Who can apply for asylum?

If you have left your country owing to fear of persecution or other serious threats to your life or freedom, you may seek international protection by applying for asylum in Cyprus.

Specifically, you can apply for asylum if:

  • you cannot or do not want to return to your country because you are afraid of being persecuted due to your race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
  • you cannot or do not want to return to your country because you are afraid you will suffer serious and unjustified harm such as:
    • the death penalty or execution;
    • torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
    • serious and individual threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

If your application is accepted you will receive a recognition letter that either recognises you as a refugee, or gives you subsidiary protection.

Who is an asylum-seeker?

When people flee their home country to seek protection in another State, they often have to individually apply for asylum under the national asylum procedure. While their case is pending a final decision, they are known as asylum-seekers. Not every asylum-seeker may ultimately be recognised as a refugee (or given another form of protection), but every refugee is initially an asylum-seeker.

Who is a refugee?

According to Article 1 A of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is someone who: “is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.”

What is subsidiary protection?

Subsidiary protection is a form of international protection that is granted to persons who do not meet the 1951 Convention criteria. This may include persons fleeing, for example, the indiscriminate effects of armed conflicts or generalised violence. UNHCR believes that measures providing subsidiary protection should have the aim of strengthening existing global refugee protection measures. UNHCR advocates that the standard of treatment accorded to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection should provide for the protection of basic civil, political, social and economic rights on equal footing with those granted refugee status under the 1951 Convention. Under the Refugee Law and Qualifications Directive, similar rights are afforded to refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries.


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