaties with other countries that offer tremendous possibilities for international tax planning.

Naturalization scheme through investment

The Cyprus government grants citizenship with various and often combined ways. Investors and entrepreneurs apply personally or through a corporation. The economic criteria are examined by the Ministry of Finance. The applicant may invest the amount of €5 million or the amount of €2.5 million in case of participation in a collective investment plan of €12.5 million. The investment can be made in (a) government bonds; (b) financial assets of Cyprus companies or organisations; (c) real estate, development and infrastructure projects; (d) purchase, incorporation of or participation in Cypriot businesses and companies; and/or (e) deposits in Cypriot banks or deposits of privately owned companies or trusts. The investor is also required to have a permanent privately-owned residence in Cyprus of at least €500.000 unless he/she chooses to invest the amount of €2.5 or €5 million in the purchase of a private residence.

Investors often prefer to invest in real estate to benefit from the investment and growth potentials and to gain significant rental income. The most popular investment option for applicants who invest the amount of €2.5 million in real estate is the purchase of one residential property, as applicants are not required to invest the additional amount of €500.000 for their residence.

The fast track application procedure

The application for the naturalization is submitted to the Ministry of Interior and examined both by the Ministries of Interior and Finance. If the applicant meets the criteria and conditions, the case is presented to the Council of Ministers for the final decision. Once the application is approved, the Certificate of Naturalization is issued by the Civil Registry and Migration Department within two weeks.

Residence permit – the permanent and unlimited ticket to Cyprus

Cyprus also offers to non-EU investors a permanent and unlimited in duration residence permit. The permanent residence is granted to applicants for the rest of their lives without any renewal requirements or residential requirements; a short visit to Cyprus once every two years is sufficient. The residence permit may be granted by purchasing a property in Cyprus of a minimum market value of €300.000.

Interested investors should keep in mind that applying for the Cyprus citizenship requires professional legal advice. The guidance offered by a reputable law firm specialising in immigration law, banking and finance, corporate law, and immovable property will determine the success of the application.