Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 30/11/20


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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 regardless if they qualify individually as refugees, leaving family members, including underaged children, without status and full access to rights. The CRMD instructs all beneficiaries of international protection (recognised refugees and subsidiary protection) to proceed to the Asylum Service to receive a decision on whether they should receive the status of the beneficiary, The Asylum Service has taken steps to address the situation but it is still not clear if the CRMD will proceed with the issuance of residence permits. At the time of publication, the issue remained 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. At the end of 2017, two cases were identified where beneficiaries of subsidiary protection were notified by the authorities that due to the submission of an appeal before the RRA, against the decision that rejected their application for refugee status, the decision granting them subsidiary protection is suspended and they are asylum seekers until a decision on the appeal is issued. In one case the beneficiary was granted subsidiary protection in 2014 and was notified of the suspension of the status in 2017 and requested to return state benefits he had received as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection.[4] Additional cases were reported in 2018 but no cases in 2019. However, as of July 2019 the RRA has ceased to receive new cases and therefore the issue is now resolved, except for those cases that are still pending before the RRA.


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.[5]


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. In Nicosia, an application is submitted on the same day however at times the person will be asked to return within one week for their photo and digital signature to be taken. In other cities the practice varies but with no substantial delays.


However, from the submission of the application for the residence permit, four-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 all rights. The remaining issues during this period is the refusal of commercial banks to open bank accounts until the actual permit is issued, which in turn may affect access to state benefits as a bank account is required in order to submit the application for benefits.[6] There have been exceptions whereby one commercial bank opened an account with the receipt that the application for the permit has been submitted. It also poses obstacles in accessing health services in view of the implementation of the new Health System in Cyprus (GESY).


[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] Based on information from the representation of the cases by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

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

[6] Ombudsman, Έκθεση της Αρχής Κατά των Διακρίσεων αναφορικά με την πρόσβαση σε τραπεζικές υπηρεσίες ευάλωτων ομάδων υπηκόων τρίτων χωρών, 42/2016, 31 January 2017, available in Greek at:


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