Introduction of New Legislation for Tech Talents
Cyprus has recently made a legislative move to attract and retain technology talent by passing an amendment to the Civil Registry Law. This amendment significantly relaxes the criteria for granting Cypriot citizenship to foreign nationals working in the ‘research and innovation’ sector, introducing a fast-track process overseen by the interior minister.
Focus on Knowledge, Not Investment
Diko MP Nicolas Papadopoulos, who introduced the bill, emphasized that this initiative is not a repeat of the problematic citizenship-by-investment scheme from the past. Instead, it focuses on drawing in specialists with valuable knowledge and skills. Papadopoulos highlighted that the scheme is meant to bolster the nation’s future by investing in research and innovation, describing it as a “golden knowledge programme” rather than a “golden passports programme.”
Criteria for Fast-Track Citizenship
The newly amended law simplifies the naturalization process for eligible individuals. It modifies the residency requirements and language proficiency expectations for applicants. To qualify, individuals must demonstrate a working knowledge of Greek, financial self-sufficiency, a clean criminal record, and good character. Additionally, family members can also qualify for citizenship if they have legally resided in Cyprus for at least 12 months before applying. The processing time for these applications is expected to be no longer than eight months.
Safeguards and Support for the Amendment
Aristos Damianou of Akel welcomed the new arrangement, noting its safeguards, such as the physical presence requirement in Cyprus, ensuring applicants have genuine ties to the country. He referenced the presence of many tech experts already residing in Cyprus, contributing significantly to the economy, with research and innovation companies adding around €3.2 billion.
Discussion and Amendments on the House Floor
During the parliamentary discussion, MPs Charalambos Theopemptou and independent Alexandra Attalidou proposed capping the number of naturalizations at 4,000. However, this amendment was ultimately defeated. The passing of this law signifies Cyprus’s commitment to fostering a knowledge-based economy and its efforts to become a hub for tech talent.
Conclusion: Cyprus’s Strategic Move for Innovation
By easing its citizenship rules, Cyprus is strategically positioning itself as an attractive destination for global tech experts and innovators. This ‘golden knowledge programme’ represents a shift towards valuing talent and expertise, aiming to drive economic growth and innovation on the island. As the law takes effect, it will be interesting to observe the impact on Cyprus’s tech sector and overall economic development.