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Refugee status in Cyprus - Legal Services

Who is considered to be Refugee?

The UN with the Geneva Convention in 1951 states  that a refugee is a person who leaves the country of origin or habitual residence, having a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Since applying for asylum in Cyprus, the Cyprus government takes responsibility to consider the request based on procedures established by the UN and the European Union.

Who is considered to be an asylum seeker?

Any one has the  right to submit an application for asylum once enter the territory of the Republic and argues that it can not or does not want to return to their country of origin or habitual residence, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution.
By the time of submitting since the final evaluation of the application by the Asylum Service  in a primary or secondary level the, asylum seeker  is not turned back or deported.

What are the rights of an Asylum Seekers?

Until a final decision is made by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus on the asylum application , the asylum seeker has the right to :

  • reside legally and freely in Cyprus
  • look for a job in specific areas laid down by the Ministry of Labour after six months of applying
  • receive public assistance through the Social Welfare Office based on specific criteria
  • receive free medical care (based on annual income )
  • attends school (unaccompanied minors or minor children of asylum seekers)

Who is considered to be a recognized refugee?

The Government of Cyprus grants the refugee status through a process of verification and cross-checking the data submitted by the applicant for asylum, in relation to the reasons that forced him to leave his country .

The recognized refugee acquires a right of residency in Cyprus , provided they follow the  , regulations and obligations established by law of the host country . Generally has the same rights as citizens of  Cyprus and other EU citizens

They can:

  • move freely in Cyprus
  • to work in any job area
  • to receive certain social benefits based on specific criteria and

Who has the right for a Subsidiary protection?

Apart from refugee status , the UN has recognized the need for international protection to people fleeing their homeland en masse , due to military conflict , generalized violence or widespread violations of human rights. Usually these people belong to a particular ethnic or religious group . In those granted the status of supplementary ( or subsidiary ) protection because if  the were to return to their homeland , their lives would be in danger.

Those who receive subsidiary protection status have the same rights as recognized refugees after one year has passed .

How many recognized refugees and persons with subsidiary protection status live in Cyprus ? Based on the updated data until 30/10/10 , Cyprus authorities have given the  refugee status to 287 people from 2002 onwards.

During the same period the Cyprus  authorities awarded subsidiary protection status in 1657 people.

There is also a number of recognized refugees, around 500 people, who received refugee status when the one responsible for examining applications for asylum were the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( before 2002 ) .

Thus , the total of beneficiaries of international protection in Cyprus is around 2444 people.

Where does   the majority of refugees / beneficiaries of subsidiary protection come from ? Refugees in Cyprus comes mainly from Iran , Palestine and Iraq .

What's the followed processes when an application is being reviewed?

During the last decade  Cyprus in the context of the accession to the EU, began to receive massive asylum applications . By the end of 2012, the  authorities examined 47,000 asylum applications . The recognized refugee status was granted to 421 people and subsidiary protection status to other 1668. There are also 454 refugees recognized by (UNHCR) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( had jurisdiction to consider applications submitted before 2002 ) .

Several people , after securing the status, depart from Cyprus to other countries . Today , it is estimated that  around 1500 beneficiaries of international protection still remain in Cyprus. The majority are Palestinians from Iraq , Syrians , Egyptians , Iranians , Palestinians from the occupied territories and Kurds .

For several years the Asylum Service has taken over an increasing number of asylum applications . The last two years new applications have declined significantly , limited to 1611 (1770 people ) in 2011 and 1405 ( 1630 people ) in 2012 . The Asylum Service is adequately staffed and able to assess in direct time many new applications submitted (at the end of 2012 only 892 pending applications)

The fast and fair examination of applications results in the identification of people who are entitled to international protection and stay in Cyprus . Simultaneously it functioned as a disincentive in effects of abuse or exploitation of delays.

Cost for Refugee status application: 10,000 euro (Person can remain in Cyprus legally from the time of Submission). Upon receiving Approval application further 7,000 euro should be paid.

The applications are examined in 3 stages : Asylum Service, Reviewing Authority, Supreme Court. The whole procedure lasts approximately 2 ½ years. Nowadays they get subsidiary protection only the Syrians and the Palestinians. The Ukrainians are left pending at the moment ( are not rejected not recognised ). All other nationals are eventually rejected. Most people they apply just buying extra legal time to stay in Cyprus.

Appeal in the Reviewing authority 350 euros. Appeal in the Supreme Court 1200 euros. Re- open of file 400-600 ( depends at which stage the file closed ).

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