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The exact date that Cyprus will become a fully-fledged member of the Schengen area is not yet known with certainty, although steps to comply with all requirements are in progress. Once Cyprus becomes a member of the Schengen Area it will abolish the need for border checks for travellers from other Schengen member countries. A government spokesman said that it is not possible to give the exact time of entry because of the complexity of the preparations. As an example of this the Cyprus Police Academy has been engaged in training police officers about issues and duties related to the Schengen Agreement, with around 1200 personnel predicted to have completed this training by August 2016. Other areas of compliance which must be met before Cyprus declares its readiness to enter include data protection measures, implementation of common visa requirements and the establishment of easy communication and exchange via the Schengen Information System between member countries. The final say will rest with the European Commission once Cyprus announces that preparations are complete, whereupon the mechanism of monitoring and evaluation of the Schengen-acquis will begin. The outcome of this phase must be positive before the council takes its final decision to allow Cyprus to enter the Schengen Area.
All European Union member states are either party to the Schengen Agreement or are in the process of accession as in the case of Cyprus. Both Ireland and the United Kingdom are the only exceptions having exercised their right to opt out of the agreement.
Membership of the Schengen Area is likely to impact the ease of entry to Cyprus of non-Schengen travellers such as those tourists coming from Russia, Asia and the Middle East according to Dinos Kakkouras chairman of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents. Since May 2009 special visa arrangements by the issuing of a PRO-VISA have been in place for Russians arriving by a direct flight to Cyprus and are free of charge for Russian citizens. This is a provisional visa which tourists can apply for electronically via the Consulate of the Cyprus Republic. On arrival at the airport in Cyprus the final entry visa is affixed to the tourist’s passport. Russian citizens entering Cyprus with a Schengen Visa from a Schengen member country will be entitled to remain in Cyprus until the expiry of the visa period. In addition it is worth noting that the possibility of obtaining Cypriot Investment Citizenship has become easier with the amount of investment required being considerably reduced.
Sources: http://www.mfa.gov.cy, http://in-cyprus.com, http://cyprusbusinessmail.com, www.cyprus-mail.com.
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