Here’s something new (and potentially very interesting) from the world of investment migration – or non-investment migration, as it were:

Various media outlets are reporting that Cyprus is planning what’s being referred to as a “Golden Knowledge Program” to attract highly specialized research and innovation professionals to the island as new residents.

The Cypriot House of Representatives recently passed a proposal to amend the Law on the Civil Registry to this effect. The goal of the proposed legal changes is to attract “highly qualified” individuals (and innovation, tech and researched focussed companies, by extension) and their families to employment in Cyprus.

Details regarding the exact academic qualifications required, as well as the industries and areas of specialization that will qualify, have yet to be clarified.

The full text of the legal proposal is available here in Greek, and makes extensive mention of the need for applicants to be of upstanding character.

What is perhaps most noteworthy about the planned Cypriot “golden talent program” is that, if the proposal clears all legal hurdles and becomes ratified as law, qualifying individuals could naturalize in Cyprus within as little as 12 months (along with their family members).

However, whether this particular aspect of the proposal will actually become law remains to be seen.

And how the Cypriot authorities intend to prevent this program from being abused by opportunistic passport collectors with no plans to settle in Cyprus long-term – even if they have the requisite skills and qualifications – remains to be seen.

This knowledge/qualifications based path to fast-track citizenship in Cyprus will nonetheless be subject to applicants passing a basic Greek proficiency test (B1 Intermediate Level). 

As things stand in December of 2023, the residency requirement to naturalize in Cyprus is either 5 years or 7 years, depending on the type of legal residency status an applicant holds.

This fast-track citizenship route for highly qualified individuals and their famileis would see Cyprus competing with Portugal (HQA Visa), France (Talent Passport) as well as Canada (Startup Visa) in offering residency programs to attract new residents with highly specialized skills. 

And IF the 12-month naturalization benefit materializes, the Cypriot offering should gain significant traction.

In years past, the island nation was home to the highly popular Cyprus Citizenship By Investment program. This CBI required investments of at least €2 million, and was shuttered in November of 2020 amidst controversy and allegations of wrongdoing.

The Cyprus Golden Visa program, however, remains stable and globally respected going into 2024.

The new “Cyprus highly qualified talent program” bill was introduced by DIKO MP Nicolas Papadopoulos, who insisted this was not another citizenship by investment program. According to comments made by Papadopoulos ahead of the House voting on the proposal, “it has nothing to do with investing [in Cyprus] but rather with knowledge.” 

Whilst it is still very much early days for the proposed program, it is nonetheless an exciting industry development. With most of Western Europe’s populations steadily aging, countries like Cyprus will have to modernize their immigration frameworks with a view to attract global talent and maintain their internation competitiveness.

This is a developing investment migration news story, and we will update it as soon as more official information becomes available.