Short overview of the asylum procedure


Country Report: Short overview of the asylum procedure Last updated: 11/04/23


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A high percentage of asylum seekers enter Cyprus from the areas not controlled by the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), at the north of the island, and then cross the “green line” irregularly to the areas under the control of the RoC. Whereas a small percentage may enter at legal entry points and then apply for asylum. In recent years, around 30% of applicants are persons already in the country who have entered and stayed under other statuses and who apply for asylum after their initial residence permit has expired.[1] In 2021 there was an increase in the percentage of new arrivals compared to applicants who were already in the country and the trend continued in 2022.

The asylum procedure in Cyprus is a single procedure whereby both refugee status and subsidiary protection status is examined. In accordance with the Refugee Law, an asylum application is addressed to the Asylum Service and is made and lodged at the Aliens and Immigration Unit (Department of the Police) of the city in which the applicant is residing.[2] One such office exists in each of the five districts in Cyprus (Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Ammochostos). With the establishment of Pournara, the First Reception Centre in Kokkinotrimithia, Nicosia district, persons who have recently arrived in the areas under the effective control of the RoC in an irregular manner are referred to the Centre for registration. The services provided include identification, registration, and lodging of asylum applications, as well as medical screening and vulnerability assessments; when possible, the full assessment of the asylum application is also carried out at the Asylum Examination Centre adjacent Pournara.

Other persons who access the country’s territory in a regular manner, – a very low percentage of asylum applicants as well as persons already residing in the country on other statuses – must apply at the Immigration Unit and will not be referred to Pournara.

In cases where the applicant is in prison or detention, the application is made at the place of imprisonment or detention. For people in detention, asylum applications are received directly within the detention facilities, while for people in prison or detained in Police Holding Cells, who have requested to lodge an asylum application, the AIU will be notified and proceed to the prison or holding cell to receive the asylum application.

Once an application is lodged before the AIU, it is registered in the common data system, managed by the Asylum Service, and fingerprints are taken. A person is considered an asylum seeker from the day the asylum application is lodged up to the issuance of the final decision and enjoys the rights associated with the asylum seeker status.

Specifically, the following procedures exist:

Regular and accelerated procedure: The Refugee Law provides for a regular procedure and an accelerated procedure. The decision issued by the Asylum Service can lead to refugee status, subsidiary protection status, or a rejection. As a result of the amendments to the Refugee Law entered into force October 2020, the Asylum Service currently issues a single negative and returns decision. Until the April 2014 amendment to the Refugee Law, the Asylum Service could also grant humanitarian status, but the examination and granting of this status has been moved to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD).

The Asylum Service is responsible for both the regular and accelerated procedures. The accelerated procedure has a specific time limit for the issuance of the decision and shorter time limits for the submission of an appeal. In practice, the accelerated procedure was never used for years until it was piloted in late 2019 for persons of Georgian nationality with the intention of a wider adoption in 2020.[3] In May 2020, 21 countries were added to the ‘Safe Country’ list.[4] In May 2021, the list of safe countries of origin was once again modified, to include a total of 29.[5] Regardless of these changes,  there was  no significant increase in the use of accelerated procedures until  late 2022 [6] and asylum applications from countries considered safe or countries facing a humanitarian crisis were mostly  prioritised through a fast-track procedure. From September 2022 onwards, the use of accelerated procedures has increased, focusing mostly on nationalities such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and to a lesser extent Nigeria.

Dublin/admissibility procedure: According to the Refugee Law,[7] during the procedure to identify the Member State responsible under the Dublin Regulation, a person has a right to remain on the territory and has access to reception conditions. Regarding asylum seekers returned to Cyprus under the Dublin Regulation, if the refugee status determination procedure was not concluded, it will resume from the stage it was paused. The current practice since the end of 2014 indicates that Dublin returnees whose final decision is pending are not detained upon return. For Dublin returnees who have a final decision, there is a possibility of detention upon return but this does not seem to be applied in practice.[8]

Admissibility of a subsequent application/new elements: When a rejected asylum seeker submits a subsequent application or new elements to the initial claim, the Asylum Service examines the admissibility of such an application or elements. During the admissibility procedure the person does not have access to reception conditions.

Appeals: In order to ensure that asylum seekers in Cyprus have a right to an effective remedy, in recent years the asylum procedure was modified regarding appeals.[9] After several changes, a specialised court, the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) was established and initiated its operations in June 2019. [10] Following a negative decision on the asylum application by the Asylum Service, an asylum seeker has the right to submit an appeal before the IPAC within 30 calendar days and 15 calendar days for accelerated procedures.[11] All decisions issued by the IPAC can be appealed before the Supreme Court within 14 days.[12]

Since the amendments of October 2020, the Asylum Service issues a single asylum and returns decision. For cases examined under the regular procedure, the returns decision is automatically suspended once an appeal is submitted. However, for all other decisions, an appeal does not have automatic suspensive effect and a separate application must be submitted to the IPAC requesting the right to remain pending the examination of the appeal.[13]

The IPAC examines both points of law and fact for asylum applications and detention cases. In cases of family reunification, the Court considered that it only has jurisdiction to examine points of Law and not substance. For cases relating to other areas of the Refugee Law it has yet to be clarified whether the Court examines points of law and fact, as no cases have been brought before the court.

If the IPAC accepts the appeal, the decision of the Asylum Service will be cancelled. According to the Law, the Court may return the decision to the Asylum service for review, or directly grant refugee status or subsidiary protection.[14]

There is no specific time limit set for the issuance of a decision, but the law provides that a decision must be issued as soon as possible.[15] The onward appeal before the Supreme Court examines only points of law and does not have suspensive effect.

The procedure before the IPAC is judicial and applicants are encouraged to enlist the services of a registered lawyer to represent them before the Court. It is possible to appear without legal representation, but the chances of succeeding become extremely limited in such cases.




[1] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[2] Article 11, Refugee Law.

[3] EASO Operating Plan 2020, accessible at:

[4] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[5] Ministerial Decision on Safe Countries, available in Greek at:

[6] Based on cases reviewed by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[7] Article 9(1)(B) Refugee Law.

[8] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[9] Information on the procedures prior to establishment of the IPAC can be found in previous updates of AIDA Country Report: Cyprus, 2020 update.

[10] Law N. 73(I)/2018 on the establishment of the Administrative Court for International Protection.

[11] Article 12A, Law N. 73(I)/2018 on the establishment of the Administrative Court for International Protection.

[12] Administrative recourse under Article 146(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. This provision provides as follows: “the Supreme Constitutional Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to rule on any appeal against a decision by the Administrative Court which has exclusive jurisdiction to decide at first instance on any action condition being a decision, measure or any organ failure, authority or person exercising any executive or of the administration of on-the because this is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution or of any law or is made in excess or in abuse of powers vested in such organ or authority or person.”

[13] Article 8 Refugee Law.

[14] Article 11 IPAC Law.

[15] Article 31Γ(5)Refugee Law.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation