Cyprus Golden Visas popular with wealthy Chinese and Russians

Published:  6 Jun at 6 PM
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Whilst its everyday expat community fears the effects of Brexit on their lives, Cyprus is raking in billions by selling Golden Visas to wealthy Chinese and Russians.

Cyprus is just one of the 27 EU member states offering visas for cash to wealthy investors from across the world whilst its established expat community fears for its fate post-Brexit. Last year, the Golden Visa scheme enriched the government’s coffers by no less than four billion dollars, a huge 25 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The Cyprus version of the Golden Visa scheme allows expatriates to invest 2.5 million euros in either government bonds, a company or a property in exchange for a residency permit. The benefits available can also be extended to the investor’s family and can eventually result in Cypriot citizenship. According to a government minister, over 2,000 Cypriot passports have been handed out to wealthy foreign investors, 50 per cent of whom are Russians.

Although Greece, Portugal and Spain are also operating Golden Visa schemes, the Cyprus version is the most successful to date. For example, Greece received 2.8 billion euros in 2016 from wealthy investors, but the sum represented only 1.5 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Greece has issued some 1,500 Golden Visas and Portugal has sold 2,700 for a total of 1.55 billion euros, with one in every eight going to investors from China.

In Spain, some 2,250 foreigners have dumped 2.16 billion euros into the country’s coffers, with Russians and Chinese again the main takers. Benefits of the various Golden Visa schemes depend on their country of issue, with the Maltese version offering an EU passport enabling unhindered travel within the European Union.

Bizarrely, the EU governments supporting the scheme are complaining bitterly that the beneficiaries don’t bother to move into their brand-new mansions, simply returning once a year to renew the paperwork rather than spending time and more millions in the country.
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