According to the recently amended Refugee Law,1 an asylum application is addressed to the Asylum Service, a department of the Ministry of Interior, and made at the competent Aliens and Immigration Unit, that has no later than 3 working days after the application is made to register it and then must refer it immediately to the Asylum Service for examination. In cases where the applicant is in prison or detention, the application is made at the place of imprisonment or detention.2 If the application is made to authorities who may receive such applications but are not competent to register such application, then that authority shall ensure that the application is registered no later than 6 working days after the application is made.3 Furthermore, if a large number of simultaneous requests from third country nationals or stateless makes it very difficult in practice to meet the deadline for the registration of the application as mentioned above then these requests are registered no later than 10 working days after their submission.4
The law does not specify the time limits within which asylum seekers should make their application for asylum; it only specifies a time limit between making and lodging an application.5 According to the Refugee Law,6 applicants who have entered irregularly are not subjected to punishment solely due to their illegal entry or stay, as long as they present themselves to the authorities without undue delay and provide the reasons of illegal entry or stay. In practice the majority of persons entering or staying in the country irregularly will not be arrested when they present themselves to apply for asylum unless there is an outstanding arrest warrant or if they were in the country before and there is a re-entry ban, In limited cases persons may be arrested when they present themselves to apply due to their irregular entry or stay even if there is no arrest warrant or re-entry ban.
According to the Refugee Law,7 if an asylum seeker did not make an application for international protection as soon as possible, and without having a good reason for the delay, the accelerated procedure can be applied, yet in practice this is never implemented. The fact that an asylum application was not made the soonest possible by an asylum seeker who entered legally or illegally will often be taken into consideration during the substantial examination of the asylum application and as an indication of the applicant’s lack of credibility.
The applicant must lodge the application within 6 working days from the date the application was “made” at the place that it was made, provided that it is possible to do so within that period.8 If an application is not lodged within this period, then the applicant is considered to have implicitly withdrawn or abandoned his or her application.9 Finally, within 3 days from lodging the application, a confirmation that an application has been made must be provided.10
The amendment has not changed the practice and there is no distinction between making and lodging an application. As before, when persons present themselves to the Aliens and Immigration Unit, stating the intention to apply for asylum they are either permitted to immediately lodge the application or requested to return on another day. If permitted to immediately lodge the application, they are also provided with a confirmation on the same day that they have done so and have access to reception conditions with this confirmation. The Unit will also immediately register the application in the common asylum database which is managed by the Asylum Service. If persons are requested to return on another day, which can vary from 3 days to 1 week, to lodge the application, they are not provided with evidence that they have stated an intention to apply for asylum nor are they registered by the Unit in any way. During this time they do not have access to reception conditions or proof of their status in the country, however rarely are there reports of this leading to arrest.
All asylum applications are received by the Aliens and Immigration Unit, which is an office within the Police. One such office exists in each of the 5 districts in Cyprus (Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaka, Paphos, Ammochostos). For persons in detention, their asylum applications are received directly within the detention facilities, whereas for persons in prison who have requested to lodge an asylum application, the Aliens and Immigration Unit will be notified and will send one of their police officers to receive the asylum application. In the past, this led to delays but in the past year there has been sufficient improvement.11
According to the amended Law fingerprints should be taken when an application is made.12 However, in practice fingerprints are taken by the Aliens and Immigration Unit when an application is lodged. Fingerprints are taken of the applicant and all dependents aged 14 and over.
- 1. Article 11(1) Refugee Law.
- 2. Article 11(2)(a) Refugee Law.
- 3. Article 11(2)(b) Refugee Law.
- 4. Article 11(2)(c) Refugee Law.
- 5. Article 11(4)(a) Refugee Law.
- 6. Article 7 Refugee Law.
- 7. Article 12Δ(4)(i) Refugee Law.
- 8. Article 11(4)(a) Refugee Law.
- 9. Article 11(4)(c) Refugee Law.
- 10. Article 8(1)(b) Refugee Law.
- 11. Based on information provided to the FWC on asylum seekers who applied for asylum while in prison.
- 12. Article11A Refugee Law.