Thursday, 7 January 2016

Why Wait 6 Years? Faster, Cheaper and Simpler Access to the UK and Europe

An Alternative to the UK Tier I Investment Visa
The UK Tier 1 Investment Visa has been a reasonably attractive route for wealthy non EU individuals and families to gain access to the UK and European Union for many years. However the cost of this option recently doubled to €2 million, the process and requirements have understandably become more challenging, it includes extensive residency requirements and typically takes in the region of 6 years to accomplish.

This may still be an attractive option for some, however the length of time it takes, the requirement to live in the UK for a minimum of 185 days per year, every year for 5 years, and the language requirements makes it prohibitive for many. So is there a practical alternative that can provide similar benefits?

 The Cyprus (European Union) Citizenship and Passport Programme offers almost identical benefits to the UK Tier 1 Investment Visa route in a fraction of the time, is far simpler and is without any residency or language requirements.

How do the offerings compare in terms of benefits to the investor
They both provide the freedom, security and mobility of a second passport and the possibility to live, work and study anywhere in the European Union. Both offerings include the investors spouse and dependants and the Cyprus offering extends this cover to dependants up to the age of 28 as long as they are in full time education. They both allow extensive travel to over 150 countries. 

Are there any notable differences
Not at the moment as both offerings currently provide Full European Union Citizenship and Passports and the benefits that go with it. On the cover page of the UK Passport it states European Union, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Passport whilst the cover page of the Cyprus Passport states European Union, Republic of Cyprus Passport. However depending upon the outcome of this year’s EU referendum the UK option may be restricted to providing the ability to live and work in the UK only whilst the Cyprus offering will provide complete freedom and access to live and work anywhere in the European union.

Are there major differences in qualification?
The difference in qualification is quite extensive. The UK Tier 1 Investor visa requires the investor to live in the UK for a minimum of 185 days every year for a minimum period of 5 years before an application can be made for Citizenship. It therefore typically takes around 6 years to obtain UK (EU) Citizenship and Passports. There are English language tests and requirements. The minimum investment level has recently increased to £2m (approximately €2.8m) and property investment does not qualify as an allowable investment route despite it being a very popular investment vehicle for international investors.

By comparison the Cyprus offering taking just 3-4 months for Cyprus (European Union) Passports and Citizenship to be issued is lightning fast. There are no residency requirements, no language requirements and one of the major investment options for the fast track route is property investment. At €2.5m it is also a little less expensive.

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