Regular procedure


Country Report: Regular procedure Last updated: 11/04/23


Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

General (scope, time limits)

According to the law, the Asylum Service shall ensure that the examination procedure is concluded as soon as possible, without prejudice to an adequate and complete examination.[2] Furthermore, the Asylum Service shall ensure that the examination procedure is concluded within 6 months of the lodging of the application.[3] In instances where the Asylum Service is not able to issue a decision within six months, it is obliged to inform the applicant of the delay and, upon request of the applicant, provide information on the reasons for the delay and on the time-frame in which a decision on the application is expected.[4]

The six month time-frame can be extended for a period not exceeding a further nine months, where: (a) complex issues of fact and/or law are involved; (b) a large number of third-country nationals or stateless persons simultaneously apply for international protection, making it very difficult in practice to conclude the procedure within the six-month time limit; (c) where the delay can clearly be attributed to the failure of the applicant to comply with their obligations as provided for under the law.[5] By way of exception, the Asylum Service may, in duly justified circumstances, exceed the time limits laid down by a maximum of three months where necessary in order to ensure an adequate and complete examination of the application.[6]

The Head of the Asylum Service may postpone concluding the examination procedure where the Asylum Service cannot reasonably be expected to decide within the time limits laid down, due to an uncertain situation in the country of origin which is expected to be temporary. In such a case, the Asylum Service shall conduct reviews of the situation in that country of origin at least every six months; inform the applicants concerned within a reasonable time of the reasons for the postponement; and inform the European Commission within a reasonable time of the postponement of procedures for that country of origin.[7] Finally, the law states that in any event, the Asylum Service shall conclude the examination procedure within a maximum time limit of 21 months from the lodging of the application.[8]

In practice, the time required for the majority of decisions on asylum applications exceeds the six-month period, and in cases of well-founded applications, the average time taken for the issuance of a decision is approximately two-three years. It is not uncommon for well-founded cases to take up to three to four years before asylum seekers receive a first instance decision.[9]

Delays in issuing decisions do not lead to any consequences and the Asylum Service does not inform the asylum seeker of the delay as provided for in the law, unless the applicant specifically requests information on the delay. Even when such a request is submitted to the Asylum Service, the written response briefly mentions that the decision will be issued within a reasonable time, yet no specific time frame or reasons for the delay are provided to the applicant. In 2021 and 2022, the Cyprus Refugee Council challenged before the IPAC, the delays in issuing decisions on asylum applications in 2 two cases. During the court proceedings, the Asylum Service proceeded to issue decisions granting international protection in both cases, which led to the cases having to be withdrawn and the Court not issuing a decision on the issue of delays.

The Asylum Service issued a total of 15,193 decisions concerning 15,972 applicants for international protection in 2022, compared to 14,868 decisions concerning 15,993 applicants for international protection in 2021, and 4,637 decisions in 2020. Decisions are based on a recommendation issued either by Asylum Service caseworkers or EUAA caseworkers.

In recent years, the EUAA has been providing technical support to the Asylum Service in an effort to address the backlog and speed up the examination of asylum applications and in 2020, the Ministry of Interior also introduced measures specifically targeted at reducing the backlog and examination times of asylum applications, mainly by increasing the examiners. The result of these actions are evident in 2021 and 2022 as there has been a significant increase in the number of decisions issued; whereas, in 2020, due to COVID-19, interviews for the examination of asylum applications were suspended several times. In addition, with the closure of the Refugee Reviewing Authority, 432 cases additional cases (involving 665 persons) were transferred back to the Asylum Service and onto the backlog; to date, a significant number are still pending.[10]

In 2021 according to EUAA ‘Cyprus ramped up decision-making, with two and a half times more decisions taken than in 2020. Of the top four nationalities, the largest increase in absolute terms was for nationals of India and Bangladesh, recording almost 9 and 12 as many decisions, respectively, as in the previous year, followed by Pakistanis and Syrians.’ [11]

In 2020, the Asylum Examination Centre adjacent to ‘Pournara’ First Reception Centre initiated operations with the aim to examine asylum applications of newly arrived asylum seekers residing in Pournara during their stay in the Centre. The Examination Centre provides examination of asylum applications of asylum seekers residing in Pournara, as well as asylum seekers in the community. In 2020 priority was given to applicants from listed safe countries of origin, as well as newly arrived Syrian nationals registered in Pournara and Syrians living in the community. At the time, this measure had a positive impact on the backlog of pending asylum applications of Syrian nationals. Such attempts continued in 2021 and 2022, aiming at issuing decisions prior to the applicants’ exit from the Center but mainly focusing on nationalities included in the list of safe countries. However, due to the significant increases in asylum applications the impact is limited.

Overall, the backlog of pending cases has consistently increased since 2017, doubling from 2018 to 2019 and reaching 19,660 cases at the end of 2020. In 2021, for the first time in recent years, the backlog was slightly reduced, counting 16,994 pending cases at first instance, which concern 18,805 persons. However, in 2022 it increased sharply to 29,715 due to the increase in asylum applications but also the practice to not examine asylum applications from Syrian nationals from February onwards with very few exceptions.[12]

Backlog of pending cases: 2018-2022
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
8,545 17,171 19,660  16,994 29,715

Prioritised examination and fast-track processing

The Refugee Law includes a specific provision for the prioritised examination of applications, within the regular procedure, applicable where:[13]

  • the application is likely to be well-founded;
  • the applicant is vulnerable,[14] or in need of special procedural guarantees, in particular unaccompanied minors.

Although efforts are made to ensure such prioritisation is given especially to cases concerning vulnerable persons such as to victims of torture, violence or trafficking, it does not necessarily imply that other important safeguards are followed, such as the evaluation of their vulnerability and psychological condition and how this may affect their capability to respond to the questions of the interview (see section on Special Procedural Guarantees). In addition, these cases may start out as prioritised but there are often delays due to the heavy work-load of examiners handling vulnerable cases, lack of interpreters or requirements for other examinations to be concluded before a decision can be made, such as examinations of victims of torture by the Medical Board or of victims of trafficking by the Anti-Trafficking Department of the Police.

There have been concerted efforts with EUAA for ameliorate and shorten the examination of claims by vulnerable persons since 2017, through screening of applications, dedicated case workers, additional personnel. However the duration of examination in most cases remains long and exceeds 12 months. Notably, in 2020 EUAA deployed 3 vulnerability experts and 1 vulnerability assistant to Cyprus. The latter was still present as of 14 December 2020, as well as one vulnerability expert.[15] According to information provided by EUAA, vulnerability experts support and consult EUAA caseworkers during the first-instance asylum examination procedures and refer vulnerable applicants who have not been assessed as vulnerable during the registration phase to the competent authorities for further appropriate actions.

During 2021, 829 persons were identified as vulnerable during the registration of their asylum application. In addition, 162 applicants were assessed as vulnerable during their asylum interview phase and were referred to the competent authorities for further appropriate actions.[16] In Cyprus, the EUAA supports and coordinates vulnerability assessments in Pournara reception centre and  during 2022, 1,505 persons were identified as presenting vulnerability indicators by EUAA personnel.[17] In total, in 2022, 2,800 persons were identified as vulnerable during the registration of their asylum application.[18] However due to the heavy backlog very few cases receive a prioritised examination.[19]

In addition to the instances of prioritisation mentioned in the Refugee Law, the Asylum Service prioritises certain caseloads and examines them within the regular procedure and not the accelerated procedure, under two circumstances:

  • When the country of origin is deemed generally safe;[20]
  • If a conflict is taking place in the country of origin, such as for Iraqi nationals in the past and Syrian nationals until the end of 2021. For most of 2022, applications of Syrian nationals have not been examined.

As previously mentioned, in 2020, attempts were made to speed up the examination of cases of Syrians by utilising the newly established Asylum Examination Centre. Such efforts continued in 2021, however due to the rise in asylum applications the time frame to examine cases of Syrian nationals and Palestinians remains at 18-24 months if not longer.[21] In early 2022 and continuing in early 2023  there were indications that the Ministry of Interior has put on hold the examination of applications from Syrian nationals and even though the Ministry of Interior acknowledges that Syria is not considered a safe country and that returns to Syria cannot be made.[22] Indicatively 1,939 decisions were issue in 2021 for Syrian nationals, compared to 267 decisions in 2022.[23] The Ministry has attributed the low number of decisions to the backlog.[24]


Personal Interview

According to the law, all applicants, including each dependent adult, are granted the opportunity of a personal interview.[25] The personal interview on the substance of the application may be omitted in cases where:[26]

  • The Head of the Asylum Service is able to take a positive decision with regard to refugee status on the basis of already available evidence; or
  • the Asylum Service is of the opinion that the applicant is unfit or unable to be interviewed owing to enduring circumstances beyond his or her control. When in doubt, the Asylum Service shall consult a medical professional to establish whether the condition that makes the applicant unfit or unable to be interviewed is of a temporary or enduring nature.

In practice, all asylum seekers are interviewed. The waiting time for the interview has always been lengthy, with the majority of cases reaching 18-24 months after the lodging of the application. In recent years attempts have been made to prioritise cases of nationals from countries included in the safe list. However, due to the high numbers of new arrivals the results have been limited. Specifically, in 2020, attempts were made to interview newly arrived asylum seekers residing in Pournara during their stay in the Centre by using the adjacent Asylum Examination Centre. In such cases, the interview took place soon after the lodging of the asylum application and often close to the vulnerability assessment, with no access, or extremely limited access, to legal advice.[27] Attempts to issue decisions before applicants leave the Center continued in 2021 and 2022. However, this was not feasible for all due to the significant rise in numbers of applicants in Pournara.

Where simultaneous applications by a large number of third-country nationals or stateless persons make it impossible in practice for the determining authority to conduct timely interviews on the substance of each application by the Asylum Service, the Refugee Law allows the Ministerial Council to issue an order, published in the Gazette, providing that experts of another Member State who have been appointed by the EUAA or other related organisations are to be temporarily involved in conducting such interviews.[28] In such cases, the concerned personnel shall, in advance, receive the relevant training and shall have acquired general knowledge of problems which could adversely affect an applicant’s ability to be interviewed, such as indications that the applicant may have been tortured in the past.

This provision was triggered in 2017, enabling then EASO experts to conduct in-merit interviews between May 2017 and January 2018.[29] EASO presence has continued ever since.[30] The presence of EASO examiners initially sped up the examination of applications but due to the increasing number of applications it has not impacted the backlog. In 2020, the IPAC identified a time period where there was no Ministerial Decree in force authorising EASO to conduct interviews in the asylum procedures. As a result, the Court determined that all such decisions must be cancelled and re-examined. This resulted in the Asylum Service cancelling all negative decisions and informing asylum seekers that their applications would be re-examined and their status as asylum seekers had been reinstated. Positive decisions were not cancelled.

Interviews are carried out at the following locations: the offices of the Asylum Service, the newly established offices of the EUAA, the Asylum Examination Centre adjacent to ‘Pournara’ Centre, at AIU offices and, in cases of detainees, at the Menogia Detention Center. In early 2022, interviews were for the first time carried out in the Central Prison for asylum seekers serving prison sentences, due to the rise in numbers of such cases.[31] Regardless of the location of the interview, all interviews are carried out by Asylum Service officers, temporary agency workers or EASO experts.

In 2020, EASO carried out a total of 917 interviews, mainly of applicants from Cameroon, Egypt and Georgia.[32] In 2021, EASO carried out 1,674 interviews, of which 85% related to the top 10 citizenships of applicants interviewed by the EUAA, mainly applicants from Cameroon (280), Iran (234) and Nigeria (178).[33] In 2022, the EUAA carried out interviews for 2,107 applicants,[34] of which 90% related to the top 10 citizenships of applicants interviewed by the EUAA, mainly applicants from Cameroon (439), Democratic Republic of Congo (367), Pakistan (254) and Nigeria (253).[35] In 2022, the EUAA drafted 1,988 concluding remarks, of which 89% related to the top 10 citizenships of applicants in concluding remarks drafted by the EUAA, mainly concerning Cameroonians (419), Congolese (DRC) (287), Pakistanis (254) and Nigerians (253).[36]

Quality of interview

According to the law,[37] the Asylum Service shall take appropriate measures to ensure that personal interviews are conducted under conditions that allow the applicant to explain, in detail, the reasons for submitting the application for asylum. In order to do so the Asylum Service shall:

  • Ensure the competent officer who conducts the interview is sufficiently competent to take account of the personal or general circumstances surrounding the application, including the applicant’s cultural origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or vulnerability;
  • Wherever possible, provide for the interview with the applicant to be conducted by a person of the same sex if the applicant so requests, unless the Asylum Service has reason to believe that such a request is based on grounds which are not related to difficulties on the part of the applicant to present the grounds of his or her application in a comprehensive manner;
  • Select an interpreter who is able to ensure appropriate communication between the applicant and the competent officer who conducts the interview. The communication shall take place in the language preferred by the applicant unless there is another language which he or she understands and in which he or she is able to communicate clearly. Wherever possible, an interpreter of the same sex is provided if the applicant so requests, unless the Asylum Service has reasons to believe that such a request is based on grounds which are not related to difficulties on the part of the applicant to present the grounds of his or her application in a comprehensive manner;
  • Ensure that the person who conducts the interview on the substance of an application for international protection does not wear a military or law enforcement uniform;
  • Ensure that interviews with minors are conducted in a child-appropriate manner.

Furthermore, when conducting a personal interview, the Asylum Service shall ensure that the applicant is given an adequate opportunity to present elements needed to substantiate the application in accordance with the law as completely as possible.[38] This shall include the opportunity to give an explanation regarding elements which may be missing and/or any inconsistencies or contradictions in the applicant’s statements.[39]

In practice the quality of the interview, including the structure and the collection of data, differs substantially depending on the individual examiner.[40] The absence of Standard Operating Procedures and mechanisms for internal quality control to date contribute to the diverse approaches.

In 2020, due to measures taken to address COVID-19, interviews were at times conducted via video conferencing with the interviewer and interpreter being in another location than the asylum seeker. There were cases were the asylum seeker complained that other staff were going in and out of the room while the interview was taking place, which was distracting and affected the sense of confidentiality.[41] Interviews via video conference continued at the beginning of 2021. From then on, also due to the partial lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the use of video conference was discontinued.

As regards EUAA experts, cases are allocated according to expertise and a standardised interview structure is followed. Based on cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council in 2018, there were issues such as lack of expertise for complex cases,[42] however improvement was noted in 2019 and 2020. In 2021 and 2022, the Cyprus Refugee Council received reports of interviews lacking in terms of quality, including in cases of vulnerable persons or complex cases, such as applicants with a sexual orientation or gender identity related claim.[43] Specifically, in LGBTIQ+ cases it was noted that, although the examiners applied the Difference, Stigma, Shame, and Harm (DSSH) model,[44] they did so in a problematic way, such as using closed questions whereas the DSSH model is supposed to operate as a set of conversation ‘triggers’ ‘to enable a detailed narrative.[45]  Furthermore, there seems to be a lack of understanding regarding specific issues that might affect LGBTIQ+ persons outside of Europe. As a result, applicants were found to be non-credible including in cases where they were in the process of contracting civil partnership with their partner or had arrived in the country with their partner who was granted refugee status.[46]

The Law provides that the examiner[47] and the interpreter[48] can be of the same gender as the applicant, if they make such a request. In practice, if such a request is made (same gender or opposite gender) it is usually granted. However, due to absence of information and legal advice or representation (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance), most applicants do not know of this right in order to make such a request.



Caseworkers of the Asylum Service or the EUAA often conduct interviews in English, even if Greek is their mother tongue, and use interpretation where needed. This is because it is easier to identify interpreters that can speak the applicant’s language and English rather than Greek. However, this often affects the quality of interviews where the caseworker would arguably be more comfortable using Greek instead of English. The language barrier is often visible in the interview transcript and recommendation, which often have several grammar, spelling and syntax mistakes. As such, statements may be misunderstood or passages poorly drafted or unclear.[49]

Although interpreters are always present in interviews, they are rarely professional interpreters, often inadequately trained, and do not have to abide to a specific code of conduct.[50] Asylum seekers often complain about the quality of the interpretation as well as the impartiality/attitude of the interpreter, yet such complaints are seldom addressed by the Asylum Service.[51] During monitoring of interviews at the Asylum Service, it has been noted that although asylum seekers are asked by the interviewing officer whether they can understand the interpreter,  they may be reluctant to admit that there is an issue with comprehension and prefer to proceed with the interview as they feel they have no other choice or are unwilling to wait for a longer period of time (sometimes months) for another interview to be scheduled.[52] In addition, there have been cases where the applicant has complained about the interpreter regarding the quality of interpretation or attitude, and this has been perceived as a lack of cooperation on behalf of the applicant.[53]

In the case of interviews carried out by EUAA caseworkers, the interpreters are often provided under the EUAA Support Plan and may have been brought to Cyprus for this purpose. These interpreters have received training and follow Standard Operating Procedures, and the quality is in most cases evidently better.[54]

Recording and transcript

The Refugee Law permits audio/video recordings.[55] However, in practice only a verbatim transcript of the interview is drafted.

The law also foresees that the examiner must provide the applicant with an opportunity to make comments and/or provide clarifications orally and/or in writing with regard to any mistranslations or misconceptions appearing in the written report or in the text of the transcript, at the end of the personal interview or within a specified time frame before a decision is taken by the Head of the Asylum Service on the asylum application.[56] Furthermore, the legal representative/lawyer can intervene once the interview is concluded,[57] and this is the only stage at which corrections are permitted. However, in practice, the situation varies between examining officers, as some officers will allow such corrections and will only take into consideration the corrected statement, whereas others will allow for corrections but then consider the initial statement and the corrected statement to be contradictory and use this as evidence of lack of credibility on behalf of the applicant. In some cases, the officer does not accept any corrections at all. [58]

There are often complaints by asylum seekers that the transcript does not reflect their statements, which is attributed either to inadequate interpretation or to other problems with the examining officer, such as not being adequately trained. This is particularly the case for examination of case of vulnerable persons or sensitive issues, especially for cases of vulnerable persons that were not identified or examined by an examining officer trained to deal with such cases. Other complaints include examining officers not being impartial, having a problematic attitude, and not allowing corrections or clarifications on the asylum seeker’s statements.[59]

According to the law, before the decision is issued on the asylum application, the applicant and/or the legal advisor/lawyer has access either to the report of the personal interview, the text of the audio, and/or visual recording of the personal interview.[60] When the audio and/or visual recording of the personal interview is carried out, access is provided only if the applicant proceeds with a judicial review of the asylum application before the IPAC,[61] with the exception of applications examined under the accelerated procedure.

As audio/video recording is not used in practice, access to the report of the personal interview should be provided, prior to the issuance of the decision. According to the Asylum Service, such access is provided and applicants are informed of this right during the personal interview. However, very few applicants seem to be aware of this right and there is no evidence of anyone accessing this right.[62] Access entails reviewing the report, which is in Greek or sometimes in English, without translation/interpretation and without having a right to receive a copy of it, which may also contribute to applicants not being able to access this right. Furthermore, very few applicants have a legal advisor/lawyer at first instance, and even if they do, few lawyers are familiar with this right to access or will take the time to request access. However, in the rare cases where access is requested, it seems to be granted. [63]

Regarding asylum applications examined whilst in detention, the overall quality of the examination of the claim is not particularly affected by the fact that the applicant is in detention, as the examination, including the personal interview, is carried out by an officer/caseworker from the Asylum Service with the assistance of an interpreter. However, it is evident that the psychological state of individuals in detention is rarely taken into consideration during the interviewing process, including possible victims of torture, trafficking or violence. Interviews may be carried out at the offices of the Asylum Service, as with all asylum seekers or in a private room in Menogia Detention Centre by a caseworker of the Asylum Service. If detained in Menogia, the interview usually takes place within 1-2 months. However, if detained in holding cells in a police station, the interview is often delayed, with cases in 2020, 2021 and 2022 found to have reached 6 months with no interview.[64]

On account of the global escalation of COVID-19, interviews were suspended between March and May 2020 and at various other times throughout the year, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases. In 2021 and 2022, there were no extended periods of time during which examinations were suspended.



Appeal bodies

In order to ensure that asylum seekers in Cyprus have a right to an effective remedy against a negative decision before a judicial body on both facts and law in accordance with Article 46 of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, the relevant authorities modified the procedure. First, they abolished the RRA, a second level first-instance decision-making authority that examined recourses (appeals) on both facts and law, but was not a judicial body, and instead provided for a judicial review on both facts and law before the general Administrative Court. However, as the Administrative Court has jurisdiction to review all administrative decisions, the asylum decisions contributed to a heavy caseload.

Finally, a specialised court, the International Protection Administrative Court (IPAC) was established [65] and initiated its operations in June 2019. The IPAC is competent to examine appeals relating to provisions of the Refugee Law. The IPAC examines both facts and law for asylum applications. When the IPAC initiated operations in July 2019 the existing backlog from the Administrative Court – which at the time was estimated to be approximately 800 cases – was transferred onto the new Court, with the exception of cases that were at the final stages and pending the issuance of a decision.[66]

There were no statistics issued for 2019 and 2020, however there were indications that the IPAC was examining cases faster than the Administrative Court. Since 2021, as part of the support provided by the EUAA, the Court collects statistics. According to these, 3,680 decisions were issued for 2021. However, in 2021 the number of appeals registered also increased dramatically. A 420% increase in the backlog was recorded from January 2021, when 1,194 cases were pending, to December 2021, with 6,406 cases registered as pending, leading to the procedures becoming significantly slower. The top 5 nationalities registering an appeal in October were: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Cameroon, Nigeria.[67]

In 2022, regarding the IPAC’s regular procedure, 7,630 appeals were registered as part of the regular procedure and 7,975 decisions were issued, including rejections, positive decisions, implicit and explicit withdrawals. The top 5 nationalities registering an appeal were Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Nepal. An additional, 1,324 appeals were registered as part of the accelerated procedures and 797 decisions were issued, including rejections, positive decisions, implicit and explicit withdrawals; the majority of which were explicit withdrawals.  The top 5 nationalities registering an appeal under the accelerated procedures were Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. [68]

Since its establishment, the main challenges identified in relation to the IPAC have been the lack of comprehensive rules of procedures, infrastructure challenges, a lack of administrative and logistical support and the size of the backlog (consisting of rising new cases, the backlog from the Administrative Court and appeals against decisions by the Reviewing Authority).

The Court received support under the EUAA Support Plan 2020 in the form of two Member State experts, five seconded research officers, and one interim statistician as well as the possibility of additional training where needed.[69] According to EUAA, the support provided by the research officers has been rather fundamental, however the progress achieved has been limited given that the backlog has been on the increase, and might further increase because of recent law amendments and the unprocessed workload of the Refugee Reviewing Authority. Furthermore, EUAA support will continue and be increased in 2021 and will assist with expanding the structure and assuring tailored technical assistance (case management system, targeted trainings and country briefings among others) with the twin aim to consolidate the structure and process in the IPAC and to reduce the backlog.[70]

For 2022, according to EUAA the proposed line of cooperation regarding second instance determination will be focused on: a) backlog reduction; b) supporting the creation of efficient management workflows; c) administrative support, by assisting the administrative tasks of the IPAC and enhancing the procedural rules of the Court; d) coordination (with CAS and internal) and quality level, through supporting the development of quality control mechanisms and the overall coordination of deployed EUAA personnel.[71]

Throughout 2022 the above support was implemented however it had limited impact on the backlog that rose significantly, as well as on the time required to examine cases which has increased especially for complicated and well-founded cases. Furthermore, submitting the initial recourse/appeal or further submissions to the Court is extremely time-consuming, as everything must be submitted in person and not digitally, as is the case for other courts in Cyprus. Additionally, the staff of the IPAC Registrar that receives such submissions is not sufficient to address the numbers.

Information on the number and result of appeals in 2021 were provided by the IPAC, and are reported in the following table:

  Appeals in 2021 Refugee status Sub. Prot. Order to Review* Rejection Refugee rate Sub. Prot. rate Rejection rate
Total 8,983 9 0 2 2,593
Breakdown by countries of origin of the total numbers
Bangladesh 2,023 1 0 0 504 0.1% 0% 99.9%
India 1.975 1 0 0 653 0.1% 0% 99.9%
Pakistan 1,621 0 0 0 603 0% 0% 100%
Georgia 590 0 0 0 111 0% 0% 100%
Nigeria 432 0 0 0 65 0% 0% 100%
Egypt 400 0 0 0 141 0% 0% 100%
Nepal 391 0 0 1 98 0% 0% 100%
Sri Lanka 349 0 0 0 102 0% 0% 100%
Cameroon 327 0 0 0 28 0% 0% 100%
Vietnam 276 0 0 1 62 0% 0% 100%

Source: IPAC.

Information on the number and result of appeals in 2022 were provided by the IPAC, and are reported in the following table:

  Appeals in 2022



Refugee status Sub. Prot. Order to Review* Rejection Refugee rate Sub. Prot. rate Rejection rate
Total 17,630/1,324 7 1 12 4,150/70
Breakdown by countries of origin of the total numbers
Pakistan 1,968/ 316 0 0 0 667/20 0% 0% 100%
Bangladesh 1,462/ 465 0 0 0 1333/13 0% 0% 100%
India 955/ 205 0 0 0 781/11 0% 0% 100%
Nigeria 540/42 0 0 0 138/2 0% 0% 100%
Nepal 534/93 0 0 0 235/4 0% 0% 100%
Cameroon 352/12 1 1 0 67/0 0.1% 0.1% 99%
DRC 230/6 0 0 1 30/1 0% 0% 100%
Sri Lanka 196/55 0 0 0 5/1 0% 0% 100%
Vietnam 194/32 0 0 0 4/1 0% 0% 100%
Sierra Leone 177/5 0 0 1 18/0 0% 0%


Source: IPAC.

Rules and time limits

In 2020, the RoC amended the Cyprus Constitution and key legislation in order to reduce time limits to submit an appeal against a decision before the IPAC. Since 12 October 2020 appeal times are reduced from 75 days to 30 days for decisions issued in the regular procedure[72] and 15 days for the following decisions:[73]

  • A rejected application which has been examined in accordance with the accelerated procedure under section 12D of the Refugee Law,
  • A decision by which an application for refugee status and/or subsidiary protection status is certified as “unfounded”,
  • A decision to determine an asylum application as “inadmissible” in accordance with section 12B(fourth) [12Βτετράκις],
  • A decision which refers to section 9 of the Refugee Law relating to the grant, withdrawal or reduction of benefits foreseen in any of the provisions of the said Law,
  • A decision with is made under the provisions of section 9E (residence and movement) and 9JA(4)(b) [9ΙΑ(4)(β)] (place of residence) of the Refugee Law,
  • A decision made under section 16B (implicit withdrawal), 16C (explicit withdrawal), or section 16D(3)(d) (a subsequent application deemed “inadmissible”) of the Refugee Law,

Information on when and where to appeal is included in the first instance decision issued by the Asylum Service. Decisions issued by the RRA can also be appealed before the IPAC, which was also communicated in the negative decision issued by the RRA.

Following the amendments to the Refugee Law of October 2020, the Asylum Service currently issues a reject and return decisions in the same document. For cases examined under the regular procedure, a returns decision is automatically suspended once an appeal is submitted.[74] However, for appeals relating to cases examined in the accelerated procedure, subsequent applications, decisions that determine the asylum application unfounded or inadmissible, decisions related to explicit or implicit withdrawal, the appeal does not have automatic suspensive effect. A separate application must be submitted to the IPAC requesting the right to remain pending the examination of the appeal. This procedure was not provided for in the procedural rules and there was no available application form or given process aside from jurisprudence which holds that the right to remain must be requested within the given deadline for the submission of the appeal. In 2022 the new amended procedural rules provide that such an application must be submitted at the same time with the appeal, or at least, within the given deadline for the submission of the appeal which is 15 days.[75] It is not clear what the consequences of late submission would be and if it would lead to automatic rejection of the application. The Court’s procedural rules also now include the application form to be used for the right to remain which is an ex parte application.[76] However, there is no information provision at the IPAC regarding the need to submit the right to remain application alongside the appeal and although the requirement to make such an application is included in the first-instance decision issued by the Asylum Service applicants are not adequately informed.[77] Furthermore, the  form is not readily available  at the counter of the Registry of the IPAC, although according to the Court it can be obtained following request by the applicants.

All negative decisions issued by the IPAC can be appealed before the Supreme Court within 14 days. The onward appeal before the Supreme Court examines only points of law and does not have suspensive effect. Moreover, this remedy is not communicated in the decision that rejects the appeal before the IPAC.

When the IPAC accepts an appeal, the decision of the Asylum Service is cancelled. The Court may either return the decision to the Asylum Service to be reviewed or directly grant refugee status or subsidiary protection.[78]


For information on the procedure before the previous appeal body Refugee Reviewing Authority (RRA)

please refer to previous updates of the AIDA country report.[79]

The procedure before the IPAC is judicial. Asylum seekers can also submit an appeal without legal representation. The court fees to submit an appeal are €96 if the applicant submits it without a lawyer, whereas if the appeal is submitted by a lawyer the court fees are €137. Furthermore, if the appeal does not succeed, the decision will be issued with a cost order in most cases of app. 500 EUR which the applicant is expected to pay.  In the past these orders were rarely pursued however in 2022 there were a few reports of asylum seekers wanting to withdraw their appeals and return to their countries of origin and be requested to pay this amount, however there is no information on the extent this is actually pursued.[80]

Upon submitting the appeal and during court proceedings, applicants without legal representation rely heavily on court interpreters for assistance, including guidance for hearings and written submissions. As a result, the court interpreters fill the gap created by the lack of legal representation often leading to incorrect advice and guidance and in some instances raising questions of exploitation. In view of the sharp increase in appeals submitted in 2021 and onwards, the Court Registrar utilised the court interpreters to cope with the flow of applicants, so as to facilitate access. This, however, led to concerns on the information provided and on the possible exploitation of applicants by interpreters; reports were received from applicants being requested a payment from interpreters, when such costs are supposed to be covered by the Court or that an interpreter had advised them on the chances of success of the case.

The Refugee Law allows access, before an appeal decision is issued, to the interview transcript, assessment/recommendation, supporting documents, medical reports, and country of origin information (COI) that was used in support of the decision.[81] However, the vast majority of asylum seekers as well as legal advisors/representatives do not know of this right and/or do not exercise it. Access is also provided after rejection of the asylum application, which is mentioned briefly in the rejection letter. Again, the vast majority of asylum seekers and legal advisors/ representatives do not seem to be aware of this right or do not exercise it. Access consists of reviewing the file and taking notes about the documents before an administration officer of the Asylum Service; the copying or scanning of the documents is strictly prohibited. As documents are mostly in Greek, and some in English, such as COI reports, it is in fact impossible for an asylum seeker to effectively access their file as they will not be able to understand the content or take copies for someone to translate. From late 2022 onwards, a detailed reasoning of the decision is provided in cases of negative decisions, which is a positive development as it provides the applicant and legal advisors/lawyers with immediate access to the reasons the asylum application has been rejected. However, the reasoning is only provided in Greek or English.

The procedural rules followed by the IPAC were not considered sufficient, as they are extremely brief and, for the most part, refer to the procedural rules of the Administrative Court, which examines only points of law.[82] This entails important gaps concerning issues related to asylum claims such as examination of expert witnesses, examination of additional evidence or submissions of additional documents provided by the applicant during the procedures. EASO highlighted the need to invest in enhancing the case management system and procedural rules of the IPAC in the 2021 operating plan for Cyprus.[83] Throughout 2021, EASO and other experts continued discussions on the need for the procedures before the Court to be simplified and the procedural rules revised.[84] In the EUAA’s Operating Plan for 2022-2024, the enhancement of the procedural rules has been included as support provided to the Court.[85]

In 2022 the Regulations were amended in an attempt to address these issues; however, many remain unresolved and unclear such as:[86]

  • The procedure that needs to be followed when applicants wish to add evidence in support of their claims remains unclear, and especially in relation to the cross-examination by lawyers representing the state. The current procedure being followed is the procedure followed under civil procedure rules, however, given the administrative nature of the IPAC, in practice this often results in confusing and unclear procedures. For example, regarding the burden and standard of proof applied; the purpose of the cross-examination by the state lawyer – who is not considered a competent national officer to conduct asylum interviews; the conclusions to be drawn from such an examination in relation to the credibility of the applicant and more.
  • Regarding the introduction of the fast-track/accelerated procedure[87] the Attorney General has been completely removed from the procedure and the Asylum Service is obliged to send the facts and relevant case-file to the Court directly. Even though this simplifies the procedure significantly in theory, it is not clear whether the deadlines can be and are met by the Asylum Service that is already overburdened.
  • Rule 4 of the amended procedural rules obliges applicants to submit a proof of payment of any previous pending judicial cases before the IPAC, in the case of submitting a new appeal. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of the new appeal, without any further examination of the substance of the case. It is not clear whether applicants are adequately informed about this by the Court Registry when submitting a new appeal.
  • Rule 12 of the amended procedural rules oblige applicants to be present during the last hearing of their case and upon the announcement of the judge’s decision, regardless of whether they are being represented by a lawyer. There have been reports of applicants being arrested immediately after the rejection of their appeal by the IPAC, which effectively terminates their right to remain.

Following the global escalation of COVID-19, procedures before all national courts were suspended during the general lockdown (March-May 2020 and late January-February 2021) with the exception of urgent cases and/or cases with a deadline set by the Constitution, which includes all asylum related cases. During these periods, the Court Registrar of the IPAC received legal aid applications and appeals against asylum decisions and other related asylum cases (i.e., family reunification) but proceedings were suspended. Only proceedings on detention orders were considered urgent and were examined.


Legal assistance

Asylum seekers have a right to legal assistance throughout the asylum procedure, if they can cover the cost, as free legal assistance is not easily available. Pro bono work by lawyers was interpreted as prohibited under the Advocates Law up to 2018.[88] Since its amendment in 2018, the Advocates Law does not explicitly prevent pro bono work. However, the IPAC has resisted pro bono representation, especially for legal aid applications, considering them against the rules of conduct. In 2021, the Bar Association took steps to set up a scheme to provide pro bono legal advice to persons who do not have the financial means to contract the services of a lawyer however the scheme does not include assistance for cases eligible for legal aid. Furthermore, only persons receiving the Guaranteed minimum Income (GMI), a state benefit, are eligible for assistance on the scheme and asylum seekers are not eligible to the GMI.[89]

Legal information and assistance at first instance

For first instance examination, the Refugee Law mandates that the state ensures, upon request, and in any form the state so decides, that applicants are provided with legal and procedural information free of charge, including at least information on the procedure in light of the applicant’s particular circumstances and in case of rejection of the asylum application, information that explains the reasons for the decision and the possible remedies and deadlines.[90]

According to the law,[91] such information can be provided by:

  • Non-governmental organisations;
  • Professional public authorities, provided that they secure the consent of the state authorities;
  • Specialised government agencies, provided the consent of the specialised government agencies is secured (by the Head of the Asylum Service) state authorities;
  • Private lawyers or legal advisers;
  • Asylum Service officers who are not involved in processing applications.

The Head of the Asylum Service has the right to reject a request for free legal and procedural information provided that it is demonstrated the applicant has sufficient resources. They may require for any costs granted to be reimbursed wholly or partially if and when the applicant’s financial situation has improved considerably or if the decision to grant such costs was taken on the basis of false information supplied by the applicant. If the applicant refuses or fails to satisfy this requirement, the Head may take legal action to recover the relevant amount due as a civil debt to the RoC.[92]

In practice, free legal assistance available at first instance is extremely limited and dependent upon funded projects. Due to the lack of state-provided legal assistance, UNHCR has consistently funded the “Strengthening Asylum in Cyprus” project, implemented by the NGO Future Worlds Centre from 2006-2017 and by the Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC) since 2018.[93] Currently the CyRC is the only provider of free legal assistance. Furthermore, the project provides for three lawyers for all asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs) in the country and, therefore, concentrates on the provision of legal advice to as many persons as possible and legal representation only for selected cases (mostly precedent-setting cases). In 2020, approximately 400 persons received legal advice from the CyRC whereas over 19,000 asylum applications were pending. In 2021 approximately 500 persons received legal advice from the CyRC, a very limited number considering that over 16,000 asylum applications were pending. With the situation deteriorating further in 2022, as there are close to 30,000 applicants pending at first instance. CyRC provided legal advice to 500 persons.

Although legal assistance was included as a priority under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) at a national level, a relevant call for proposals has not been issued since the introduction of the AMIF.[94] The lack of legal assistance provided by the state, the lack of funding for non-state actors to provide such assistance combined with the overall lack of information provided on asylum procedures  (see section on Information for Asylum Seekers and Access to NGOs and UNHCR) leads to a major gap in the asylum procedures in Cyprus.

Regardless of the significant rise in the number of asylum applicants in recent years, there has been no indication that the state has taken steps to ensure the right to free legal and procedural information. The only reference to the provision of information is in the 2021 EASO operational plan for Cyprus and concerns only persons in the First Reception Centre, Pournara. From mid-2021 onwards, two (2) EUAA Information Providers were stationed at the ‘Pournara’ Centre, providing group sessions in the presence of interpreters. According to the EUAA, 408 information sessions were delivered in Cyprus and 1,021 counselling sessions were provided in Cyprus.[95] These include information on the registration process in the Reception Centre, as well as the asylum procedure and reception conditions. However, as the sessions are provided to persons while in Pournara, soon after they entered the country, and not throughout the lengthy asylum procedures, the majority of persons require information or further counselling at later stages.[96]

Asylum seekers reach NGOs (currently only CyRC) providing legal assistance primarily through word of mouth, especially since information to asylum seekers is often not available or outdated (see section on Information for Asylum Seekers and Access to NGOs and UNHCR) or via other NGOs that do not have legal assistance and refer asylum seekers to NGOs that do. Individual officers working in various departments of the government that come into contact with asylum seekers may refer them to NGOs to receive legal assistance, whereas asylum seekers residing in the reception centre may be referred by the staff. Asylum seekers in detention come into contact with NGOs again through other detainees and through NGOs monitoring visits to the detention centre.[97]

Legal assistance in appeals

Legal aid is offered by the state only at the judicial stage of the asylum application before the IPAC.[98] The application for legal aid is subject to a “means and merits” test.[99] Regarding the “means’ part of the test, an asylum seeker applying for legal aid must show that they do not have the means to pay for the services of a lawyer. This claim is examined by an officer of the Social Welfare Services who submits a report to the IPAC. In the majority of cases, asylum seekers are recognised not to have sufficient resources. However in 2022, legal aid was rejected based on the fact that the applicant was working and receiving a salary of around €750 per month which was considered adequate to contract the services of a lawyer.[100]

The “merits” part of the test is extremely difficult to satisfy. The applicant must show that the “the appeal has a real chance of success”, meaning they must convince the judge, without the assistance of a lawyer, that there is a possibility the Court may rule in their favour if it later examines the appeal. Additionally, in this process the state lawyer representing the Republic acts as an opponent and always submits reasons why the appeal does not have a real chance of success and why legal aid should not be provided, leading to an extremely unequal process. As a result, it is nearly impossible for a person with no legal background to satisfy this requirement. Since the extension of legal aid to the asylum procedure in 2010, very few applications for legal aid have been submitted and even less granted.[101]

Although the IPAC initiated operations in June 2019, statistics were not available for 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, the decisions of the IPAC, including legal aid decisions, were not published systematically on the online platforms CyLaw,[102] and Leginet[103] as is done by all other Courts in Cyprus. This has made it difficult to monitor the number of applications for legal aid and the success rate.  In 2021, with support from EASO the Court has set up a system to collect statistics. The Court stated that in 2021, 115 applications were submitted and 33 were approved, indicating an improvement compared to previous years.[104] Statistics also indicated that an additional 126 legal aid applications were submitted but these were not connected to a legal remedy to challenge either an asylum application or detention. However, it is not clear if this is due to the applicant not completing the application sufficiently or not attending the hearing for the legal aid application. Given the lack of adequate information provision and legal assistance, this raises questions on whether applicants have sufficient knowledge and information on the procedure and details that must be included in the application.

In 2022, there was an increase in the number of applications for legal aid as 225 applications were submitted and 208 decisions issued, however these include legal aid applications related to recourses/appeals challenging decisions on asylum applications as well as detention orders. Of the 208 decisions, 107 were rejected, 43 implicitly or explicitly withdrawn and 58 were positive (32 asylum cases, 18 detention orders).[105] However, considering that over 8,000 appeals were submitted before the IPAC in 2022 the number still remains low.

In 2019, the UN Committee against Torture (UNCAT) stated its concern that prospective recipients for legal aid must argue before a court to convince it about the prospects of success of their claim before being granted legal aid.[106] Moreover, the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Cyprus included a recommendation to ensure that asylum seekers have free legal aid during the examination of their application in first instance and from the assistance of a lawyer.[107]




[1] Number of persons whose asylum applications is pending. The number of pending cases is not available. 

[2] Article 13(5) Refugee Law.

[3] Article 13(6)(a) Refugee Law.

[4] Article 13(6)(b) Refugee Law.

[5] Article 13(7) and Article 16 Refugee Law.

[6] Article 13(8) Refugee Law.

[7] Article 13(9) Refugee Law.

[8] Article 13(10) Refugee Law.

[9] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[10] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[11] EUAA Annual Report 2022, p132, available at:

[12] Based on monthly statistics issued by the Cyprus Asylum Service

[13] Article 12E Refugee Law.

[14] Within the meaning of Article 9KΔ Refugee Law.

[15] Information provided by EASO, 26 February 2021.

[16] Information provided by EUAA, 28 February 2022.

[17] Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.

[18] Cyprus Asylum Service.

[19] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council and Caritas Cyprus

[20] Note that this is also a ground for using the accelerated procedure.

[21] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[22] Announcement of the Ministry of Interior, available at

[23] Based on official statistics issued by the Cyprus Asylum Service

[24] Based on official statistics issued by the Cyprus Asylum Service

[25] Article 13A(1) Refugee Law.

[26] Article 13A(2) Refugee Law.

[27] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[28] Article 13A(1A) Refugee Law.

[29] Ministerial Decree 187/2017 of 9 June 2017 pursuant to Article 13A(1A) of the Refugee Law, available at:

[30] Ministerial Decree 297/2019 pursuant to Article 13A(1A) of the Refugee Law available at

[31] The majority of asylum seekers sentenced to prison sentences have committed immigration related offences such as irregular entry/stay or have attempted to travel to other EU member states on forged travel documents or travel documents belonging to other persons.

[32] Information provided by EASO, 26 February 2021.

[33] Information provided by EUAA, 28 February 2022.

[34] Exceptionally for Cyprus, only the actual interviews with the adult members of the family were counted in 2022 (that is, minors whose asylum case would have been affected by such interviews are not included) and therefore figures may be slightly underestimated.

[35] Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.

[36] Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.

[37] Article 13A(9) Refugee Law.

[38] Article 16(2)(a) and Article 18(3)-(5) Refugee Law.

[39] Article 13A(10) Refugee Law.

[40] Based on review of cases between 2006-2018 by the Cyprus Refugee Council and previously the Humanitarian Affairs Unit of the Future Worlds Centre.

[41] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[42] See ECRE, The role of EASO operations in national systems: An analysis of the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Operations involving deployment of experts in asylum procedures at Member State level, 29 November 2019, available at:

[43] Based on cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[44] The DSSH model 2 was created in 2011 by United Kingdom barrister S. Chelvan. This model is referred to by the UNHCR in its Guidelines on international protection no 9. EASO has applied DSSH to its training materials since 2015 for claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

[45] Assessing the Refugee Claims of LGBTI People: Is the DSSH Model Useful for Determining Claims by Women for Asylum Based on Sexual Orientation? Jasmine Dawson* and Paula Gerber+, International Journal of Refugee Law, 2017, Vol 29, No 2, 292-322.

[46] Based on cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[47] Article 13A(9)(b) Refugee Law.

[48] Article 13A(9)(c) Refugee Law.

[49] Based on review of cases by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[50] KISA, Comments and observations for the forthcoming 52nd session of the UN Committee against Torture, April 2014, available at:, 39-40.

[51] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[52] Information from legal advisors of the Cyprus Refugee Council present at the interviews.

[53] Information based by on cases reviewed the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[54] Information based by on cases reviewed the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[55] Article 18(2A)(a)(i) Refugee Law.

[56] Article 18(2A)(a)(iii) Refugee Law.

[57] Article 18(1A) Refugee Law.

[58] Information based on cases reviewed by the Cyprus Refugee Council

[59] Information based on cases reviewed by the Cyprus Refugee Council

[60] Article 18(2B)(a) Refugee Law.

[61] Article 18(2B)(b) Refugee Law.

[62] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council and Caritas Cyprus.

[63] Information based on cases reviewed by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[64] Information based on cases reviewed by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

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

[66] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[67] EASO, Operating Plan, Cyprus 2022-2024, available at:

[68] Information provided by IPAC

[69] EASO Operating Plan 2020, available at:

[70] EASO Operating Plan 2021, available at:

[71] EASO, Operating Plan, Cyprus 2022-2024, available at:

[72] Article 12A(1) Law N. 73(I)/2018 on the establishment of the Administrative Court for International Protection. (IPAC Law).

[73] Article 12A(2) Law N. 73(I)/2018 on the establishment of the Administrative Court for International Protection. (IPAC Law).

[74] Article 8 (1A) Refugee Law.

[75] Rule 13 of International Protection Administrative Court Procedural Rules of 2019 (3/2019), as amended

[76] Form no. 4 annexed to the IPAC Procedural Rules of 2019

[77] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council

[78] Article 11 IPAC Law.

[79] AIDA, Country Report: Cyprus Update 2020, p38, available at:; AIDA, Country Report: Cyprus Update 2019, p34-37,

[80] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council

[81] Article 18(2B) and (7A) Refugee Law.

[82] International Protection Procedures on The Functioning of The Administrative Court Regulations Of 2019, available in Greek at:

[83] EASO Operating Plan 2021, available at:

[84] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[85] EASO, Operating Plan, Cyprus 2022-2024, available at:

[86] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[87] Rule 3 (ε),IPAC Regulations  

[88] Article 17(9) Advocates Law.

[89] Cyprus Bar Association, Announcement available at:; Alphanews, “Justice for All”: A step closer to legal aid for vulnerable groups available at:

[90] Article 18(7Γ)(a) Refugee Law.

[91] Article 18(7Γ)(c) Refugee Law.

[92] Article 18(7Γ)(d) and (e) Refugee Law.

[93] Available at:

[94] Ministry of Interior, European Funds, available at:

[95] EUAA, Asylum Report 2022,, 63.

[96] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council

[97] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council, based on visits to the detention centre.

[98] Article 6B(2) Legal Aid Law.

[99] Article 6B(2)(b)(bb) Legal Aid Law.

[100] Legal Aid Application No. NA 30/2022 

[101]  According to a search carried out on the Cylaw database, for 2010-2017, approximately 87 applications for legal aid submitted by asylum seekers were found, out of which 9 were granted.

[102] See

[103] Leginet is a subscription-based database for legislation, caselaw and secondary legislation, available at:

[104] Information provided by the IPAC following a request by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[105] Information provided by IPAC

[106] UNCAT, Concluding Observations on the Fifth Report of Cyprus, Committee against Torture, December 2019.

[107] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Cyprus, Twenty seventh session, April 2019.

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