Can I apply for asylum in Cyprus?
If you are outside your country of origin for fear of persecution or other serious harm threatening your life or freedom, you can apply for asylum in Cyprus in accordance with the Refugee Law of Cyprus and applicable Directives of the European Union. For more details on the asylum process, click here.
Where do I apply for asylum?
You can make your application for asylum upon arrival at any legal entry point to Cyprus – namely Larnaca Airport, Paphos Airport, Larnaca Sea Port and Limassol Sea Port. You can also make your asylum application at the local Immigration Police Office of your district. Asylum applications are submitted to the Immigration Police, and the competent authority that receives the applications is the Asylum Service of the Ministry of Interior. For more details visit our section on The Asylum Process.
I am in detention; how can I apply for asylum?
If you are in prison or being held by the police in detention, you can apply for asylum at the prison / detention centre / police station where you are being held.
Detention and imprisonment of asylum-seekers is not permitted for the sole reason of being an asylum-seeker.
For more information about the process of applying for asylum while being detained please refer here.
How long does it take to get a decision on my asylum application?
A first instance decision on your asylum application should be made within six months from the date you applied, but sometimes it may take longer. According to the law of the Republic of Cyprus the time limit of six months may be extended for a period of a further nine months under the following circumstances:
- it is a period where there is a large number of applications
- there is a complicated legal and substantial issue in your case
- you don’t go for the interview
The process can be extended for another three months, if required, for a comprehensive evaluation of your case. In any case the procedure should not exceed 21 months.
In practice the procedures may take much longer. According to the Refugee Law, in case of delays, you have the right to be informed of the delay, of the reasons for the delay, and of the timeframe within which you can expect an answer.
If I apply for asylum, where will I be taken?
Asylum-seekers without financial means are accommodated at the Reception Centre in Kofinou, if there is room available. At the Centre, families are housed separately from single men/women. Single men are housed separately from single women.
Asylum-seekers can remain at Kofinou Reception Centre for as long as their asylum application is being examined by the Cypriot authorities.
NOTE: As of April 2018 single male asylum applicants are no longer admitted to the Kofinou Reception Centre. Those facing homelessness must apply for emergency assistance from the Social Welfare Services.
The Kofinou Reception Centre is an open centre and residents can move outside the accommodation area. Residents have access to free healthcare and the children are able to start school. Meals are provided to all residents 3 times daily and a small monthly allowance is given to all individuals and families.
If there is no room at the Reception Centre in Kofinou, you must apply for social assistance and find your own accommodation.
For more information about your rights as an asylum-seeker in Cyprus, and about housing and social welfare, visit our section on Your rights as an asylum-seeker > Housing and social assistance.
Will my fingerprints be taken?
Under the EURODAC Regulation of the European Union, there is a requirement that the fingerprints are taken of any person who is over 14 years old, and who has entered without a visa or who applies for asylum.
Can I join my family members in other European countries?
If you have family members in other European countries you can formally apply to the Cypriot authorities to join these family members. There is a European Union law, the Dublin Regulation, which allows asylum-seekers to apply to have their asylum application transferred to another EU country or Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein where they have close family members. However, you must first apply for asylum, and you must satisfy specific criteria in order to make a Dublin transfer request. The Dublin Regulations require that such transfer requests be made within three months of the date of making the asylum application.
Please note that in all cases, you and your family member must specifically express your reunification wishes in writing.
For more information about the Dublin Procedure, see here.
If I apply to join a family member in another European country, how long does the procedure take?
The entire procedure can take up to 11 months to complete. In some instances, it may take longer. Specifically, the Dublin Regulations require transfer requests be made within three months of the date of making the asylum application. The country where you wish to join your family members will examine the transfer request and make a decision within two months of the request being made. If the country accepts responsibility for you, your transfer will take place within six months of the date of the acceptance.
For more information see our section on the Dublin Procedure.
If you are a minor and would like more information about family reunification, please refer to our section If you are under 18.
Can I bring my family members to Cyprus?
This depends on your status:
- An asylum-seeker is not allowed to bring his/her family members to Cyprus while his/her application is under examination.
- A person granted refugee status may apply to bring his/her immediate family to Cyprus, such as a wife or husband, or dependent children. Parent/s may also be brought if you are under 18 years old.
- Under the Refugee Law of Cyprus presently in force, a person with subsidiary protection is not eligible for family reunification in Cyprus. However, the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus may allow on a case-by-case the entry of family members of persons granted subsidiary protection status for humanitarian reasons.
I would like to go to another European country without applying for asylum. Is this possible?
Travel to another European country would require a valid travel document and an entry visa issued by the country of intended destination under the conditions provided by that country’s law.
What documents do I need to submit with my asylum application?
You will need to complete the personal data form with all your personal details. You must complete the application form at the Immigration Police Office. You must write in detail, clearly and truthfully, the reasons why you are unwilling or unable to return to your country. If you need additional paper to complete you statements, you can ask a police officer to give you some. You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire on the Dublin Procedure.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for asylum?
You do not need a lawyer to submit an asylum application. You have the right, however, to have a lawyer during all stages of the asylum procedure. There is no government system in Cyprus for free legal assistance to asylum-seekers during the examination of the application by the Asylum Service or the Refugee Reviewing Authority. Free legal assistance is only granted for cases before the Administrative Court, after the approval of a legal aid application. However, you can seek free legal advice from local non-governmental organisations listed here.
After I apply for asylum, can I live / work in the northern part of Cyprus?
You can legally reside and move freely in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus. If you cross to the northern part of Cyprus, which is not controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, even for a short visit, you may not be permitted to cross back to the government controlled areas. You may also risk arrest and imprisonment of up to 12 months, or a fine of up to EUR 1,700.
Will the authorities of my country know that I have applied for asylum in Cyprus?
The authorities in Cyprus to which you submit your application are bound by strict rules of confidentiality. They are not permitted to release information to the authorities of your country, or to its embassies or consulates.
I would like to travel to another European country without a visa. What will happen if I do?
It is not safe to attempt to travel to another European country without first obtaining an entry visa; you may endanger your life or the lives of any family members who may be travelling with you. Even if you manage to enter another country, there is a possibility you will be returned to Cyprus, as this was the first country you entered. A return to Cyprus may happen irrespective of whether your fingerprints were taken or not by the Cypriot authorities.
If I apply for asylum in Cyprus, will my application be accepted?
Decisions on asylum applications are made on a case-by-case basis. Some applications are accepted, others are not.
If you are accepted, you may be granted either refugee status or subsidiary protection. Both provide certain rights, such as access to employment (including the ability to set up your own business), state healthcare, primary and secondary education and state support under the same conditions that apply to Cypriot nationals. For more information refer to our section on Refugee rights and duties.
If my asylum application is accepted, can I travel to other countries?
A recognised refugee can obtain a refugee travel document from the Cypriot authorities. Refugees may be allowed to travel to another EU country as visitors without applying for a visa, depending on the EU country they are travelling to. For other purposes, such as study or employment, you will be expected to apply for a specific visa at the relevant embassy.
A person with subsidiary protection and who does not have a valid travel document of his or her own is entitled to a travel document from the Cypriot authorities which permits his/her travel. Currently the type of travel document is under revision by the authorities.
Why is it important that I follow the application procedure for asylum?
It is important to follow the correct procedure in order to be entitled to certain rights. If you do not follow the application procedure for asylum, you will not have access to the rights afforded to asylum-seekers and may be subject to detention and deportation. For more information about your duties as an asylum-seeker click here.
Do I need to pay to apply for asylum?
No, the initial process of applying for asylum does not have any cost implications.
I don’t speak Greek. How can I make my application?
Once you are at the Immigration Police Office, ask for an application form in a language you can read and write in. Application forms are available in Greek, Turkish, English, French, Arabic, Farsi, and Russian. If there are no application forms in a language you can read and write in, you are entitled to ask for an interpreter. The services of an interpreter are provided free of charge.
Are there organisations that can help me with my application?
Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC) is UNHCR’s partner NGO, and provides free legal and social advice to asylum-seekers and refugees in the Republic of Cyprus. CyRC provides advice on the asylum procedure, access to the labour market, social and health services, family reunification, and other issues. Psychological support is offered to victims of violence.
Address: 9 Stasandrou Street, Flat 401, 1060 Nicosia
Tel: 22 205959
Refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to contact UNHCR. If you wish to see a UNHCR officer for advice, please request an appointment by phone or email:
Telephone: +357 22 359 043 or +357 22 359 057
For more details on governmental departments and non-governmental organisations that offer various services and assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees in Cyprus, please refer to our section on where to seek help.
Can UNHCR send me to another country?
No, UNHCR in Cyprus cannot send asylum-seekers, refugees or subsidiary protection beneficiaries to another country.
In very exceptional circumstances, if you fulfil the immigration criteria of a particular country, you may be entitled to move there. For more information, you must seek advice from the embassy of that country.
What do I do if my application is refused?
If your application is refused, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons of your refusal. You have the right to appeal within the time limit stated in the letter. The appeal is free of charge. For details about the appeal process, please see here.