Unmasking Smugglers: Myths and lies

Here are some lies that smugglers use to earn money.

“Cyprus is a European country and you can travel to Europe easily once you get there and apply for asylum”

While it is true that Cyprus is a member state of the European Union, it is a lie that being an asylum seeker will give you direct access to mainland Europe. Firstly, Cyprus is an island and does not share any borders with any other European country or the Schengen area, making travelling from Cyprus to another European destination quite a difficult and complicated journey. Secondly, being an asylum seeker does not guarantee you will be able to travel to another European country, as specific rules and policies apply in terms of travelling abroad and getting a visa to another European country.

“Cyprus offers a lot of job opportunities”

For persons who apply for asylum, employment opportunities are limited to a specific set of professions. Asylum seekers have the right to work in these specific profession categories only, and have access to the labour market one month after they apply for asylum. However, this is about to change, as from October 2023, asylum seekers will be able to work only after 9 months have passed from the time they applied for asylum.

“Persons who say they are below 18 years old, get asylum automatically”

Declaring that you are under 18 years old when you apply for asylum, does not grant you with asylum and neither will it mean that you have more chances to be given asylum in Cyprus. You still have to undergo the asylum procedure, whereby the Cypriot authorities will assess your statements and other information to make a conclusion on your application. The Cypriot authorities will also assess your age, and can do so through the use of various medical tests, including X-rays, if necessary.

“You can get a visa for the USA or Canada, as an asylum seeker”

Cyprus does not have any such agreement with these two countries concerning resettlement programmes or other programmes, and simply because you applied for asylum will not grant you with the right to secure a visa to enter USA, Canada or any other country.

“If you get pregnant and give birth to a child in Cyprus, you are given asylum”

Getting pregnant or giving birth as a foreign national in Cyprus DOES NOT make the child a Cypriot citizen, DOES NOT give you or the child the right to stay and it DOES NOT increase your chances of getting international protection. You still have to prove, like any other asylum seeker, that you fled your country because of persecution, war or violence.

“If you get international protection, you will be able to bring all your family to Cyprus”

Depending on the outcome of your asylum application, you may be entitled to reunite with your family members in Cyprus. The right to family reunification is only granted to persons who are recognized as refugees. Persons who are still asylum seekers or who are granted with subsidiary protection do not have the right to family reunification. You can only reunite with immediate and nuclear family members and not with extended family members and other restrictions also apply.