Cyprus: Cyprus Startup Visa for Third Country Nationals

Last Updated: 3 August 2017
Article by Shanda Consult Ltd

Originally published 6th April 2017

The Cypriot cabinet has approved the so-called Cyprus Startup Visa scheme on the 15th of February 2017 with the aim to attract foreign investments from non-EU countries (third countries) to Cyprus in the fields of innovation and research and development (R&D).

The Cyprus Startup visa plan aims to attract foreign, third-country investors, who wish to reside and to invest in innovative businesses in Cyprus.

The scheme consists of two parts, individual and team; which means that both individual investors and groups of investors can apply.

However, in order to obtain the necessary permit, applicants must meet certain criteria.

The Cyprus Startup visa scheme has the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be Non-EU nationals.
  • In case of individual startup, the founder of the startup is eligible to apply.
  • In case of group startup visa scheme, the maximum number of five persons (at least one founder and other senior executives with the right to stock option) are eligible to apply.
  • The investors, be it individuals or group of investors must have a start-up capital of at least EUR 50.000.
  • An innovative business or business plan.

Those businesses will be considered as innovative where the R&D cost represents at least 10% of the company's operating costs in at least one of the three years of operation before submission of the application.

In case of new business, the evaluation will be based on the company's Business Plan submitted upon application.

  • Business headquarter set-up in Cyprus.
  • The effective management must take place in Cyprus.
  • Cyprus Tax Residency. (Read more about Cyprus Tax Residency)
  • Undergraduate degree or an equivalent professional qualification.
  • Fluent either in Greek or English

According to the Undersecretary to the President, Mr Constantinos Petrides, 150 visas will be issued during the two years operation period of the Cyprus Startup scheme (February 2017 – February 2019) to the eligible applicants.

Benefits of the Cyprus Startup visa

The approved investors will benefit from the following:

  • Residence and work permit in Cyprus for one year, with renewal rights for at least another year.
  • Right to be employed by their own company in Cyprus.
  • Possibility to receive permanent residence permit in Cyprus in case the business succeeds.
  • Ability to hire a specific number of staff from non-EU countries without prior approval of the Department of Labor, in case of success of the business.
  • Family reunification, if the business succeeds.

The evaluation of the success or failure of the business will be assessed by the Ministry of Finance or by the relevant authorities at the end of the second year by taking into consideration the number of employees, taxes paid in Cyprus, exports and the extent to which the company promotes research and innovation.

This is an excellent opportunity for talented entrepreneurs and their executives from third countries to move to the 5th safest country in the world and to establish their own innovative start-up companies in the European Union. 

Cyprus is the best place to do business within the EU, apart from the tax advantages it offers many more advantages for entrepreneurs and for their businesses. You can read more about Cyprus and its advantages here.

Cyprus is rapidly developing as a centre for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Research and Development (R&D) and it provides an excellent environment for startups, including startup incubators, networks of startup entrepreneurs, R&D centers (both privately run and of universities), and startup angel investors.

Just to name some of the main startup supporters and R&D centers:

  • CyRIC - Cyprus Research and Innovation Center Ltd; CyRIC is the only certified Business Innovation Center (BIC) in Cyprus, certified by the European Business Network. It provides research and innovation services, developing and prototyping of innovative products for the international market.
  • Gravity is a Venture Building Incubator located in Nicosia, supporting founders and start-ups that provides pre-seed funding, helping founders and start-ups with business development, further fund raising and commercialization, and providing a state-of-the-art working space enabling entrepreneurs to launch meaningful and enduring technology companies.
  • CARDET (Center for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational Technology) is an interesting organisation, aiming to inspire next generation education, and to promote research, innovation, and development through evidence-based practices, cutting-edge research, and empowered people.
  • University of Cyprus. While all six universities in Cyprus are engaged in R&D activities, the University of Cyprus (UCY) provides the widest range of infrastructural facilities for Research & Development and applied research, with substantial internal funding but external funding as well. An overview of the wide range of research projects of UCY can be viewed here.

The Faculties of the University of Cyprus operate around 100 specialised research laboratories in fields like, for example, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, physics, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and manufacturing engineering, and others.

The well-developed research infrastructure of the University of Cyprus provides a perfect basis for interdisciplinary Research & Development and applied research.

  • CYBAN - Cyprus Business Angels Network; it is the only Angel investment network in Cyprus. Cyban was established in 2013. It is full member of EBAN (The European Business Angels Network) and of GBAN (Global Business Angels Network). They help to raise equity finance funding between EUR 25.000 – 500.000.
  • Chrysalis Leap is startup accelerator, supporting entrepreneurs to transform their ideas in the fields of Cleantech and sustainable development into marketable business ideas.
  • Idea is an integrated acceleration and incubation programme launched by Bank of Cyprus and The Cyprus Institute of Management. 

Shanda Consult and its professional personnel can assist to you with the application procedures for the Cyprus Startup visa.

For more information regarding the necessary documents and application for the Startup Visa please feel free to contact us.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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