In a move to attract tech talent to the island, the Cypriot House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Civil Registry Law on Thursday, relaxing the rules for granting Cypriot citizenship to foreign nationals working in the research and innovation sector.
The amended law allows foreign nationals in the research and innovation sector to apply for fast-track citizenship, granted at the discretion of the interior minister.
The amendment also reduces the time requirement for foreign nationals to reside in Cyprus before applying for citizenship and relaxes the Greek language proficiency requirement.
Fast-Track Citizenship for Tech Experts
Under the revised law, foreign nationals in the ‘research and innovation’ sector can now apply for expedited citizenship through a fast-track process. The final decision rests with the interior minister, who can grant citizenship to qualified individuals.
“The aim is to attract qualified specialists in specific fields. Investing in research and innovation means investing in our country’s future, and this will have an immense economic benefit,” said Diko MP Nicolas Papadopoulos
The Golden Knowledge Program
Papadopoulos emphasized that this is not a ‘golden passports’ program but rather a ‘golden knowledge’ program. The amendments primarily address the residency requirements and language proficiency for foreign nationals seeking Cypriot citizenship.
Relaxations and Qualifications
The relaxed criteria include the duration of residence in Cyprus before applying for naturalization and the requirement for proficiency in the Greek language.
Applicants must still demonstrate a working knowledge of Greek, financial self-sufficiency, a clean criminal record, and good character. The processing time for such citizenship applications is capped at eight months.
Key Provisions of the Amended Law
- Foreign nationals working in the research and innovation sector can apply for fast-track citizenship.
- Applicants must have a working knowledge of the Greek language.
- Applicants must be financially self-sufficient.
- Applicants must have no criminal record and be “of good character.”
- Family members of such applicants would also qualify for citizenship.
Processing of such citizenship applications would take no longer than eight months.
Benefits of the Amended Law
- Attracts tech talent to Cyprus.
- Encourages such workers to stay in Cyprus.
- Boosts the Cypriot economy.
The amended law includes safeguards to ensure that only qualified and deserving individuals are granted citizenship. Applicants must be physically present in Cyprus and thus have real ties to the island.
Cyprus’s recent amendment to the Civil Registry Law signifies a strategic shift toward attracting tech talent without resorting to traditional citizenship-by-investment schemes. The emphasis on knowledge-based immigration, accompanied by safeguards, reflects a commitment to economic growth.
The positive reception from lawmakers underscores Cyprus’s position as a forward-thinking nation, poised to harness skilled professionals for sustained technological advancement.