If you are under 18 years old and you are not under the care of your parents or legal guardian, you should inform the authorities of your age. You will be taken under the care of the Welfare Services. If there is no relative of yours in Cyprus with whom you can live, you will be placed either in the care of a selected foster family, or in a special residence for minors.
If you are in detention you must inform the police officers about your age. While in detention, the Welfare Services are responsible to represent and assist you.
If you have family in another EU Member State you must immediately inform the Police or the Asylum Service or the Welfare Services authorities as you may be entitled to leave Cyprus and join your family.
If you have no documents showing your age, the Asylum Service may request you are given some tests to assess your age.
The Welfare Services will be responsible for your needs. If you need to see a doctor for any reason you must ask your welfare officer. Anything you say to your welfare officer is confidential.
If you are under 16 you are obliged to go to school. If you are 16 or over, it is not mandatory to go to school, but it may be in your best interests to continue your education.
The Welfare Services are responsible for representing you during the asylum procedure. A welfare officer must represent you and this includes giving you information about the whole procedure and all your rights and obligations throughout the procedure. Your representative must also prepare you for the interview at the Asylum Service and escort you to this interview. Your representative must explain the consequences of the examination of your asylum application should it be refused, and if you are refused your welfare officer must explain to you your right to submit an appeal.
Note: Detention of asylum-seekers under 18 years of age is prohibited.
What do I need to do to join my family member/relative in another European country (Dublin Regulation)?
There is a European Union law commonly known as the Dublin Regulation, which establishes the country that is responsible for receiving and deciding on asylum applications based on agreed criteria. Cyprus is a so-called ‘Dublin Country’ as well as: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
If you have family members / relatives in a Dublin Country, you will need to provide their accurate details along with detailed information and documentation on your identity and age when you visit the Asylum Service of the Republic of Cyprus for your first asylum interview. Providing this information at the earliest opportunity will facilitate your application to join your immediate family member – mother, father, brother or sister – or close relative – aunt, uncle or grandparent.
The guardian/representative appointed to you by the government to assist you during your stay in Cyprus until you reach 18 years of age, will be present at your interview at the Asylum Service and will assist you with your application for family reunification. Your guardian/representative will accompany you whenever you have to talk to the authorities. S/he is there to ensure your best interests. This means that your needs, safety, well-being and your own views will be taken into account. Therefore an application to join your family member/relative will only be made if it is in your best interests.
How do I prove that I am a minor?
You must show any documents in your possession that prove your date of birth, such as your passport or birth certificate to the Asylum Service. Birth certificates as proof of age may not always be considered as credible evidence. During your interview at the Asylum Service, you may undergo an age assessment. If after the age assessment there are still reasonable doubts about your age, you may be asked by the Asylum Service to go for medical examinations to see if you are younger or older than 18.
However, medical examinations will only take place if you and/or your guardian/representative agree in writing. The medical examination procedure will be explained to you by the Asylum Service officer and your guardian/representative. If there is anything that you do not understand, you should ask for it to be explained to you.
What other information is needed in order to make a request for family reunification to a Dublin Country?
In order to submit your request for family reunification to the Dublin Country where you have a family member or relative, you will need to provide the following information to the Asylum Service:
- Written consent from your family member/relative in the Dublin Country that s/he agrees to take care of you;
- Written consent from you and/or your guardian/representative that you agree to be transferred to the Dublin Country specified;
- A document that shows that your family member/relative is legally present in the Dublin Country specified. The relative may have refugee status or may be an asylum-seeker;
- Evidence that you are related to the person that you wish to join;
- Full address of your family member/relative in the Dublin Country;
- Details of your family member/relative’s income and living conditions (accommodation);
- Evidence that your family member/relative is able to take care of you.
How long does the procedure take after I make a request for family reunification?
The Asylum Service of the Republic of Cyprus will review your case and the documentation you have provided and, if satisfied, submit a transfer request to the Dublin country where your family member/relative lives. The Dublin Regulations require that such transfer requests be made within three months of the date of making the asylum application. Before the request can be made, all of the necessary information and documentation must be gathered, including proof of your age. Your guardian/representative will be notified of the date your application is sent.
The country in which your family member/relative lives will examine the 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. That country will then examine your application for asylum, and decide whether you should be allowed to stay and live there. If the country does not accept responsibility for you, the Asylum Service may write to ask if they could reconsider the decision. The country usually replies within two weeks, but sometimes it may take longer.
Why have I been fingerprinted?
If you are 14 years of age or older and you make an application for asylum, your fingerprints will be taken and transmitted to a fingerprint database called ‘Eurodac’. You must cooperate in this procedure. All people who apply for asylum in the EU are obliged by law to have their fingerprints taken.
Your fingerprints might be checked at some point to see if you have ever applied for asylum before in another Dublin Country, or to see if you were previously fingerprinted at a border of another Dublin Country. If it is discovered that you have already applied for asylum in another Dublin Country, you may be sent back to this country, if it is in your best interests for you to go there. This country will then be responsible for examining your application for international protection.
I have more questions, where can I get information?
Your guardian/representative is responsible to assist you in answering any more questions that you may have.
You may also contact UNHCR or the NGOs and other organisations that offer assistance, including legal advice, to refugees and asylum-seekers in Cyprus. For their details click here.