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12° Nicosia,
01 February, 2023
 

Tech companies calling for employee naturalizations after 5 years

'Pressure' from technology companies to reduce the naturalization requirement from 7 to 5 years

Panayiotis Rougalas

Following the 2023 Presidential Elections and the resumption of the meetings of the House of Representatives, ICT companies will begin "pushing" for the right to apply for naturalization after 5 years of residence and work in the Republic of Cyprus, as opposed to the current 7 years. After the elections, they will specifically open the chapter for the right to apply for naturalization after 5 years of residence and work in the DR, or after 4 years if they meet the criterion of holding a recognized certificate of very good knowledge of the Greek language. To accomplish this, the Law on Aliens and Immigration should be amended to reduce the required years from seven to five, and under certain conditions to four.  Furthermore, the amending legislation may consider introducing provisions so that when a person is absent from Cyprus for work purposes for a valid reason, this time is counted toward the period of residence in the Republic.

For now, the 'pressure' comes from technology companies, but if the framework is changed, it will also apply to other types of companies. The tech companies are requesting a fast-track application process overall, as well as the ability to reduce the time from 7 to 5 or even 4 years. They are also requesting the ability to allow their employees to stay outside of Cyprus for up to 90 days.

With Wargaming's restructuring, its CFO stated that the tide has turned and the company will return to profitability. The company's annual global revenue is approximately €700 million.

The companies' request for the introduction of the "Business Visa" in Cyprus is the final piece that completes the "puzzle" for working in the technology sectors and admitting highly educated workers from other countries for this purpose. According to the information currently available from ICT companies and their "wants," they desire the introduction of a new type of visa for international workers traveling to Cyprus on short-term business trips (short-term placement, training, seminars, conferences, and meetings).

About 25 thousand people are employed in ICT in Cyprus overall, and 6,000 people have relocated to the island as a result of the conflict in Ukraine to work for technology companies.

Revenue was reduced by one-third

The above intentions were presented in the context of externalization, which presented Wargaming's action on both a global and local level. Wargaming, as a member of tech island, reported on the impact and actions it took following Russia's war in Ukraine. The General Manager of Wargaming, Valentinos Polycarpou, the CFO, Andrew Tinney, and the Director of the CEO's Office, Mariana Pantelidou, gave a presentation outlining how the company's decision to cut ties with Russia and Belarus cost it a third of its revenue. At the same time, it lost one-third of its active players and its business continuity was disrupted, resulting in a 40% reduction in the workforce.

However, as Wargaming's CFO stated, the company has turned the tide and will be profitable as a result of the restructuring. It should be noted that the company's global annual revenue is around €700 million.

Big hit

Since deciding not to maintain or operate operations in Russia and Belarus and to exit both countries at the end of March 2022, the company lost a third of its revenue. The company's revenue was 28% from Russian and Belarus operations, 2% from Ukraine, and 66% from all other markets. As a result, the company's revenues were "lost overnight" by 28%.

However, as of March 31, 2022, it has been repeatedly stated that Wargaming does not own or operate any business in Russia and Belarus.

1 billion euro contribution

According to the presentation of the heads of Wargaming, which decided to "open its doors" to the Cypriot media after 11 years of activity on the island, the company's total contribution since 2012 amounts to 1 billion euros. The €1 billion is "divided" into direct taxes paid by the company and its employees, contributions to the Social Security Fund, VAT, net salary payments to employees in Cyprus, Mini One Stop Shop, real estate investments, purchases of domestic services and goods on the island, and, finally, an investment in Hellenic Bank. Wargaming employs 424 people in Cyprus and has created approximately 800 jobs since 2012.

According to the data presented, the contribution of the technology companies sector to the economy is expected to exceed 12% of GDP in 2022.

[This article was first published in Kathimerini's Sunday edition and translated from its Greek original]

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