A short interview with:

A short interview with:

Maria Pastellas, Head of our Real Estate at PLANUS CONSULTING & SERVICES LIMITED at Great Britain – Cyprus Business Gazette published on 5th of August 2020.

I am proud that we made Cyprus an example to follow!

Maria, please tell us a few things about yourself and your company PLANUS CONSULTING & SERVICES LIMITED

I have been working in the Real Estate sector for many years having the privilege to work in Cyprus and Dubai. I have recently joined Planus Consulting & Services Limited as the Head of Real Estate and in collaboration with our group’s boutique Law Firm Nicos Neophytou Law Partners, we offer incomparable services to our Clients who wish to obtain the Cyprus Citizenship or the Cyprus Permanent Residence Visa.

Why Cyprus has seen increased demand from HNWI Indian Nationals and Non-Resident Indians living in UK & Dubai for the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP)?

Cyprus and India traditionally enjoy a close relationship as both countries share common values like the English common Law and Democracy. Both nations have much in common and are family-oriented and appreciate good food. Cyprus was always a premier destination for High Net Worth and Ultra High Net worth Individuals from many nationalities as an established multilingual and multinational business hub. Recently we see increased demand from Indian Nationals and Non-Resident Indians living in UK and Dubai interested in acquiring the Cyprus second Citizenship by investment and Permanent Residence Visa due to political and financial instability

What are the benefits of Cyprus?

Our island, a growing business and cosmopolitan hub in the Mediterranean ranks extremely high in rankings about safety. Now more than ever facing a pandemic, safety is one of the most crucial reasons Investors looking to acquire Cyprus Citizenship as an alternative safer destination for them and their families. In particular, Indians tend to have large families and Family-businesses, and the Cyprus Investment program allows all members of the family to acquire the Cyprus Citizenship. Value Penguin has ranked Cyprus 5th worldwide and 1st among smaller Countries in its Safest Countries in the World study for 2015.

Also, Cyprus enjoys excellent weather conditions all year round and is strategically located at the crossroads of three continents. Further, it enjoys a resilient economy, a stable government, and friendly legal framework based on English Common law. The attractive tax regime with one of the lowest corporate tax 12.5% in the EU, no dividends tax, and no inheritance and wealth tax enhance the attractiveness of the program. 

Two very well-known Indians interviewed by Forbes in an article dated 10/6/2018 mentioned several reasons why they obtained the Cyprus Citizenship. The reason for the real estate tycoon Surendra Hiranandani, one of India’s richest businessmen was “the ease of doing business”. Another famous Indian who acquired Cypriot citizenship is Anish Bhatt known as ‘Watch Anish’ who mentioned: “I travel so much for work, I barely get to spend 60 days a year with my wife and daughter. Those 60 days at home are now in a place with constant sunshine, swimming pools, and easy access to the most beautiful beaches in the world instead of in an apartment in a dreary, hectic city. London was also getting more and more dangerous and I wanted a better quality of life for my little girl”. He added that “It really worked well because the tax system in Cyprus is very easy to work with. Plus with all the new infrastructure and development coming up, I’ve also discovered many promising new investment opportunities”.

What are the main financial requirements of the Cyprus Investment Programme and Permanent Residence Visa?

The financial requirements the Investor-Applicant must meet for CIP is the minimum €2.0 million investment in real estate, land development, companies, bonds, or registered alternative investment funds and must keep the said investments for five years. Additionally, the Applicant must maintain for life a private residence in Cyprus with a value of more than €500,000+VAT (if applicable). An additional donation of €200.000 is mandatory.

For the Permanent Residence Visa, the Applicant must invest €300,000 + VAT in real estate and meet the income requirements. The application process usually takes three months and once obtained is valid for life and covers the entire family. To maintain your status you must visit Cyprus once every two years.

What are the benefits of the Cyprus Investment Program?

It is worth to emphasize that the Cyprus Investment Program is the only fast track citizenship by investment program in the EU. Cyprus allows dual Citizenship and is open to investors from all nationalities.

The Investor and family members can travel visa-free to more than 170 countries and can live, work, and travel anywhere in the European Union. The Spouse and dependent children up to the age of 18 years old can be included in the application and obtain the Cyprus Citizenship and is transferable to all descendants. Dependent children up to the age of 28 years can be included in same the application as well, provided that they can prove they are financially dependent on the Main Applicant.

Furthermore, if you maintain the Cyprus Permanent Residence Visa you can become a tax resident in Cyprus on the basis of the “60 Day Rule” and benefit from the attractive tax regime. It is necessary to stay 60 days in Cyprus in a tax year and less than 183 days in any other jurisdiction to be eligible as a tax resident. 

Now with the travel restrictions is it difficult to apply?

The process of the naturalization can be hustle-free when the Investor-Applicant chooses to proceed with a Registered Service Provider of the Cyprus Investment Programme. The Applicant and family members can start the procedure without the need to be present in Cyprus at every stage of the process make it easier to apply now with the travel restrictions.  The application process usually takes six months.

Do Brexit and the EU Settlement scheme increased the demand from wealthy Indians for the Cyprus Investment Programme?

In a way yes, for Individuals that meet all the requirements. One of the few ways to proceed with the EU settlement scheme for a settle or pre-settle status in the UK is to apply as an EU citizen plus additional requirements. Once you have your status you have the rights to work, study, and travel to and from the UK. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. We need to review each case separately though and advice accordingly as every Individual has a different background.

How did Cyprus respond to Covid-19? How will it affect the demand from Foreign Investors?

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has taken measures at a very early stage and managed to handle this crisis very effectively. Thankfully we are still in a particularly good situation with zero to very few cases. The main target and focus now is the connectivity through our airports and ports from incoming cases. The Cyprus Government decided to double the tests at the entry points to the Republic to maintain the good results. Our healthcare system and the Ministry of Health has done excellent work maintaining the healthcare of the patients with the highest standards. Due to the strict measures, the difficulty at the moment is for the investors to travel to Cyprus. The Government and private sector have collaborated effectively to find ways to overcome some critical issues raised by the pandemic transforming and upgrading their services digitally to make procedures easy and more convenient under the circumstances.

What is your message to the investors looking to obtain Cyprus Citizenship or Cyprus Permanent Residence Visa?

Cyprus is one of the safest destinations to travel, live, and work. Although the pandemic has affected the local and global economy, Cyprus will bounce back fast. In times of crisis, the investors are looking for opportunities and ways to diversify their portfolios and Cyprus offers these opportunities. Real estate is a long term investment and one of the safest and most profitable in the long term. Finally, the health and safety of our families is a top priority, so I wish that everyone stays healthy and I am confident that we will come out of this stronger and wiser. The fast- changing environment needs us to be adaptive and forward-thinking. Stay Safe!

For further information and consultation contact Maria Pastellas, Head of Real Estate, Planus Consulting & Services Limited at [email protected]

The content of this interview is intended to provide general information only. It is not to be substituted for legal advice or taken to be as legal advice.