Cyprus Start-up Visa for Third Country Entrepreneurs – An Alternative Access to Europe

European Union (EU) and non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, to reside in Cyprus and to establish, operate and develop innovative startup businesses with a good prospect of high growth, provided they meet certain criteria.

This is a great opportunity for such entrepreneurs to develop their business in a European country and acquire also the right to reside in Cyprus and also the right to bring their families with them to reside in Cyprus, subject to certain conditions set out below.
Cyprus has, in recent years, been constantly moving towards upgrading the current incentives available to foreign investors but most importantly introducing new innovative programs for such investors. Coupled with other well-known benefits of Cyprus as a country, be it the safety, low professional fees, high standard of living, and the Mediterranean Sea and weather, the country is one of the most attractive business destinations.

Part of the reason why Cyprus has now been steadily progressing and has picked up its feet so fast after the recent recession, is the open – minded approach of the government in finding solutions and introducing and developing new ideas which will further enhance the local economy, some of which have been tried and tested in other European countries. Once these ideas are put forward, they can bring about an outcome that would greatly benefit the local economy and simultaneously create new jobs for many more young professionals by promoting innovation and research, as well as developing the business ecosystem.

One of these innovative programs which has recently been implemented, specifically as of 1 January 2017, is the start-up business visa for third-country nationals mentioned above.
In this respect, the Council of Ministers, with its decision of 17 February 2017, determined the policy concerning innovative businesses and the criteria under which they can employ third-country nationals. This decision includes provisions for the grant of permits of entry and employment to third-country nationals in the aforesaid businesses and more specifically to the founders of such businesses (up to five), as well as to executives or senior managers and support staff.

The Cyprus Startup Visa Program will allow young talented entrepreneurs, non-European Union (EU) and non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, to reside in Cyprus and to establish, operate and develop innovative startup businesses with a good prospect of high growth, provided they meet certain criteria, which include, among other, access to capital of up to €50,000, the company’s principal office to be located in Cyprus and its management and control to be exercised in Cyprus.

The decision of the Council of Ministers provides for the possibility to apply for the individual startup visa plan or the team (or group) startup visa plan.

The benefits of the program are great, in that it gives the right to reside and work in Cyprus to non-EU or non-EEA nationals, for one year initially with the possibility to renew for another year at least and the ability to reside in Cyprus indefinitely and the possibility of family reunification once the business proves to be successful.

The Ministry of Finance, will be collaborating with local businesses for the purpose of examining and evaluating the applicants’ business plans in order to establish whether they fulfil the criteria and qualify as innovative businesses, in accordance with the provisions of article 9A of the Income Tax Law (No. 2 of 2016), as recently amended and came into force on 1 January 2017.

The program will operate on a pilot basis for a two-year period, starting from February 2017 until February 2019, during which period, 150 visas will be issued.

For a comprehensive analysis of the legal aspects of the program, as well as other programs and opportunities available in Cyprus, please contact Soulla Dionysiou at Dionysiou & Partners LLC at sdionysiou@dplawcyprus.com / +357 22 272360

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