Mind the Gap: Navigating Post-Brexit Challenges for British and Other Third Country Nationals in Cyprus

The repercussions of Brexit continue to resonate through the lives of British nationals residing abroad, particularly in Cyprus, where immigration and residency regulations have undergone significant transformations. The amendment of the Fast Track Permanent Residence Programme, along with the Temporary Residence Rules, highlighted an increasing disparity—a gap that the newly proposed regulations aim to address but still leave substantial challenges on the table.

For financially independent Third Country Nationals, the Fast Track Programme's requirements—mandating the purchase of new property worth at least €300,000 plus VAT, alongside an income threshold of €50,000 for the applicant, plus €15,000 for the spouse and €10,000 per child—pose a formidable barrier. These conditions sideline a significant segment of the expat community, particularly those who may find the property investment too hefty or unnecessary for their lifestyle, or those whose pensions and savings do not meet the high income prerequisites.

The Cyprus Parliament is currently deliberating a piece of legislation designed to replace the stagnant Category F application process, which has seen no approvals in the last few years, despite still being theoretically active. The proposed regulations would lower the real estate investment threshold to €250,000 and reduce the income requirement to €40,000 for the applicant, with an additional €10,000 for each dependent. This adjustment is a step towards bridging the gap created by the more prohibitive Fast Track Programme, making residency more accessible to a broader range of British and other Third Country nationals.

However, the proposed changes, while welcome, may not go far enough in providing a comprehensive solution for all affected parties. It is essential to critically examine these amendments to ensure they truly meet the needs of the community they aim to serve.

Recommendations:

  1. **Further Reduction in Property Thresholds:** A more inclusive approach would consider lowering the property investment threshold even further, making it accessible for more pensioners and middle-income individuals who wish to maintain residency without substantial property investments. While some members of the Parliamentary Committee have advocated for reducing the property price threshold to €150,000, others have raised concerns that such a change might further hinder locals' ability to access the property market. These concerns mirror trends observed in other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece.
  2. **Flexible Income Requirements:** Introducing tiered or more flexible income requirements could accommodate those with varying financial capabilities, particularly addressing the needs of retirees who might not have a regular employment income but possess other financial means such as investments or overseas income.
  3. **Enhanced Legal and Financial Advice:** Provision of comprehensive legal and financial advice through platforms such as law firms and consultancies could help potential residents understand and navigate the complex residency requirements.
  4. **Ongoing Review and Adjustment:** Regular review and adjustment of immigration policies, in consultation with affected communities and stakeholders, will ensure that the policies remain relevant and responsive to the real-world impacts they have on individuals’ lives.

In conclusion, while the proposed legislative changes in Cyprus represent a positive step towards filling the legislative void left post-Brexit, it is crucial to continue refining these regulations. Addressing the nuanced needs of all British expatriates and Third Country Nationals, particularly those who find themselves financially or logistically marginalised by the current requirements, will be essential in crafting a fair, equitable immigration system that can stand the test of time and change.

Demetris Demetriades, Lawyer, Managing Partner Andreas Demetriades&Co LLC

info@demetriadeslaw.com

www.demetriadeslaw.com

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