Third-country nationals (TCNs) and non-EU/EEA nationals need a permit to work legally in Cyprus. The Business Facilitation Unit (BFU) has simplified the rules for residence permits. The government did this to attract companies of foreign interests with international activities.
- The BFU has accelerated the process of work permits for TCN employees. The process now takes about a month.
- It has abolished the labour market test requirement for TCN personnel.
- The work permits last up to three years with the possibility of renewal.
- Work permits under the BFU have several benefits, including tax and citizenship benefits.
The labour market test
Outside the BFU, the labour market test is the primary criterion for employing a TCN. The employer must show that there are no local personnel to fill the post. To do this, the employer must publish the post for two weeks in the local daily press and at the district labour offices.
Criteria under the BFU
Under the BFU, the employer company does not need to satisfy the labour market test.
However, an eligible company must satisfy one of the following:
- Companies with third-country shareholders own most of the shares. They must also transfer at least EUR 200,000 to a Cyprus bank account of the company.
- If a foreigner holds only 50% (or lower) of the shares, the foreign participation must be at least EUR 200,000.
- Public companies registered in any recognised stock exchange.
- Former offshore companies approved by the Cyprus Central Bank which have now changed their offshore status.
- Cypriot shipping companies.
- Cypriot high-tech innovation companies.
- Cypriot companies that operate in pharmaceuticals or biogenetics and biotechnology.
- Companies that share capital owned by persons who have acquired Cypriot citizenship by economic criteria may join the BFU if they satisfy the above criteria.
They must also own or rent office space in Cyprus.
Also, companies are committed to having 30% of Cypriots / EU citizens as employees over five years. In five years, i.e. after 02.01.2027, the ratio will be checked. If a company does not comply with the ratio, the case will be evaluated based on its criteria.
Procedure to register the company under the BFU
The below documents must be sent by email to the unit:
- Company Certificates and Memorandum
- Rental agreement or title deed for offices
- Bank statement showing the transfer of 200.000 euros or documents to satisfy any of the above criteria
- Affidavit from the director to confirm foreign ownership of the company
The BFU unit will reply within five days, and the certificate that the company was registered in BFU will be sent. Then, the employees might be registered in the Migration department.
Requirements for employees
They must have:
- A university degree/ diploma or two years of relevant work experience. In other words, the employee must be highly skilled.
- A minimum gross monthly salary of EUR 2,500 and an employment contract of at least two years duration.
- Application Form MBCS3.
- Copy of passport with validity of at least two years. The original passport is needed on the day of the submission.
- A copy of the visa used to enter Cyprus and arrival stamp.
- CV in English and a copy of the official translated academic qualifications.
- Reference letter from the previous employer ( if the previous experience will be used instead of degree).
- Official Declaration by the Employer covering repatriation costs.
- Health Insurance that covers inpatient and outpatient care and transportation of corpses.
- Original blood analysis results showing that the third country national does not bear/suffer from HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C and a chest x-ray for tuberculosis. They must be certified by a government doctor.
- Title deed or rental agreement of a house/apartment duly stamped.
- The original Contract of Employment duly signed, and stamped (two copies).
- Employer’s Liability Insurance.
- Criminal Record from the country of origin/residence (with Apostille or Cyprus Embassy Stamp).
- Receipt of payment of the annual company fee to the Registrar of Companies.
- Authorisation of representative.
A highly skilled employee may enter Cyprus with a permit obtained at the Cyprus embassy. Also, he/she may enter with an entry permit from the Civil Registry and Migration Department. The employer company is responsible for obtaining the entry permit for the employee applicant.
After arrival in Cyprus, the employee must apply to the Civil Registry and Migration Department.
There is no maximum duration for renewing such a permit. The process details and application forms can be found at http://www.moi.gov.cy/.
Work permit benefits
Employees with a work permit under the BFU will have the following benefits:
- Right to family reunification.
- Their spouses will gain immediate access to the labour market without the need to satisfy the labour market test.
Tax benefits according to income:
- EUR 55,000 and above: non-domicile new employees can claim a 50% exemption for 10 years.
- EUR 100,000 and above: non-domicile existing employees can claim a 50% exemption for 17 years.
- EUR 55,000-100,000: existing employees can claim a 50% exemption for 10 years from the year of employment in Cyprus.
- Right to be registered in Gesy.
A further benefit refers to naturalisation. The usual period after which a person may apply for Cyprus citizenship is seven years. Under the BFU, this is reduced to 5. It is further reduced to 4 if the applicant holds a recognised certificate of excellent knowledge of the Greek language.
The bottom line
Work permits under the BFU for TCNs are more accessible to obtain and carry significant benefits. However, the employer company and the TCN employee must satisfy specific requirements to qualify.
In Cyprus, the legislation for the employment of TCNs is the Aliens and Immigration Law (cap. 105).
Our immigration lawyers can assist you with the entire procedure: