Residence permit

Cyprus

Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 16/04/21

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 According to the Refugee Law,[1] recognised refugees are granted, as soon as possible, a residence permit valid for three years. The permit is renewable for three-year periods only, and there is no possibility for this permit to be issued for longer periods. The law also allows for the residence permit to family members of beneficiaries of refugee status that do not qualify individually as refugees, to be valid for less than three years renewable, however in practice this limitation was rarely applied.

In 2019, the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) ceased issuing residence permits for family members including spouses, underaged children, children who came of age as refugees in Cyprus regardless of the years they had already been in the country. This left them without status and full access to rights. Throughout 2020 and continuing in 2021, the CRMD instructs in such cases the beneficiaries of international protection (recognised refugees and subsidiary protection) to proceed to the Asylum Service to receive a decision on whether the family members should receive the status of the beneficiary. The Asylum Service has set up a procedure by which they assess the protection needs of family members and if it is decided that there are protection needs a new decision is issued granting international protection which includes the names of the family members. However, in practice such decisions have been issued only for minor children of beneficiaries of protection and not for spouses or adult children, leaving them without status, residence permits, and access to rights. This has led to persons who have been living for many years in the country to lose their employment and other rights. According to the CRMD, spouses will receive a humanitarian status without defining if they will have access to rights; humanitarian status as it currently stands provides a right to remain but no access to rights (exceptionally the right to labour may provided). At the time of publication, the issue remains unresolved.[2]

In the case of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status and their family members, the law states that a renewable residence permit valid for one year is issued as soon as possible after international protection has been granted.[3] This permit is renewable for two-year periods for the duration of the status. Again, there is no possibility for such permits to be renewed for longer periods. The issues mentioned above regarding family members also apply for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, however as most are Syrian nationals the family members will be granted protection on their own right. The cases that are affected by this policy are mixed marriages of Syrians with third country nationals where again the CRMD refuses to provide a status with rights.

According to the Refugee Law, residence permits for both refuges and subsidiary protection beneficiaries provide the right to remain only in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), therefore excluding beneficiaries from the right to remain or even visit areas in the north of the island that are not under the control of the RoC.[4]

In practice, delays are systematically encountered in the issuance and renewal of residence permits for both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Specifically, a person, once granted international protection or in the case of renewal, will approach the responsible authority in order to apply for a residence permit. From the submission of the application for the residence permit, four to five months will often elapse until the permit is issued. During this period, and as a result of advocacy interventions from NGOs and UNHCR, the receipt that is given when the application for the permit is submitted, is accepted to access certain rights. However, there are rights that cannot be accessed or are problematic to access such as access to the health system and opening of bank accounts which also impacts employment as employers request a bank account to transfer salaries and may refuse to hire or proceed to terminate employment. During 2020, there were further delays due to Covid-19, however in early 2021, there were indications that the issuance of residence permits is speeding up.[5]

 

 

[1]           Article 18A Refugee Law.

[2]           Based on information from the representation of beneficiaries of International Protection by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[3]           Article 19(4) Refugee Law.

[4]           Articles 18A and 19(4) Refugee Law.

[5]           Based on information from beneficiaries/cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

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