Citizenship can only be acquired by decent and not by being born on territory. Citizenship can be applied for and the decision to grant citizenship is issued by the Minister of interior. The requirements for applying for naturalisation under the Civil Registry Law are as follows:
- Five or seven consecutive years of residence, and uninterrupted stay in Cyprus during the last twelve months (e.g., holiday). The required residence period depends on the status of residency and beneficiaries of international protection fall under the category that requires five years;
- Three guarantors who are of all Cypriot nationality;
- Clear criminal record.
In practice, the application is submitted to the CRMD with a submission fee of €500. Until 2016, applications took on average six to seven years to be examined and nearly no beneficiaries of international protection were granted citizenship. In 2015 and 2016, measures were taken to go through the backlog, with the intention of speeding up the process. Currently an application takes two to three years to be examined. An oral interview is carried out and a recommendation is drafted by the examining officer which is then referred to the Minister of Interior who has the final decision to reject or grant citizenship.
Naturalisation for BIPS has always been problematic, as the procedures are extremely slow and lack transparency, furthermore BIPs are not facilitated in any way other than being able to apply after completing 5 years instead of 7 years of stay as is the case for other TCN. Furthermore, children are not naturalised when born in the country, under any circumstances, which limits access further. In 2015 and 2016, a significant rise in the number of BIPs receiving citizenship was registered, with an estimated 50 persons receiving in 2015 and 20-30 persons in 2016. However, this trend did not continue with lower numbers of BIPS granted citizenship in following years. In 2021, 11 BIPs were granted citizenship and in 2022, a slight rise was noted with 27 BIPs granted.
It was also noted that although the requirements for nationality do not include financial criteria, an applicant’s financial situation is a primary consideration. Also, if the person is a recipient of state benefits, including persons with special needs, disabilities, and survivors of torture and trafficking etc, they will most probably be rejected. In the decision it is cited that they are a ‘burden on the state’. In 2021 and early 2022 a rise in the rejection rates regarding applications for nationality by holders of international protection – all persons living in the country for periods of well over 10 years – was noted. Such cases included young adults that were born or grew up in Cyprus, completed public school, speak fluent Greek and are studying in University; in these cases, the motivation for rejection referred to the fact that their parents had or were receiving state support, even if the applicants involved were not. Furthermore, single persons were rejected, and the justification mentioned the fact that they had no sufficient ties to the country as they had not formed families. In other cases, the applicant was found to be of non-good character, although they had submitted a clean criminal record as required and the finding of non-good character was based on reports supposedly provided by the Central Intelligence Service but with no evidence to support this and no access to such reports. Some of these cases have been appealed before Court and are currently pending.
According to the Law, in cases of children born in Cyprus where one parent is Cypriot and the other is non-Cypriot, but entered or remained in Cyprus irregularly, the child does not acquire nationality unless the Ministerial Council orders otherwise. Until recently, this was only applied to Cypriot nationals who reside in the areas not under the effective control of the RoC and are married and/or have children with Turkish nationals who have settled in Cyprus after the 1974 war, and whose entry and residence in Cyprus is considered to be illegal. However, in recent years this has been applied to children of Cypriot nationals living in the areas under the effective control of the RoC who are married to third country nationals, including asylum seekers or international protection holders who may had entered irregularly when they first arrived or at some point stayed irregularly. The procedure for the examination of applications by the Council of Ministers to enable the registration of such children as Cypriot nationals is very lengthy and decisions often remain pending for years. In cases where the third country national cannot pass on their own nationality the child will be stateless until the Ministerial decision granting Cypriot nationality.
 The backlog was estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000 applications.
 Based on information from beneficiaries/cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.
 Information provided by cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.