Asylum in Cyprus

Many asylum seekers enter Cyprus from the north, not controlled by the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), and irregularly cross the “green line” to RoC-controlled areas, while a smaller percentage enter legally and then apply for asylum. Recently, about 30% of applicants are those already in the country who switch to asylum after their initial residence permit expires. In 2021 and 2022, there was an increase in new arrivals compared to in-country applicants.

Cyprus follows a single asylum procedure for both refugee and subsidiary protection status. Applications are made at the Aliens and Immigration Unit (Department of the Police) in the applicant’s residing city, available in all five districts (Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Ammochostos). New arrivals in RoC-controlled areas are sent to Pournara, the First Reception Centre in Kokkinotrimithia, Nicosia, for registration, medical screening, and vulnerability assessments. The adjacent Asylum Examination Centre at Pournara may also conduct full asylum assessments.

Persons entering Cyprus regularly, a small portion of asylum applicants and those residing on other statuses, must apply for asylum at the Immigration Unit and are not referred to Pournara.

For applicants in prison or detention, applications are made at their location. In detention facilities, applications are received on-site. For those in prison or police holding cells wishing to apply, the Asylum and Immigration Unit (AIU) is notified to process the application at the facility.

Once lodged with the AIU, applications are registered in the common data system managed by the Asylum Service, and fingerprints are taken. An individual is considered an asylum seeker from the application date until the final decision, enjoying the rights of this status.

Who can apply for asylum?

If you fear persecution or serious threats to your life or freedom, you can seek international protection by applying for asylum in Cyprus. This applies if:

1. You fear persecution in your country due to race, religion, nationality, social group membership, or political opinion.
2. You fear serious harm in your country, such as:
– Death penalty or execution.
– Torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
– Threats from indiscriminate violence in armed conflicts.

If your application is accepted, you’ll receive a letter recognizing you as either a refugee or granting subsidiary protection.

When to apply

If you need asylum in Cyprus, submit your application with all family members immediately upon arrival. This applies whether you entered Cyprus without authorization or documents, or if you’re already in Cyprus and fear returning due to recent events in your home country. Apply for asylum upon arrival in Cyprus, regardless of your entry method or plans to move to another country under the Dublin Regulation.

When applying, fingerprints of you and all included family members will be taken, except for children under 14.

Dublin/admissibility procedure

Under the Refugee Law, individuals awaiting identification of the responsible Member State under the Dublin Regulation have the right to stay in the territory and access reception conditions. Asylum seekers returned to Cyprus under this regulation will have their refugee status determination process resumed from where it was halted. Since late 2014, Dublin returnees awaiting a final decision are generally not detained upon return. While there’s a possibility of detention for those with a final decision, it’s not commonly enforced.


Recent changes to Cyprus’s asylum procedure have led to the creation of the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) in June 2019. Following a negative asylum decision by the Asylum Service, an asylum seeker can appeal to the IPAC within 30 days, or 15 days for accelerated procedures. IPAC decisions can be further appealed to the Supreme Court within 14 days.

As of October 2020, the Asylum Service issues a combined asylum and returns decision. In regular cases, the returns decision is suspended upon appeal. For other decisions, an appeal doesn’t automatically suspend deportation, and a separate application to the IPAC is required to request stay during the appeal process.

The IPAC reviews both legal and factual aspects of asylum and detention cases, but only legal points in family reunification cases. Its scope in other Refugee Law areas is unclear, as no relevant cases have been presented.

If the IPAC upholds an appeal, it can either overturn the Asylum Service’s decision and direct a review or directly grant refugee status or subsidiary protection. While there’s no set timeline for IPAC decisions, they should be issued promptly. Appeals to the Supreme Court are limited to legal points and don’t suspend deportation.

Applicants are advised to use a registered lawyer for IPAC proceedings, as representing oneself significantly reduces the chances of a successful outcome.

For assistance or advice on obtaining political asylum in Cyprus, contact our asylum lawyers for a consultation via messenger or by mail or our contact form. We offer comprehensive support, including accompanying you to all authorities and providing expert advice throughout the procedure.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Asylum in Cyprus FAQ

How long does asylum process take in Cyprus?
A decision on your asylum application is typically made within six months of applying, although it can sometimes take longer.
What are the benefits of asylum seekers in Cyprus?
Asylum seekers are eligible for allowances for food, clothing, footwear, utilities, pocket money, and rent from the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, varying based on family size.
Are asylum seekers allowed to work in Cyprus?
Under the latest decision by the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, asylum seekers are permitted to work 9 months after submitting their asylum application.
Can you claim asylum in Cyprus?
If you've fled your country due to fear of persecution or serious threats to your life or freedom, consider applying for asylum in Cyprus for international protection.
How much does asylum seekers get paid in Cyprus?
The Deputy Minister stated that an asylum seeker in Cyprus receives €361 for basic needs and rent, compared to the €703 Minimum Guaranteed Income for a single Cypriot citizen in Nicosia.