The asylum system in the Republic of Cyprus consists of 4 institutions:
• Asylum Service, part of the Ministry of Interior
• Aliens and Immigration Unit, part of the Police
• Administrative Court
• Supreme Court
Where can I lodge my application?
Since the establishment of the Pournara reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia, all persons who arrive in the areas under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus in an irregular manner are referred to the Centre to make their application. You will not be punished for entering irregularly, as long as you apply for asylum as soon as possible. You will need to stay at Pournara while they lodge your application.
For individuals who have entered Cyprus regularly, or have been already been residing in Cyprus, they can make an application at the Asylum and Immigration Unit, which is an office at the Police in the city in which they reside. They might also be asked to go make their application at Pournara as well, but they will not need to reside there.
Can I make an application in the North?
It is not possible to make an application for asylum in the territories under the control of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It is also not possible to make an application at the Buffer Zone checkpoints.
What will happen if I try to cross from the North to the South through the checkpoints?
In practice, anyone who presents themselves to the Buffer Zone checkpoints that separate the North from the South will be pushed back into the North, even if they intend to apply for asylum.
What will happen if I try to cross from the North outside the checkpoints?
There are many instances of individuals trying to cross from the North, and being stuck in the Buffer Zone. In 2021, 3 individuals were stuck in the Buffer Zone for up to 7 months without shelter, food or water. The UN does not accept applications for asylum, and will refer you to the Buffer Zone checkpoints.
Do I need a lawyer to apply?
You do not need a lawyer to submit an application.
How long will I need to stay at Pournara?
In practice, most people on average need to stay in Pournara between 40 and 60 days. Unaccompanied minors need to stay on average for 3 months.
Can I apply for asylum if I am detained?
Yes. Individuals detained at the Menogia detention centre or at Police stations can request asylum. In that case, a police officer from the Aliens and Immigration Unit will come to collect your application.
How do I prepare for my interview?
For the application you need a valid address so that further information about the procedure can reach you. You will be contacted for the interview by post. The time between the application and the interview varies, mostly it takes between 6 and 12 months. Responsible for the interview is the Asylum Service. Some people tell about friendly staff, others about discriminatory practices, bad translations and insufficient time to tell their story.
Can I choose the gender of the interpreter/interviewer?
What happens after the interview?
After the interview you will receive a letter from the Asylum Service about their decision. A decision may take years. In most cases it is a rejection. The letter is in Greek language and does not tell about the reasons of the decision. When you get a rejection you have 30 days to appeal or to leave the country. If your decision is an accelerated one, you have only 15 days to appeal the decision.
How can I appeal the decision?
The first appeal is made at the Administrative Court. This court can ask for a second interview and give you the possibility to explain your reasons for seeking asylum again and to add information. Until now the Administrative Court has not opted for this possibility in the most cases. Cypriot refugee law forbids your detention or imprisonment before the decision of the Administrative Court.
When you get a rejection from the Administrative Court you get a letter which tells you that you have 30 days to leave the country or to make your second appeal at the Supreme Court.
What is the accelerated procedure, and how does it get applied?
For individuals coming from certain countries deemed safe, the Asylum office might choose to treat your application in an accelerated manner. You will be informed if you are being subject to it, and you will be asked to provide reasons why your country of origin is not safe. If the Asylum office decides to reject your application, you will have 15 days to appeal it.