Are you interested in hiring foreign workers in Cyprus? In today’s ever-evolving labor market, an increasing number of Cypriot employers are casting their nets wider to welcome non-EU workers into their fold.
However, you should be careful when employing international talent so you don’t run afoul of immigration laws.
This guide offers valuable insights to help you navigate the legal and operational aspects of the process, helping you smoothly integrate non-EU workers into your team.
Read on as we break down the legal requirements for hiring foreign workers in Cyprus.
To Hire Foreign Workers in Cyprus, Follow These 5 Steps
Non-EU nationals are eligible to work in Cyprus upon the successful acquisition of a worker permit.
The employment of foreign workers in Cyprus primarily hinges on the availability of qualified Cypriot or EU candidates to fill job openings.
In simpler terms, work permits are typically granted to non-EU citizens when local individuals suitable for the position are not readily found.
Let’s examine each of the steps you must follow for a successful international hiring process.
Step 1: Check the Prerequisites for Hiring Foreign Workers in Cyprus
In December 1991, the Council of Ministers approved the regulations and prerequisites for hiring foreign workers in Cyprus.
These prerequisites include:
- The absence of local candidates with the required qualifications for the position
- Saving and better utilization of the local workforce – This condition means that, before you can hire foreign workers in Cyprus, the government checks if your company is making the best use of the local workforce. If they find that your company could improve how it uses its current employees, you might get permission to hire foreigners for a reasonable period of time.
- The enhancement of working conditions within the workplace – This condition means that if your company has issues with how safe, healthy, or comfortable the workplace is for its employees, you may get permission to hire foreign workers. However, this is usually for a limited time. During this time, your company needs to make improvements based on advice from the Director of the Labor Inspection Department.
- Ensuring that the terms and conditions of employment for foreign workers are aligned with those applicable to Cypriot workers.
- If the job requires special skills that local workers don’t have, you must train a Cypriot during the foreign worker’s employment.
- Starting in December 2022, foreign-interest companies must prove an initial investment in Cyprus of at least €200,000 to be able to hire foreign workers.
Step 2: Conduct a Labor Market Test
To begin with, you have to check the availability of local workers (Cypriot or EU citizens) to fill the vacancy.
This means you must announce the job opening in daily newspapers through any of the District Labor Offices of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance.
To notify the vacancy, you must:
- Fill up a vacancy application form
- Notify the vacancy through the Public Employment Service
If, after this step, it’s clear that no qualified Cypriot or EU citizens are available for the position, you can proceed by submitting an application for hiring foreign workers.
Step 3: Submit an Application to the District Labor Office
You must send an application for hiring foreign workers in Cyprus to one of the District Labor Offices of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance.
To do so, you must file an application form for employment of foreign workers duly completed together with the supporting documents.
The Labor Office will review your application to ensure that your request to hire foreign workers aligns with the necessary criteria. The main focus here is to check if there are local candidates who are suitable for the job.
The Labor Department should make a decision on your application within approximately 6 weeks.
District Labor Office Application: Required Documents
- Company’s Certificate of Registration from the Registrar of Companies
- Terms of Employment/Collective Agreement
- Copy of Notice of Vacant Position from the Public Employment Service
- Proof of advertising the position through the Public Employment Service
- Certificate from the Social Insurance Services regarding the payment of contributions
- Certificate from the Taxation Department for the settlement of Corporate Tax and VAT
- Trade Union Membership Certificate (if applicable)
- Employer’s Liability Insurance
- Business Operation License from the relevant authority depending on the economic activity
- For positions that require qualifications: worker’s original or certified copies of academic and/or professional qualifications and experience (including Curriculum Vitae). If necessary, these documents must be translated by a sworn translator
- Copy of worker’s passport
- For the tourism industry:
- Operating License/Certificate from the Ministry of Tourism for restaurants/recreational centers/hotels
- Operating License from the Municipality and Health Certificate for Take Away
- Liquor License
- Copy of Distribution of Service Charge (10%)
- Menu sealed by the Ministry of Tourism for Recreational Centers and Restaurants
- For care homes and private clinics:
- Certificate of Registration for care homes
- Operating License for private hospitals
- For the construction industry:
- Annual Certificate of Registration of Contractor
- Proof of payment of Provident Fund Contributions
- For car garages:
- Vehicle Mechanic License from the Electromechanical Services Department
- For other Sectors:
- Relevant industry-specific documents (e.g., health service certification from health authorities, waste management license from the Environmental Department, etc.)
Step 4: Stamp the Employment Contract
Next, you must stamp the employment contract according to the following guidelines:
- Prepare an individual contract for each foreign worker and draft 5 photocopies. Both parties must sign the contract. However, if the foreign worker is not physically present in Cyprus, their signature is not required.
- Affix a £1 stamp duty to each copy of the contract, excluding the original.
- Take the initial approval letter issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance, together with the employment contracts, to the District Labor Office for the stamping process.
- Provide the Social Insurance Contribution Report and Receipt for the past 12 months.
- If you are operating in the tourism industry, you must submit additional documents. These documents include an Operation Permit from the Cyprus Tourist Organization (CTO), an Alcohol Permit (renewed), and a completed report for the Distribution of Service Charge (10%).
Step 5: Apply for a Work Permit
After the Labor Office approves your initial application, you can proceed to apply for a work permit with the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CMRD).
You must submit the application through the competent District Aliens and Immigration Branch of the Police.
Your application must include the following documents:
- Application forms M.58 and M.64 stamped by the Labor Office
- Photocopy of worker’s passport
- Clean criminal record of the worker. The certificate must be translated into English in Cyprus. This can be done by an entity like the PIO (Press and Information Office)
- Medical certificate of the foreigner not older than 4 months. The certificate must be translated into English as above
- Bank letter of guarantee for €350 to €850, depending on the worker’s country of origin. The bank letter must cover possible repatriation expenses, valid for 12 months after the expiration of the employment contract
- Employment contract stamped by the Department of Labor
- Tax Clearance Certificate issued by the Internal Revenue Department
- Company’s financial statements
The fee for a work permit is up to € 400, depending on the type of application.
Typically, it takes between 2 and 6 months for the CMRD to issue the work permit.
After Obtaining a Work Permit
Upon the issuance of the work permit, the foreign national can use it to enter Cyprus. When a work permit exists, it is not necessary to apply for an entry visa.
After entering the country, your worker must register in the Aliens’ Register. This allows them to obtain a residence permit (Pink Slip).
The fee for the registration in the Aliens’ Register is € 70.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, the process of hiring foreign workers in Cyprus requires careful consideration of specific regulations, alongside close collaboration with relevant government bodies.
By adhering to these measures, you can effectively embrace international talent in your team. This can be a positive stride for your business and Cyprus as a whole, infusing diversity and contributing to the nation’s economic growth.
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