Cyprus Citizenship Rules Change, Language Tests Now Required

**Cyprus Citizenship Applications Temporarily Suspended Amid New Proficiency Test Requirements**

In a recent development, Cyprus has put a temporary halt to new citizenship applications as it works to finalize the details of its revised naturalization tests. The amended law, which was passed in December and included in the Government Gazette, now requires applicants to demonstrate proficiency in the Greek language and knowledge of the country’s political and social realities.

The proficiency in Greek language is to be demonstrated either at the higher B1 level or the lower A2 level, depending on the applicant’s status. Furthermore, a history and culture test has become mandatory for many applicants, aiming to ensure they have “sufficient knowledge of basic elements of the contemporary political and social reality of the Republic.”

The evaluation of these tests will be conducted by an ad-hoc committee comprised of representatives from the interior, education, and justice ministries. In a move to attract highly skilled foreign workers, the law now allows them to apply for citizenship after residing in Cyprus for four or five years, reduced from the previous requirement of seven years. These workers must possess advanced qualifications and secure an employment contract with a salary exceeding the EU average. Notably, highly skilled workers are exempt from the history/culture test requirement.

Despite these changes, the implementation has encountered delays, leaving many potential citizens in limbo. The civil migration department has stopped accepting new applications until the test details are ironed out. Marios Konstantinou, a lawyer at George K. Konstantinou Law Firm, expressed concerns over the stalled process and the frustration it causes among applicants.

While the specifics of the history test remain unclear, an estate agency website popular with expats has speculated on possible questions, though these have not been confirmed by the interior ministry.

Parallel to these developments, Cyprus has approved legislation to implement the European Blue Card scheme, designed to attract highly skilled workers from non-EU countries. Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou highlighted that more flexible rules are being introduced to enhance the EU’s appeal to skilled personnel.

As Cyprus strives to refine its citizenship laws and boost its global competitiveness, many await further clarity on the new requirements. The government’s efforts are seen as a step towards economic growth and a response to past controversies surrounding its citizenship-by-investment scheme. However, until the new rules are fully implemented, prospective citizens face a period of uncertainty.

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