Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions


Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 09/05/24


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During the administrative and judicial instance of the procedure, asylum seekers have the right to access material reception conditions. Specifically, according to national legislation, asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions as follows:

Regular and accelerated procedure: Asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions from the making of the application up to the issuance of a decision by the IPAC.

Dublin procedure: During the procedure to identify the Member State responsible, a person is considered an asylum seeker.[1] Thus, if a person arrives in Cyprus and there is a possibility that another Member State is responsible, they enjoy all the rights as an asylum seeker including material reception conditions. Regarding asylum seekers returned to Cyprus under the Dublin Regulation, if their asylum case is still under examination, they will be entitled to material reception conditions. If their asylum application has been determined upon, they are not entitled to reception conditions and may be detained.

Appeals: Appeals submitted before the IPAC for decisions issued in the regular procedure have suspensive effect and provide access to reception conditions until the issuance of the IPAC’s decision. An appeal for decisions issued in the accelerated procedure; subsequent applications; decisions that determine the asylum application unfounded or inadmissible; and decisions related to explicit or implicit withdrawal do not have suspensive effect and a separate application must be submitted before the IPAC requesting the right to remain.[2]

Subsequent application: Until recently, once a subsequent application was submitted the applicant had the right to remain and access reception conditions during the examination of the admissibility of the application.[3] However, following a 2022 decision issued by the Supreme Court, once a subsequent application is submitted, the applicant is not considered an asylum seeker, and until the administrative examination of the subsequent application, the discretion to examine the applicant’s right to remain in the Republic, belongs to the Head of the Asylum Service.[4] In practice, no applicants have received the right to remain and access to reception conditions during the administrative examination of a subsequent application.[5]

According to the Refugee Law,[6] when an application for asylum is made, the AIU refers the applicant to the district SWS. The applicant has a right to apply for the provision of material reception conditions upon presenting a confirmation that the application has been made.[7] However, the law[8] also provides that this confirmation is provided three days after the application is actually lodged. Furthermore, the Law allows for six days to elapse between making and lodging an application.[9] The transposition of the recast Reception Conditions and Asylum Procedures Directives into the Refugee Law is problematic with regard to the distinction between “making” and “lodging” an application and, as a result, the time upon which access to reception conditions is actually provided.

In practice and since 2019, all persons wishing to apply for asylum who entered the country in an irregular manner, which are the majority of applicants, are referred to the Pournara First Reception Centre for registration, the lodging of asylum applications, and medical and vulnerability screenings. Since the registration of asylum seekers takes place at Pournara, access to reception conditions is directly impacted by the possibility of persons to access Pournara. During 2020 and 2021 access to Pournara to register asylum applications was problematic.[10] In early 2022, it was reported that every day on average 40-50 persons were not admitted for registration, and were forced to keep returning every morning until given access.[11] In late 2022, the situation remained the same and, due to the high number of arrivals, it was decided to admit a maximum of 60 persons per day to keep the numbers of persons in the Centre under control. As a result, approximately 40 persons were denied admission each day, leading to some persons entering the Centre irregularly in order to find shelter and others sleeping outdoors in front of the registration gate in the hopes of securing a position in the queue the following day. Several makeshift tents and shelters appear at times around the centre, mostly inhabited by persons awaiting registration. Persons with a passport or some form of identification document are systematically given access faster.

In 2023, the number of arrivals decreased which led to a significant improvement in access to the Centre, with most persons accessing upon arrival, however there still are instances where persons who do not present passports are denied entry by the AIU for 2-3 days.

Access to reception conditions is provided at the Centre and in 2023, the average duration of stay was 30-40 days for adults and 80 days for UASC. Persons and families with vulnerabilities, as well as large families also face delays in exiting due to the obstacles in securing housing. Upon exiting the Centre, asylum seekers will have access to reception conditions in the community or in the Reception Centres (Kofinou, UASC shelters), whereas a limited number of persons are moved to the Reception/Pre-Removal Center, Limnes. As there is limited capacity at Kofinou Reception Center the majority of asylum seekers live in the community. For persons who arrive in a regular manner and who will register their asylum application at the AIU, they can apply for material reception conditions (MRC) at the District Social Welfare Offices upon concluding registration.[12]

In order to access MRC, an application must be submitted to the Social Welfare Services (SWS). The application can be submitted with the Confirmation letter, however the SWS require the applicant to submit in the application the number on the Aliens Registration Certificate (ARC) to be entitled to all reception conditions (food/clothing allowances, personal expenses, rent).

Until recently, asylum seekers registered in Pournara could only apply for MRC once they had exited the Centre, which led to delays until they received financial assistance. Furthermore, asylum seekers do not have freedom of movement while staying in Pournara, which they can only exit upon presenting a valid address in the community. This means that asylum seekers are not able to easily search for accommodation and are not provided with assistance from State or non-State agencies in this respect. This has led to a significant increase in exploitation and scams from persons in the community toward asylum seekers. In August 2022, the SWS with the assistance of UNHCR and CyRC assisted the Social Welfare Services to pilot a new procedure where asylum seekers submit an application for MRC before exiting the Centre. This led to the procedure being established in Pournara, however due to staffing and organisational issues not all persons are given access to this procedure and persons still exit the centre without applying for MRC. In 2023, even with the decrease in the number of arrivals, persons reported exiting without applying for MRC and stated they did not know that they could apply prior to exiting.[13]

Applying for MRC while in Pournara has led to a faster examination of applications for MRC.[14] However, persons do not receive any assistance upon exiting the Centre and will receive, within approximately 2 weeks, the first payment in cash and the first cheque in about 2 months. The SWS will schedule a visit at their place of residence in order to verify their address and if they are not found living there, the MRC will be terminated or suspended until they present a new valid address, which in many cases applicants are not able to do.

For persons who have exited without applying or who were not in Pournara they have to make an appointment to submit an application for MRC, which usually takes 1-2 weeks. However, upon submitting the application they are requested to present a valid address which is proved either by showing a rental agreement or confirmation by the municipality authorities, which again in many cases, they are not able to do. As a result they are excluded from MRC.

Overall, delays in the examination of the application and granting of financial assistance are still observed. Currently, the average processing time of applications for material reception conditions at the SWS is approximately 2-3 months, depending on the district.[15] This is due to various administrative difficulties, including: staff shortages; demanding paperwork and requirements for documentation to be gathered and submitted by beneficiaries; and difficulties experienced by the applicants in physically reaching and meeting with Welfare Officers. Furthermore, if an application for material assistance is submitted with an address confirmation issued by the municipality authorities and not a rental agreement, applicants will not receive rent allowances and the foreseen amounts for bills and daily expenses will also be deducted.

The revised application for MRC is available in English, Greek, Somali, Kurdish, Farsi and Arabic and it collects basic information for the applicant and the household members as well as information on spoken languages and the need for a translator. The Social Welfare Services will not accept the application, unless a copy of the confirmation of submission of application for asylum, a copy of the Alien Registration number (ARC) and – if more than 9 months since the date of the application for asylum has passed – a confirmation of registration with the Labour Office as unemployed is required.

Regarding the criteria to access MRC, from 2016 until 2022, the criteria and level of MRC were not included in the Law or in a Ministerial decision but only in the application used in practice for MRC.[16] In 2022, a new Ministerial Decision which determines the criteria and level of MRC was issued,[17] as well as a new application form.[18] According to the new Ministerial Decision, to become a beneficiary of MRC the person must be an applicant for international protection, for whom MRC cannot be covered in Reception and/or Accommodation Centres, who lives in the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus and both the applicant and their family members meet the following conditions:

  • No member of the applicant’s family is employed.
  • In the event that the applicant or any member of their family is employed, the family may continue to receive assistance as long as the monthly income is less than the total amount of assistance to which the family is entitled.
  • According to the Decree of the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, dated 29/09/2023,[19] applicants of international protection have the right to access the labour market after nine months from the date of submission of the application for international protection. Once applicants acquire the right to work, they should:

(a) be registered as unemployed in the Register of the Public Employment Service;

(b) accept work in specific sectors that have been determined, based on the Decree of the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance.

(c) participate, if invited, in professional training programs and/or educational courses, and Greek language classes

(d) accept the provision of personalized approach services by qualified employment advisers of the Public Employment Service;

(e) accept meetings and visits to their place of residence for on-site evaluation of their situation by the competent Social Welfare Officers regarding the planning of activities for their vocational and counselling guidance, psychosocial support and social reintegration;

The Ministerial Decision also states that applicants for international protection who have disabilities, are unable to work or are over 63 years of age, do not have the obligation to register with the Public Employment Service (Labour Office).

Regarding family members the Ministerial Decision states that for the purposes of examining an application for MRC, the status of an applicant for international protection is also held by the applicant’s family members who reside with them, regardless of whether they are included in the applicant’s application for international protection or whether they have submitted a separate application for international protection. Family members means any of the following members of the applicant’s family unit who reside in the government controlled areas:

a) The applicant’s spouse or partner, with whom the applicant lives and shares a residence for accommodation purposes.

b) the minor and unmarried children either of the applicant, or of the applicant and his/her spouse or according to paragraph (a) of his/her partner.

  1. Unmarried children still attending school.
  2. Unmarried children who have reached the age of eighteen (18) and are searching for employment even if they submitted a separate application for international protection.
  3. Unmarried children between eighteen (18) and twenty-three (23) years of age, as long as they receive regular education.

There are no particular provisions about asylum seekers having resources already upon requesting material reception conditions. However, there are incidences reported in relation to resources that lead to termination of the benefit of material reception conditions (see Reduction of withdrawal of receptions conditions).




[1] Article 11(B)(2) Refugee Law.

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

[3] 16Δ (4)(a), Refugee Law.

[4] Appeal against the decision of the Administrative Court No. 8/2022, Sohel Madber v. Republic of Cyprus, 17 November 2022, available in Greek at:

[5] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[6] Article 9IA(3) Refugee Law.

[7] The confirmation provided is entitled ‘Confirmation of Submission of an Application for International Protection’.

[8] Article 8(1)(b) Refugee Law.

[9] Article 11(4)(a) Refugee Law.

[10] For detailed information, see previous updates of the AIDA Country Report on Cyprus, available at:

[11] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[12] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[13] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[14] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[15] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[16] For further information, see AIDA, Country Report: Cyprus, 2021 Update, April 2022, available at:

[17] Ministerial Decision 93.451, 28 July 2022, available in Greek at:

[18] The application form, together with other relevant application forms, is available in Greek at:

[19] Ministerial Decision 312/2023, 29 September 2023, pursuant to art. 9Θ of the Refugee Law 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