All You Need to Know About Cyprus Immigration Process: The Yellow Slip, Permanent Residency and Citizenship
The legal aspects of the immigration process are often the most challenging part of moving to a foreign country. However, if you’re worrying that complicated laws and procedure will stand in the way of your successful relocation to Cyprus, you can breathe a sigh of relief and start packing your bags. That’s because, in the past few decades, Cyprus has considerably simplified its immigration process. Now, both EU residents, as well as visitors from outside of the Union, can do their immigration paperwork quickly and with relative ease.
Still, prospective expats and movers will do well to learn the basics of Cyprus immigration rules. Even though the country’s immigration policies may seem more lenient in comparison to many other countries around the world, a failure to comply with the applicable laws may result in serious legal and financial consequences. On the other hand, those who conform to the immigration procedure on the island may take full advantage of the financial, economic, and legal privileges the country offers to its residents and citizens.
In this chapter of our Guide, you will learn the most important facts about the laws regulating the Cyprus immigration process. Read on to learn what requirements you need to meet and what steps you need to take in order to legally stay, work, and establish yourself in Cyprus.
Cyprus Immigration Process Explained
The most important piece of information about Cyprus immigration process you need to keep in mind is that the laws differ considerably for EU residents and non-EU citizens. Admittedly, the process is a little easier for individuals who already are the nationals of another EU member state. However, the procedures that apply for non-EU citizens are not overly complicated either.
If you are an EU national, you will need to apply for a Registration Certificate for EU Nationals, commonly known as the yellow slip, in order to legally live and work and Cyprus. Non-EU citizens who plan to stay in Cyprus long term will have to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit often referred to as the pink slip. In addition, foreign nationals that meet certain legal requirements - from both the EU and outside of it - can be granted permanent residency. Cyprus government also designed a legal framework that allows certain individuals to apply for and obtain Cypriot citizenship through the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP). Below, we explain the most important aspects of each of these legal procedures.
Moving to Cyprus as an EU Citizen
All European Union citizens can freely enter and stay in Cyprus for up to three months without a visa. During this time, EU citizens are also allowed to engage in economic and financial activities without any additional paperwork. Importantly, the same rules apply for the nationals of the countries that form part of the European Economic Area (EEA) such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway as well as Switzerland.
If you’re planning a long-term stay in Cyprus and are a citizen of the EU or any of the countries mentioned above, you need to apply for Registration Certificate for EU Nationals. This Certificate is issued on yellow paper and that’s why it is commonly referred to as the yellow slip.
The Certificate is the most important immigration document an EU citizen must obtain to freely live in Cyprus. In practical terms, the yellow slip functions as both a work permit and a residence permit. Receiving this Certificate gives immigrants access to a whole range of essential services - it allows you to obtain the medical card, register your car or enroll your child in one of the Cypriot schools. Conversely, a failure to comply with this requirement may make it difficult to lead a normal, productive life in Cyprus and result in fines of up to a couple thousand Euros.
How to Obtain the Yellow Slip
You need to apply for the yellow slip within four months of your arrival in Cyprus. You can submit your application in your local immigration unit. These immigration offices are located in the major cities in all of the six districts of Cyprus.
You will have to book an appointment in one of such immigration units in advance. It is usually advisable to do so 3 to 4 weeks before the required application deadline. The appointment can be booked by a lawyer who can also accompany you when you submit the application. However, the application must be submitted personally.
To apply, you will have to fill out a MEU51 form and present the following documents:
- Proof of employment
- Proof of address (such as the copy of your lease agreement)
- Your valid passport or ID (along with photocopies)
- Two passport-size photographs
- Application fee of €20
- Proof of comprehensive health insurance in the Republic (in some cases)
Once you obtain your yellow slip, you won’t have to re-apply or renew it ever again - the Registration Certificate doesn’t expire even if you leave Cyprus for some time.
It is important to note that, even though the procedure to obtain a yellow slip seems straightforward, it is advisable that you contact and work closely with an experienced Cyprus immigration lawyer. This will ensure you avoid unexpected issues or mistakes that may prove costly if you end up missing the application deadline. It will also help you maintain your peace of mind during the whole process and allow you to focus on your work and activities.
Temporary Residency for Non-EU Citizens
When traveling for business or leisure, non-EU citizens need to obtain short-stay visas. A short-stay visa is valid for 90 and can be used to enter Cyprus one or multiple times. Non-EU nationals who would like to stay in the country for an extended period of time need to apply for a temporary residence permit, also known as the pink slip.
The pink slip owes its name to the colour of the paper on which it is printed. Simply speaking, the pink slip is a is a special temporary residence permit that allows non-EU citizens to stay in Cyprus for 1 to 4 years. There are three major categories these residency permits issued by the Cyprus government, depending on the purpose of travel. These are:
- Student Visa
- Employment Visa
- Visitor Visa
Pink Slip for Students
Students from outside of the EU who enroll in one of the Cypriot universities and similar educational institutions for long-term studies can apply for a student visa. It is important to note that students should initiate the application process from their home country through a Cyprus Embassy or Consulate.
Pink Slip for Employees
If a Cypriot company or a foreign company based in Cyprus wishes to employ a foreign national from outside of the EU needs to submit an appropriate application in the District Office of the Aliens and Immigration Unit of the Police or at the Central Offices of the Civil Registry and Migration Department in Nicosia. Such employment and temporary residence permit are usually issued for workers who have specific qualifications and skills. The employee should also personally register him or herself with the District Office of the Aliens and Immigration Unit of the Police and file the appropriate paperwork.
Pink Slip for Visitors
These permits are issued to non-EU residents who are married to Cyprus citizens as well as to a citizen’s parents-in-law and foreign-born children. They can also be granted to visitors from outside of the EU who do not need a work permit because they have enough funds to support themselves and so they don’t wish to work in Cyprus.
Pink Slip - Required Documents
A non-EU resident should apply for a temporary residence using either an MCYV2 or MVIS2 form. Depending on the purpose and nature of the stay, the following documents may be required:
- Photocopies of the first page of the passport and the page showing the last entry stamp
- Bank statements as proof of funds or proof of the sources of income
- Copy of employment contract
- Marriage certificate along with apostille translation
- Children’s birth certificate along with apostille translation
- 4 photographs
- Medical insurance
- Application fee of €140
Since the application process for the pink slip is much more nuanced and complex than it is the case with the yellow slip, it is even more important to consult a lawyer before applying.
Immigration Permits and Permanent Residency
One of the ways a person can stay in Cyprus permanently is to obtain an Immigration Permit. The country’s immigration law mentions 6 categories of migrants who can apply for a long-term Immigration Permit due to their unique circumstances. Such an application should be filed with the Civil Registry and Migration Department using the M.67 form along with the required documents.
The categories on the basis of which non-EU nationals can apply for an Immigration Permit include:
- Categories A-D: include individuals who intend to work as self-employed in specific industries such as agriculture, cattle breeding, mining or science. Depending on the category, the applying individual should also possess land in Cyprus, have a relative permit or have certain academic qualifications. He or she must also provide proof of disposable capital of €260,000, €350,000 or €430,000.
- Category E: as stated on the Ministry of Interior website, this category includes individuals who “who have been offered permanent employment in the Republic, which will not create undue local competition.”
- Category F: individuals who have invested at least €100.000 in real estate and have a stable income of at least €9,568.17 a year. The income should be of foreign origin and high enough to allow the applicant to maintain a decent standard of living without engaging in “any business, trade or profession” within the Republic of Cyprus.
Permanent Residency by the Length of Stay
Permanent residency in Cyprus can be granted to individuals who have legally and continuously resided in Cyprus for a period of 5 years. This applies both to EU and non-EU citizens.
Permanent Residency by Investment
Permanent residency can also be granted for individuals who invest at least €300,000 (plus VAT) in real estate by buying a new house or apartment from a property developer. In addition, the applying individual must also be able to provide proof of income amounting to at least €30,000 a year. The source of income must be of foreign origin. As a part of the application process, the investor must also deposit €30.000 to his or her bank account in Cyprus.
Citizenship Through the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP)
The Cypriot Investment Programme or CIP is a citizenship scheme that allows foreign investors to become naturalized Cyprus citizens and obtain Cyprus passports for them and their family members. This citizenship programme can include the whole family of the investor - their parents, spouse, and minor and dependent children. Importantly, the citizenship rights obtained by the means of the CIP are not only lifelong but can also be passed on to the next generations.
To be eligible for the Cyprus Investment Programme, the applicant must meet the following basic requirements:
- Be an EU-resident, have a valid Schengen visa or be a non-EU citizen who doesn’t require an entry visa to travel in the European Union
- Have no criminal record in the country of origin and/or country of residence
- Obtain a valid Cyprus residence permit at least 6 months before applying for citizenship
A person who has previously applied for and was denied the citizenship of any other EU countries will be automatically precluded from the possibility of gaining Cypriot citizenship through CIP.
To obtain citizenship, the applicant must also meet the investment criteria which include buying a residential property such as a house or an apartment valued at a minimum of €500,000. In addition, the applicant must make the following investments in Cyprus:
- €1.5 million (plus VAT) in residential properties or €2 million (plus VAT) in commercial properties
- €2 million by purchasing, establishing or participating in Cypriot companies and businesses
- €2 million Alternative Investment Funds or assets of Cyprus-based companies
- €2 million as a combination of the above
Don’t Forget to Schedule a Consultation With Our Experts
Even though this chapter of the Guide contains a comprehensive overview of different immigration procedures, options, and requirements, you may still feel you need more assistance to go through the immigration process successfully. To have all your pressing questions answered, you can take advantage of a personalized, individual consultation with one of our immigration experts. Get in touch with us using our contact form to let us know how we can help and to schedule a consultation on your Cyprus immigration issues.