NICOSIA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot government is extending for another two years its Startup Visa program for non-EU nationals, which is meant to attract young entrepreneurs to live in the eastern Mediterranean island and establish a startup business "with a high growth potential", an official said on Thursday.
"The initial two-year pilot program which expired at the end of February is being replaced with an upgraded one," Maria Matsi, assistant to the director of the Directorate of Economic Research and EU Affairs, said on Thursday.
The Cyprus Startup Visa scheme operated on a pilot basis for two years from February 2017 to February 2019.
The decision to extend the program was made by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.
Matsi told Xinhua that 150 visas will be given to nationals of third countries under the new scheme, which will be more attractive to applicants.
The original one provided that applicant should provide evidence, such as a bank affirmation, that they had 50,000 euros available for their living expenses.
"Under the new scheme to be proclaimed in about two weeks, applicants will be required to provide evidence that they have available only 20,000 euros for living expenses. They will also be entitled to a government grant, depending on the progress of their projects, out of a budget of 500,000 euros," Matsi said.
She said that under the pilot scheme, visas were given to six individuals and to the owners of four or five companies.
The applicants, individuals or teams, were required "to enter, reside and work in Cyprus in order to establish, operate, develop a startup with a high growth potential" with the goal to create "new jobs, the promotion of innovation and research, the development of the business ecosystem and consequently the economic development of the country".
Besides having the money for their living expenses, the applicants should also hold an undergraduate degree or an equivalent professional qualification and have a very good knowledge of Greek and or English language.
Further requirements include that the enterprise must be innovative, meaning that its research and development costs represent at least 10 percent of its operating costs in at least one of the three years preceding the summation of the application.
Once qualified, the applicants will enjoy a series of benefits including the right to economic activity and residence in Cyprus for one year, with the possibility of renewal for at least another year, and prospective residence in Cyprus without any maximum time restrictions, if the enterprise succeeds.
Matsi said that effort will be made in the new proclamation to further improve benefits to the applicants.