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Immigration Laws

Immigration Laws

Obtaining a Residence Permit in Cyprus

Cyprus with its warm and stable climate and convenient geographical position is considered as an attractive place for residence and employment. Residence and employment in Cyprus are governed by the Aliens and Immigration legislation of Cyprus (Alien and Immigration Law Chapter 105 of the Laws as amended; Alien and Immigration Regulation KDP 242/72 of 22.12.1972 as amended).

Entry

The requirements for visa vary depending on the nationality of each foreigner. EU citizens pass the so-called face and passport control without receiving an entry stamp on their passport. Other nationals are required to secure their entry visa prior to arrival in Cyprus at the Embassy of Cyprus at their country. All other nationals receive the official stamp on their passport that witnesses their arrival.
The entry visa is usually given from one to four weeks depending on the case. The visa can be extended to up to three months by submitting the required documents to the District Aliens and Immigration Office.

Residence Permit

A. Temporary Residence Permit

An alien may request for the issue of a temporary residence permit for the purpose of holidays, tour around the island and for the search of a possible temporary or permanent settlement in Cyprus.

To receive a residence permit in Cyprus an alien resident must fulfill one of the following requirements:
Property in Cyprus (holiday house)
Disposal of secured annual income

In some cases the Immigration Officer may secure a permit for an alien if he has stable and secured income from abroad. This may be his pension, dividends from investments, interest from deposits, etc.

Alien students or pupils

Pupil permits for aliens are granted for attending registered secondary and primary educational institutes. In these cases the applications are submitted by the educational establishment that the aliens will attend. Such a permit is subject to be issued for a specific educational institute and a change of the institute means an abolishment of the existing permit and an obligation to obtain a new one.

Other cases in which temporary residence permits are issued

Any person that permanently or temporarily stays in Cyprus or has a work permit may invite close members of his family to stay together with him and apply for a temporary residence permit for them. The documents that must be presented to the District Aliens and Immigration Office are the work or residence permit and a bank letter of guarantee. An immigration officer may require additional information in each separate case.

B. Permanent Residence Permit

In order to settle in Cyprus permanently an alien may apply to the Chief Immigration Officer, Nicosia, Cyprus by submission of application form M.67. In accordance with the Regulation 5 of the Alien and Immigration Regulations of 1972 an alien person must belong to one of the following Categories:

Category A: Persons who intend to work as self employed in agriculture, cattle breeding, bird breeding or fish culture in the Republic, provided that they have in their possession adequate land or a permit to acquire same, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of EUR 425,000 and such an employment should not negatively affect the general economy of the Republic.

Category B: Persons who intend to work as self employed in mining enterprises in the Republic, provided that they have in their possession a relative permit, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of EUR 340,000 and such an employment should not negatively affect the general economy of the Republic.

Category C: Persons who intend to work as self employed in a trade or profession in the Republic, provided that they have in their possession a relative permit, they have fully and freely at their disposal capital of EUR 255,000 and such an employment should not affect negatively the general economy of the Republic.

Category D: Persons who intend to work as self employed in a profession or science in the Republic, provided that they have academic or professional qualifications, for which there is demand in Cyprus. Possession of adequate funds is also necessary.

Category E: Persons who have been offered permanent employment in the Republic, which will not create undue local competition.

Category F: Persons who possess and have fully and freely at their disposal a secured annual income, high enough to give them a decent living in Cyprus, without having to engage in any business, trade or profession. The annual income required should be at least Euro 30,000.00 for a single applicant and moreover at least Euro 5,000.00 for every dependent person, but the Immigration Control Board may demand additional amounts as necessary.

Most applicants come under this Category F, the majority of them being pensioners or retired persons. If the application is finally approved, an alien will not be allowed to engage in any form of business, profession or occupation, whether paid or unpaid while residing in Cyprus and will have to support himself and all his family from his own income.

If the application is finally approved by the Civil Registry and Migration Department of Nicosia and the permanent residence permit is granted an alien receives an official stamp on his passport and is not obliged to renew his residence permit annually.

Cyprus has recently implemented The Directive of the European Union 2003/109/EC, which says that migrants who live in Cyprus for five years, legally and continuously, are entitled to obtain a permanent residence permit. The Directive was published on 23 January 2004 and is in force in Cyprus since 23 January 2006.

Work Permit in Cyprus

Cyprus Labour Law is a combination of Contract Law, Statute law and Common Law. The Laws conform to the regulations of a number of International Labour Organisation Conventions ratified by Cyprus.

Employment relationships are based on the employment contract. There are specialized labour courts that regulate labour disputes and for some matters they may have exclusive jurisdiction (e.g. for redundancy matters).

Hiring the Employee

The Law stipulates that the employment agreement should not override or provide fewer rights to the employees than the employment laws provide. Further, Law 100(I)2000 provides that the employer must disclose to the employee either in the employment agreement or in a form of a statement the minimum following information:

The identification information of the parties;
The place of the employment and the registered address (or residence address) of the employer;
The position of the employee, his/her rank, the category and object of his/her employment;
The date the agreement comes into force and the duration of the agreement if it is made for a specific period of time;
The number of days allowed as annual leave with pay together with the method and time of their provision;
The timetable that the employer and the employee must meet in case of the termination of the agreement by a notification;
All the remuneration that the employee is allowed and the method of payment of the remuneration;
The duration of the normal daily or weekly employment of the employee;
Reference, if any, to the collective agreements that regulate the terms or the working conditions of the employee.

The above requirements do not apply to employees who have worked less than one month or who do not work for more than eight hours per week and their employment is occasional.

Maximum Working Hours

These are set at a maximum of 48 hours per week which include overtime.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is currently set at approximately €870.00 monthly earnings.

Minimum Holiday entitlement

The Working Time Law, Cap.182 and Law 15/1967 forsee to the right to a minimum of twenty days annual leave in addition to public holidays.

Hiring Non-Nationals

The specific rule about hiring non-nationals is a written employment agreement which is proved and stamped by the Labour office, the purpose being to ensure that the mandatory requirements are met. For non-EU citizens the employer must obtain permission to employ them from the Labour Office. In order to lawfuly hire a non- EU citizen the employer must show that there is no human resource available in Cyprus or anywhere else in Europe.

Maintaining the Employee Relationship

The employers are allowed to make changes to the contract if these do not override or are not inferior to the provisions of the laws and reasonable notice is given to the other party.

As to the obligations of employers there are five contributions which the employers must pay for:

The social insurance fund;
The annual paid leave fund;
The termination of employment fund;
Development of human resources;
Social coherence fund.

Trade Unions are highly developed in Cyprus. In accordance with the Trade Unions Law, Cap. 117 the employee has the option to have the terms and conditions of the employment agreement determined by collective agreements between trade unions and employers.

The legislation of Cyprus provides equality in rights for nationals and non-nationals on strike, holidays and on safe and healthy working conditions.

Termination of Employment

Firing the employee is regulated by the Termination of Employment Law. A contract may be normally terminated by performance, frustration, agreement, breach, notice or dismissal.

The requirement concerning the minimum period of notice depends on the duration of the employment. The longer the period of employment then the longer the notice period required.
An employment agreement can be terminated by reason of the employee’s retirement age or when an employee cannot perform his/her duties because of age.

The retirement age for employees in Cyprus is 65 years.

The Law distinguishes fair and unfair dismissal.

The employment agreement can be lawfully terminated for one of the following reasons:

• The employee fails to carry out his work in a reasonably efficient manner;
• The employee becomes redundant;
• The termination is due to force majeure;
• The contract has expired;
• The employee renders himself liable to dismissal without notice;
• The contract is such that it is clear that the employer – employee relationship cannot reasonably be expected to continue.

The employee has the right to qualify for unfair dismissal compensation if he is under 65 years of age, he has been continuously employed for not less than 26 weeks (in certain cases this may be extended to 104 weeks) and no valid grounds exist for the termination of his employment.

The compensation for unfair dismissal is calculated according to a schedule providing for a redundancy payment of up to two years’ salary.

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