Rich Indians Look to Cyprus for Coveted EU Passports

FILE - People use the temporary casino during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new casino resort, in Zakaki, near southern city of Limassol on Friday, June 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

India’s growing affluent have an eye on the European Union and for many Cyprus is the gate where they can buy residency permits and passports allowing them easier travel in the bloc, with the advantage of being in a country where English is widely spoken.

Cyprus offers two golden visa programs through real estate investment. One for permanent residency and one for citizenship. The two Cypriot immigration investment schemes are fast and efficient at granting a residency permit and second passport, La Vida Golden Visas said about the program.

Applicants can secure permanent residency in Cyprus through investment in real estate with an  investment of 300,000 euros ($354,750) in property to get a Cyprus residency permit that opens the EU’s door to them, an advantage of being wealthy.

Indian real estate billionaire Surendra Hiranandani, cofounder of the Hiranandani Group, told Forbes magazine he picked Cyprus because of the ease of doing business there although the country keeps trying to fend off a reputation as a place for the rich to hide their assets and wealth.

“If I had a chance to speak with Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, I would urge him to do something about improving the ease of getting various permissions for the real estate sector. Then, of course, there is the major problem of the rate of interest the builders are charged,” he said in an interview with the Mumbai Mirror, lamenting the state of the construction business in India.

Cyprus seems to appeal not just to high net worth Indians in India, but equally to wealthy Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in cities like London or Dubai, the magazine reported, such as Anish Bhatt, better known as Watch Anish. He’s the founder of one of the world’s foremost watch and lifestyle magazines, with close to two million followers on Instagram.

Speaking to Forbes from Cyprus in a phone interview, he said he picked the island because of the high quality of life for the rich.

“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 said.

The island’s more tax-friendly business climate, and varied investment opportunities are an added bonus for new businesses. “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,” Bhatt said.

When asked what the process of getting his Cypriot passport was like, Anish explained, “While it may seem daunting to make the switch to a whole new country, it can actually be a very smooth process – you just work with consultants that specialize in enabling your move.”

The residency visa is granted within two months and covers the whole family. It includes parents of both the main applicant and spouse plus dependent children up to the age of 25. It is valid for life and can be passed down to dependents and spouse and requires just one visit to Cyprus by all family members once every two years.