• Rank: 36 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 35
  • HEALTH 31

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Country of immigration since mid-1980s, 2/3 of non-EU citizens are ordinary labour migrants, mostly coming from medium-developed countries
  • Non-EU citizens make up a larger share of CY's population than in most countries, though decreasing since the 2012/3 financial crisis by around 15,000 from 7.3% of the population to 6.6% in 2013 to 5.6% in 2014
  • Unemployment rates nearly doubled, especially for non-EU citizens, and the number of labour migrants and international students with legal permits dropped by 50%
  • Anti-immigrant attitudes are higher in CY than on average in the EU, with only a minority in 2012 believing that immigrants enrich CY economically and culturally (23%) and should have equal rights as CY citizens (39%)

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

No major improvements were made to CY's integration policies from 2010 to 2014, despite the major effects of the 2012/3 CY banking crisis on non-EU migrant workers. Instead, the CY government responded to the effects of the crisis on foreign investors by further facilitating their access to national permanent residence and CY (and thus EU) citizenship.

Conclusions and recommendations

CY's policies discourage long-term integration and rank 2nd-to-last in the EU, similar to LV and not far from TU. CY's non-EU citizens are mostly migrant workers and international students, with the experience and skills to integrate in the CY labour market. Instead, limited access and rights means that they are tied to their jobs or studies and expected to leave afterwards, under an official policy of 'temporary' migration. With some of the most restrictive policies (comparable only to TU, IE and now UK), reuniting with family or securing long-term residence is nearly impossible for the large number of potentially eligible non-EU citizens, with the exception, since the 2012/3 CY banking crisis, for the wealthy few. These policies and practices may go against EU law. 

Furthermore, hardly any targeted support is organised for non-EU citizens' employment, training, health or political participation, with a few exceptions (KYSATS for foreign qualifications, ZEPs for disadvantaged schools, Ombudsman for nationality discrimination). Although CY spends EU funds on ad hoc integration policies, its restrictive policies and limited support discourage immigrants and local communities from investing in their integration. 

While integration may be a reality on the ground for a few resilient groups in a few areas, the large numbers of 'permanently temporary' non-EU citizens in CY are at risk of irregularity with a precarious legal status and at risk of social exclusion with limited socio-economic rights.

Policy Recommendations from CARDET

  • Support the creation of Immigrants Civil Society and Youth organizations, which will have an active role in the public dialogue on upcoming migration policies and integration initiatives, and also to have active participation in migrant related civil society organizations
  • Improve the implementation of non-discrimination policies at the work place by creating specialized observatory bodies and providing training to employers 
  • Create the civil space for migrants to have an active participation at the local community level and local authorities bodies as a form of political participation
  • Lift the barriers in the family reunification process, especially for families with children – provide grants and financial support to civil society organizations to promote and support family reunification
  • Creation of a media observatory body for public speech and creation of a coordinating body for issue of non-discrimination and media
  • Provide extensive training to public servants on communication skills, law, human rights and non-discrimination approaches
  • Organize extracurricular school activities (i.e. sports, theatre) with the participation of both immigrant and Cypriot pupils


  • JULY
  • MAY




    MIPEX 38
    • 36 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Real Beneficiaries



    MIPEX 38
    • 37 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Outcome Indicators



    MIPEX 38
    • 25 of 38


    MIPEX 38
    • 29 of 38


    MIPEX 38
    • 25 of 38
    • Real Beneficiaries

    • Real Beneficiaries



    MIPEX 38
    • 37 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Outcome Indicators



    MIPEX 38
    • 23 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Outcome Indicators



    MIPEX 38
    • 27 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

    • Outcome Indicators


Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Most non-EU temporary residents are acquiring work experience or degrees in CY but denied long-term prospects in the labour market, with CY ranking 36th out of 38 just above SK and TU but far below countries with similar labour markets

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Labour market integration is a greater priority in CY since the 2012/3 CY financial crisis. Before then, only around 20% of working-age non-EU citizens were not in employment, education or training (22% for men and 18% for women). The rates were similar for low- and high-educated men and very different for low-educated women (only 8% not in employment, education or training) vs. high-educated women (1/3). Only in GR and CY are high-educated men more likely than the low-educated to be outside employment, education and training.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Only CY, SK and TU critically restrict non-EU residents' access to the labour market, meaning they can almost never change jobs and face major legal and high language barriers to work in other sectors, like self-employment or the public sector. The policy severely limits non-EU residents’ long-term economic integration, unlike new countries of labour migration (IT, ES, PT, CZ). Non-EU residents still lack targeted information and support to improve their situation, with no improvements following the 2012/3 financial crisis. Without any access to the social safety net, temporary migrant workers also face less equal rights as workers in CY than in all other MIPEX countries except TU. 

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Access to the labour market remains a critical problem for labour market mobility of the many non-EU citizens in CY, as only in SK and TU
  • Temporary work migrants are tied to the same job and employer, without the chance to look for another 
  • Unlike CY, many countries granting equal access to self-employment for all non-EU residents (recently GR, HU, PL)
  • Non-EU citizens are excluded from the public sector (unlike in 28 countries, see EU-required opening in IT to long-term residents) and from several regulated professions (unlike in nearly all)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Critically, access to public employment services is still restricted for non-EU citizens, unlike in 32 other countries
  • Non-EU newcomers' favourable access to general training, education and study grants may be impossible or useless given their restricted position and prospects in the CY labour market
  • Non-EU citizens should enjoy equal access to education, training, study grants and employment services in CY as in most Southern European countries
  • Non-EU citizens should enjoy the same procedures to recognsise their non-EU qualifications and skills, according to the 2008 Professional Qualifications Law

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Non-EU citizens can get their qualifications recognised by KYSATS
  • Besides this measure, non-EU citizens cannot benefit from any targeted information or support beyond ad hoc EU-funded projects
  • Few countries lack any serious targeted support (only GR, TU, PL, SK, Baltics)
  • Immigrants in most countries receive more targeted information on their rights and, in some cases, job-specific language training, mentoring programmes or start-up support for entrepreneurs 

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • CY denies non-EU workers equal working conditions and social security
  • Even as taxpayers, non-EU migrant workers and their families cannot touch their unemployment benefits, public allowances or housing benefits and, in principle, must leave CY if unemployed (see instead equal access in 14 countries, including Southern Europe, HR, EE, RO)

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Hardly any working-age non-EU citizens in CY can benefit from training or unemployment benefits in CY. In 2011/2, only 8.5% of working-age non-EU citizens reported that they had recently participated in education or training. The gender gap was large between 18.5% of non-EU citizen men (many university-educated) and only 4.5% of non-EU citizen women. Uptake of education and training is relatively low in Central and Southern Europe (e.g. GR, IT, HU, SI). Among unemployed non-EU citizens, only around 6% reported receiving any unemployment benefit, with especially low levels amongst non-EU women (3.4%). This was the 2nd lowest level of access to unemployment benefits among 19 European countries surveyed (e.g. 20-30% in GR, IT, PT and 40% in ES).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • Employment rates are only slightly below average for EU but with negative growth in recent years, as in most Southern European countries
  • Relatively rigid employment protection legislation across Southern Europe
  • Majority of pre-crisis migrants worked legally in CY, as across Southern Europe, with important numbers of international students
  • Limited opportunities to properly learn GR language before or after migration to CY
  • Few non-EU-born obtain degrees in CY

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

Labour market integration could be a long-term reality in CY. 2011/2 data found that the majority of the long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay) were working in CY, both high- and low-educated men and women. These low-educated men were just as likely to work as low-educated CY-born men, while these low-educated women were 27% more likely to work than low-educated CY-born women. 

The jobs filled by long-settled non-EU immigrants are often much lower quality than the jobs of CY-born workers. Non-EU-born men and women with university degrees are twice as likely to work in jobs not requiring a university degree (52% for men vs. 23% for CY-born and 60% for women vs. 31% for CY-born). While low-educated non-EU and CY-born men and CY-born women are rarely likely to experience in-work poverty (around 10%), non-EU-born women are 4.6 times more likely, with 40% in jobs without the wages or benefits to meet their basic needs. 

These results suggest that many non-EU-born workers are long-settled, despite the legal restrictions. While most are working, they are kept in more precarious jobs not only by the CY labour market, but also by its immigration policies. These workers enjoy hardly any benefits or targeted support and critically restricted access to the labour market and secure path to permanent residence.

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Compared internationally, CY's family reunion policy is one of the least 'family-friendly' both in law and in practice; non-EU adults in CY are most likely to be separated from their spouse (1/3) and least likely to reunite in CY, with exceptions for just a few nationalities

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

The need for reform of family reunion policies is probably greatest in CY of any of the 38 MIPEX countries. No other country keeps as many transnational families separated as CY. On average in Europe, 5-7% of non-EU citizen adults were not living with their spouse or partner, which serves as a good indicator of the number of immigrants living in transnational families and thus of potential sponsors of family reunion. Higher numbers of potential beneficiaries were identified in GR, IT, ES, AT, DE (5-7% of non-EU adults separated from their spouse) as well as in SI (12%) and BE (13%). None of these situations compare to CY, where over 1 in 3 (34%) of non-EU citizen adult residents were separated from their spouse. For comparison, only 1% of CY citizens were not living in the same place/country as their spouse. 

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Nearly all separated families can be excluded, deterred or rejected by CY's family union policy, the 2nd most restrictive amongst developed democracies. Its policy is only less restrictive than the UK since 2012, with the highest and tightest income requirement in the world starting at £18,600 (or €26,000). CY's policy is now even less family-friendly than DK, which removed many of its restrictions in 2012/3, and IE, which lacks a clear policy on family reunion but improved some protections in 2013. Unlike DK, IE and UK, CY falls under the scope of EU law, which means that many parts of its policies may be found to be unjustified, disproportionate or ineffective for family life and integration under EU law. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • CY delays and excludes more non-EU residents and family abroad than any other country except DK, under the most exclusionary rules 
  • Unlike CY, almost all temporary residents (27 countries) can sponsor immediately (14) or after 1 year (10) for an adult spouse (30) or same-sex partner (26), all minor children (28) and adult children and/or parents under more objective definitions of dependency (25)
  • In CY, sponsors can only apply after 2-years with ≥1-year-permits; this approach both discourages sponsors from investing in their integration and limits the prospects of integration for children and spouses, going against recent 2014 European Commission recommendations
  • 'Prospects for permanent residence' excludes most newcomers (i.e. ordinary migrant workers and students), with only exemptions for humanitarian migrants, Blue Card highly-skilled and researchers
  • This restrictive interpretation of EU law goes against the policy in most countries and potentially against ECJ jurisprudence (2012 Singh case) and 2014 Commission Guidelines
  • Age limits are imposed on adult spouses (≥21 years) and minor children (<15 years), without clear legal justifications why
  • Same-sex or long-term partners and dependent children/parents are also excluded

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The few sponsors and family members eligible to reunite face slightly more restrictive conditions in CY than on average in Central and Southern Europe (e.g. like GR)
  • Sponsors must pay disproportionate fees by CY standards and prove full-time legal employment, unlike in 22 other countries and potentially against EU law and ECJ case law

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Sponsors meeting these rules and conditions are only halfway certain that their family can reunite and stay in CY, a problem across Central and Southeast Europe
  • Passing these hurdles does not bring full security, as permits can be lost on wide grounds, including where original conditions no longer apply
  • Authorities are supposed to take a decision within 9-12m and weigh some personal/family circumstances in the applicant's favour, as required by EU law
  • Their permit is shorter than their sponsor's, unlike in 19 countries

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Reunited families only enjoy half of the rights that would help them escape dependency and poverty, with CY ranked 33rd like SK, HU and countries not bound by EU law 
  • Reunited family members have limited access to employment and social benefits, unlike in most other countries (see recent changes GR, ES)
  • Family members often face serious delays (5 years) and obstacles to become autonomous residents in CY, a problem across Europe
  • Before those 5 years, vulnerable families in need of protection (e.g. death, domestic/sexual violence) can only rely on discretionary access to autonomous permits

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

Fewer non-EU family members have reunited in CY than in most other European countries. They numbered just 307 in 2013 and around 400 in 2011 and 2012. Breakdowns of this data have not been reported to Eurostat by gender, age or family situation. In terms of nationality, access to family reunion is the perhaps the most inequitable in CY of all European countries, as only small numbers from certain nationalities are able to reunite in CY. For example, during the entire period of 2008-2013, CY allowed for the reunion of 679 RU family members (representing 10% of the RU permit holders in 2013), 60 MD (4.3%), 54 PK (3.9%), 45 IR (3.5%), 43 EG (4.2%). CY allowed for the reunion of hardly any family members from the other largest nationalities (PH, LK, VN, IN, SY).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Many pre-crisis migrants unlikely to return to their countries of origin, similar situation in CY as across Southern Europe
  • Some but certainly not all separated families interested to reunite in CY
  • Most from distant medium-developed countries and thus more likely to reunite 

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Despite the largest numbers of potentially separated families in Europe, hardly any non-EU citizens reunite with their spouse or children in CY compared to the rest of Europe. Non-EU family reunion is relatively rare in Europe. Out of every 100 non-EU residents in the average EU country, only 2.2 are newly arrived non-EU family members, according to 2013 data. These numbers drop to around 1 in 100 for non-EU residents in AT, DE and GR. They drop to 0.5 out of 100 (or 1 out of 200) for CY. This rate was consistently low in previous years before the 2012/3 financial crisis. Family reunion only seems to happen for a few nationalities in CY. The family reunion rate in CY is rather similar to the EU average (2-3 out of 100) for the small numbers of RU, UA, KZ, LB and US citizens in CY. While a family's choice is also driven by other individual and contextual factors, restrictive policies are likely to be the key factor determining whether or not they reunite. Non-EU family reunion is very rare and inequitable in countries like CY with restrictive and discretionary policies, such as GR, IE, and MT. 


Key Findings

CY's ZEP approach offers basic support for pupils in disadvantaged pupils, but nothing to promote social integration and a multicultural education for all pupils

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

The number of non-EU pupils remains small, estimated with Eurostat data at 4,000 or 2.7% of <15-year-olds in 2014. 

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Ranked 25th, CY's ZEP approach offers basic support for immigrant pupils to access and stay in disadvantaged schools but no support to CY pupils to learn how to live in a diverse society. All pupils, regardless of status, should be allowed to access all types of schools, ongoing GR language support and more targeted support and trained teachers in ZEP schools. However, schools are not used as spaces for social integration. Immigrant communities cannot teach their languages and cultures nor actively contribute to school life. Some extracurricular activities for immigrant pupils are integrated in some schools in Cyprus, which includes GR language courses, and additional support in studying. Also, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus is offering some capacity building workshops to teachers in how to support multiculturalism in classrooms. 

Dimension 1: Access

  • CY provides some limited support to help immigrant pupils get and stay in school, like other recent destinations (e.g. IT, SI, ES)
  • Immigrant pupils can generally access compulsory education and general support, although undocumented children may encounter difficulties at individual schools
  • All pupils, regardless of status, should be able to access pre-primary, vocational and higher education (similar to GR, ES, FR)
  • Teachers place newcomer pupils in the school and induction classes based on limited assessments of their learning abroad (see use of outside experts in FR, LU)
  • Immigrant pupils are not specifically supported to access or complete vocational or higher education (see traditional countries of immigration, Nordics, AT, PT) 

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • CY's approach is halfway favourable for targeting the specific learning needs of immigrant pupils providing that these measures are effective and reach all pupils in need
  • Language support (also for parents) is available at different proficiency and school levels, though higher quality standards could be guaranteed in all schools
  • ZEPs offer additional financial support to disadvantaged schools, including many with large concentrations of immigrant pupils
  • In-service trainings by CY Pedagogical Institute are supposed to be obligatory for teachers in ZEP schools on multicultural education and for teachers of EN as a 2nd language

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Nothing more is done to encourage immigrant pupils' contribution to society in CY, as other countries do; 
  • 22 countries teach major immigrant languages in/after school (e.g. Northern Europe, GR, PT, ES) 
  • Courses are organised sometimes through bilateral agreements with countries of origin, occasionally as foreign language options for all pupils
  • External community/expert centres have the mandate to support schools with intercultural mediators to organise immigrant language/culture courses, parental outreach and cooperative learning for immigrant and non-immigrant pupils in the same or different schools (e.g. AU, FR, LU, NO, PL, PT, CH) 

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • While intercultural education is an official aim, government support to implement measures is unfavourable as in several Central and Southeast European countries
  • Helping CY pupils and citizens to appreciate cultural diversity has not been a major priority for CY's integration strategy or structural use of EU funding, unlike in most countries
  • Limited possibilities to adapt curricula in practice
  • Ad hoc pre- and in-service trainings available as a basis to develop greater support for multicultural education
  • Countries like UK make intercultural education a dedicated school subject, while BE, NL, PT and UK better integrate it into school materials and activities


Key Findings

Migrants face more restricted healthcare entitlements than in most countries, while services and policies are generally unresponsive to their specific needs in CY and broadly across Southeast Europe 

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Migrant health policies are under-developed in CY, much like others in GR and other Southeast European countries. As across the region, the CY health system provides migrants with basic health information through various means, but little else, as health services and policies are barely responsive to their specific access/health needs. CY ranks only 29th like TU, BG, SK and GR because the sizeable number of migrants in CY face more restrictive entitlements in law and in practice than in nearly all other countries.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Migrants' limited entitlements in law are often frustrated by problems of documentation and discretion in practice in CY, ranked 33rd out of the 38 countries like PT and Baltics
  • Migrants for work or study must pay for basic private insurance with employers deciding about its scope, gaps emerging over time and reimbursement rates often far below the actual costs charged 
  • These restrictions are rare in other countries where legal migrants are usually entitled to the same healthcare coverage under equal or certain conditions
  • Slightly below average, asylum-seekers and recognised refugees in CY enjoy free healthcare though under certain conditions and restrictions subject to Health Ministry case-by-case decisions
  • Undocumented migrants can access emergency care though there is a flat-rate charge of €10  
  • In all categories of migrants, certain at-risk groups are exempted from restrictions

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Migrants can receive some information on entitlements and basic health issues in CY as in most countries
  • Printed and online booklets explain different migrants' entitlements in English, Arabic, Hindi and Romanian and limited campaigns have been conducted on specific issues (e.g. FGM)
  • Intercultural mediators are not used to help individuals access services, unlike in 18 other countries
  • Health professionals are allowed to treat and not report undocumented migrants, similar to most other countries

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • CY health services have done hardly anything to guarantee that migrant patients are properly informed and treated in practice, a weakness in many new countries of immigration with limited means
  • Hospitals can decide whether or not to attend ad hoc trainings on diversity by the CY Academy of Public Administration
  • A few attempts made to adapt methods for diagnosing and treating vulnerable migrant groups (e.g. FGM, torture victims)
  • In contrast, a near-majority of countries provide some sort of free interpretation services and mechanisms to involve migrants in designing and delivering information and services 

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Weak links are made between health and integration policy in CY, as in many new destination countries (see instead efforts in MT, IE, IT, PT, ES)
  • Basic data and research is available to develop a migrant health policy
  • The commitments on migrant health in the Integration strategy were to date general public health actions and not targeted to the specific access/health needs of migrants

Policy Box

With the contribution from Sotiris  Stratis, Officer at Ministry of Health;Xenia Georgiadou, Administrative Officer at Civil Registry and Migration Department;Thekla Demetriadou, Ombudsman’s  Officer.

Political Participation

Key Findings

One of the most exclusive democracies in the developed world, CY's disenfranchised non-EU residents represent 6.3% of the adult population; CY could develop an effective integration policy by consulting and supporting immigrants and local communities 

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Around 45,000 non-EU adults (aged 15+) are disenfranchised in CY, according to 2014 data. That's roughly 6.3% of the population aged 15+, one of the highest levels of disenfranchisement among developed democracies, similar to GR, AT, DE and IT.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Non-EU residents living in CY cannot participate in most parts of the public debate. In the absence of structural support for associations or consultative bodies of immigrants, no meaningful dialogue can take place between immigrant residents, local communities and politicians. They cannot improve the policies that affect them daily, since most authorities design policies ‘for’ them and are not informed by or accountable to them. Since 2007, CY has not progressed on political participation like neighbouring new immigration countries: IT, PT, ES and recently GR. It more resembles MT or Baltic and Central European countries. Despite EU and Council of Europe standards, political participation is absent from CY's integration strategy. 

Dimension 1: Electoral rights


  • Non-EU residents cannot vote or stand in elections, unlike in 21 countries, including new countries of immigration (e.g. PT, ES, SI, HU, SK)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Like all Western European countries, CY does not encroach on non-EU immigrants' basic political liberties
  • Non-EU citizens can join political parties and form associations

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Structural consultation of immigrants is missing in CY and 9 other countries, most with much smaller immigrant communities than CY
  • New and sometimes innovative structures continue to be founded in both old and new destination countries (e.g. IT, PT, ES, GR, soon MT)
  • The most sustainable new bodies were built on strong ownership from immigrants, who are freely elected from among interested associations/individuals, representing different nationalities and groups (e.g. women, youth) and (co)chairing the discussions  

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • CY and again only 9 other countries offer no structural support from EU funds for immigrants to set up community civic organisations 
  • Small-scale grants can build core capacity and support civic consultation of CY's formal or informal immigrant leaders (e.g. PT's GATAI, IE's NCP, BE's Minderhedenforum) 

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

Since 2013, 0% of non-EU citizens are enfranchised in CY elections. Unless voting rights are granted, naturalisation is the sole way for non-EU citizens to participate in CY democracy. However, an estimated 18% of non-EU-born had naturalised as CY citizens by 2012 (similarly low in GR). CY is becoming one of the most politically exclusive democracies in the developed world, together with other Southeastern European countries alongside countries such as DE, IT, CH and AT. 

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

Half of CY's non-EU citizens are 'de facto' long-term residents but only 2.5% had become national long-term residents by 2013, without a secure status and equal opportunities in CY or free movement in the EU 

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

By 2011/2, nearly half of the non-EU citizens in CY have lived there the 5+ years required under EU law to become eligible for long-term residence, according to EU Labour Force Survey estimates. 60% of non-EU citizen men were potentially eligible, compared to 42.5% of women. While CY has the lowest share of potential long-term residents, due to its 'temporary migration' strategy, these estimates suggest that half of the non-EU citizens in CY are 'de facto' long-settled there on their temporary status. 

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

The path to long-term residence in CY excludes and deters non-EU residents from investing in integration and obtaining the secure and equal status to make CY their home. CY's policies are the most restrictive in the EU and the 2nd most internationally, after TU, which is far outside the scope of EU law. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Most non-EU residents, even with 5+ years' legal residence, cannot apply because their years on several types of temporary permits do not count as eligible, according to CY authorities' interpretation of EU law
  • CY law excludes most non-EU migrant workers as their work permits are 'formally limited' (e.g. normally 4 years for general migrant workers; 6 years for domestic workers with initial permit for 4 years + 2 years' renewal + further renewal possible)
  • Beneficiaries of international protection should be able to apply since 2013
  • The European Court of Justice, in its 18/10/2012 judgement in case C502/10 of Netherlands vs. Mangat Singh, asked national courts like CY's to reconsider their countries' eligibility criteria for long-term residence. The ECJ clarified that policies cannot exclude 'de facto' long-term residents with 5+ years' residence on fixed-period permits that can be extended indefinitely 

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The few eligible non-EU residents still face the 2nd most restrictive criteria after GR and just of the UK with its new requirements (£35,000-per-year or €50,000)
  • These requirements demand without promoting integration 
  • (similar to AT, CZ, GR, LV, MT, SK, CH, UK)
  • Applicants face disproportionately high fees and costs by CY standards (427.15€ vs. <160€ in 20 countries)
  • Although the state provides non-EU residents with unfavourable labour market access and targeted support, applicants are expected to provide proof of permanent employment contracts of at least 18 months (jobs not required in 26 other countries)
  • Since 2009, they must demonstrate average A2-level GR fluency (unlike in 14 countries) and knowledge of the current political and social situation in Cyprus (unlike in 23 countries), all without guaranteed free courses to pass (see instead CZ, IT, PT)
  • The only clear exemptions are for migrants working in international companies (and then, just for the first renewal), unlike the general trend to exempt vulnerable migrants and consider individual abilities, even in countries with otherwise difficult integration conditions (DE, NL, IT)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • The procedures themselves leave applicant only halfway secure of their future in CY, a weakness in most of Central and Southeast Europe
  • Their 5-year permit can be refused or lost for fraud, security threats or criminal record, but not if they lose their job
  • Some personal circumstances will be considered before withdrawal but this will not guarantee protection from being deported, no matter how long they have lived in Cyprus (unlike IT, PT, RO)

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • CY is one of the few EU countries denying a few key rights for long-term residents (also FR, CZ, SI), such as access to public sector jobs (see IT) or mortgages through the Home Financing Corporation 

Policy Box

Since 22 August 2012, the Interior Minister can decide within 2 months on permanent residency applications without passing through the normal 4-member committee. For this fast-track, the applicant must purchase new property costing at least €300,000, possess at least an annual €30,000 income and place €30,000 in a CY bank and demonstrate no criminal record. The permit applies to the investor, spouse and unmarried dependent children up to age 25. Applicants cannot work in CY, but can create a business/export intermediary and easily get Schengen visas. As long as they return to CY at least 1 day every 2 years, they can get CY (and thus EU) citizenship after 7 years.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

Only 100 non-EU citizens had become long-term residents in 2009, according to CY data reported to Eurostat. The numbers rose to just 300-450 between 2010 and 2012. By 2011, most (287) were EU long-term residents with the right to live and work in other EU Member States. With the 2012/3 financial crisis, the number of EU long-term residents in CY dropped to 30. From 2012 to 2013, the number of national permanent residents jumped by 1,000 (3 times higher), likely due to the investor-based residency scheme. Nearly all were CN citizens (29 in 2012 and then 856 in 2013). As a result, CN citizens make up 60% of permanent residents in CY, followed by citizens of RU (23%), EG (4%), UA (4%), IR (2%), LB (1%). In contrast, hardly any of the other major nationalities in CY have become long-term residents (12 from SY, 10 from BY, 4 from PK, 2 from IN, and 1 each from MD, BD, PH and 0 from LK, NP, VN).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Most residents potentially ineligible as general migrant workers or as <1-year-permit-holders 
  • Majority report 5+ years' residence in CY, though problems with renewals are common (also in GR)
  • Many former labour migrants not wanting to return to their country of origin
  • Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in countries like CY and GR with restrictive naturalisation policies 

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

While an estimated half of the non-EU citizens in CY lived there for 5+ years by 2011/2, only 2.5% of non-EU citizens had become long-term residents by 2013. CY grants fewer non-EU citizens with equal rights to participate in society than nearly all European countries (on par with IE/DK, where EU law does not apply, and BG). 

The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. Restrictive policies in CY, GR, IE and MT create large numbers of 'permanently temporary' residents at risk of irregularity with a precarious legal status and at risk of social exclusion with limited socio-economic rights. Being denied EU long-term residence, they are also denied the chance to live and work in other EU countries like emigrating CY citizens. 

Evidence base

What do we learn from robust studies?

Researchers using MIPEX find that restrictive long-term residence and citizenship policies keep non-EU immigrants in more precarious jobs (Corrigan 2013) and discourage them from settling long-term (De Waard 2013).

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Most immigrants and their children are ineligible or discouraged to naturalise as citizens of CY

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

Due to its 'temporary' migration policy, CY has the lowest share of non-EU citizens who are made eligible for naturalisation. Only around 1 in 3 non-EU citizens has the 7 years of residence required to apply. Still, that low share translates into around 20,000 potential non-EU citizen applicants in 2012.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

  • Immigrants' access to nationality is slightly unfavourable in CY, as in most Southeastern European countries
  • Immigrants receive little support to pass the costly and highly discretionary procedure, while their children born or raised in CY are treated like foreigners, without any special entitlement to citizenship

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility rules are halfway favourable for the few immigrants allowed to settle in CY
  • The 7-year-period and permit requirements are average for Europe
  • The major weakness is that Cyprus is missing an entitlement to citizenship for the foreign children born or raised in Cyprus, despite mounting international trends (now 18 MIPEX countries, recently PT, CZ and DK, debated in GR and IT)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The legal requirements contain as many obstacles as opportunities for immigrants' integration
  • A2-level fluency is the most common level used internationally and should be sufficient proof of integration in CY
  • This goal is not supported in practice, since all immigrants are not guaranteed enough free courses to pass (see EE, IT, PT, SI)
  • Applicants are often asked for other proof outside the law and for a relatively high fee compared to the much lower fees in most Southeastern European countries

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Immigrants who meet all the legal requirements can still be rejected under one of the most discretionary procedures, alongside only GR, TU, MT and the Baltics
  • Authorities can keep them waiting for years and reject them on vague grounds
  • Applicants do not even have the right to a reasoned decision or a full appeal (guaranteed in 31 other MIPEX countries, see recent reformers GR, LU, PL)
  • Naturalised CY citizens are kept more insecure than elsewhere; They can lose their status on wide grounds, regardless of statelessness or time

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • CY facilitates dual nationality for ordinary applicants, as do most MIPEX countries, which removes one potential barrier to naturalisation

Policy Box

After the EU/IMF bailout, CY revised its investor citizenship programme with the goals to enhance the business climate and compensate foreign clients for their losses. The amount for investments/deposits/acquisitions was lowered from €10-to-5 million while a new route was opened for foreigners incurring €3 million in losses due to bank levies. The other criteria were a clean criminal record and 1 visit to CY. 

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

Around 1,000-2,000 non-EU citizens have been naturalised every year between 2009-2012. In 2012, their numbers only reached 1,056 and were outnumbered by naturalising EU citizens (mostly Greeks).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • Mostly newcomers in new country of immigration
  • Temporary migrants not allowed to stay the required 7 years
  • Many potentially interested non-EU citizens from low-and-medium-developed countries

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

Non-EU immigrants rarely become citizens in CY. Only an estimated 18% of non-EU-born adults have become CY citizens, one of the lowest rate in Europe, even among new countries of immigration. CY's 2012 naturalisation rate for non-EU citizens was also one of the lowest in Europe (1.6), alongside IT and GR. The naturalisation rate was one of the lowest for women (1.3) and one of the highest for the elderly over 65 (5.0). Together, CY's restrictive residence and citizenship policies are primarily responsible for its below-average naturalisation rates.


Key Findings

Non-reporting of discrimination cases is the norm in CY and across Europe, although CY Ombudsman is comparatively more accessible to CY's large number of potential ethnic, racial and nationality discrimination; Still CY's laws may be too new, weak or poorly resourced by the State for victims to find justice though courts

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

According to a 2012 Eurobarometer, around 6.2% of people in GR felt they had been discriminated against or harassed in the previous year based on their race/ethnic origin (4.2%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.9%). This may represent one of the highest levels of perceived ethnic or racial discrimination in Europe, alongside AT, FR, HU, UK and BE.

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

Ranking 27th, CY's 2004 Equal Treatment laws provide weaker protections against nationality discrimination in all areas of life than do a slight majority of countries or the CY Ombudsman within its mandate under the ECHR's Protocol 12. This gap between national and international law creates obstacles for victims to access justice in court. The CY state commitments to promote equality provide weak support to victims and to the Ombudsman in its role as the Equality Body.

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • Wide range of actors cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of race, ethnicity or religion
  • The law is still missing key definitions (e.g. discrimination by association, multiple discrimination, racial profiling or racist threats/insults)
  • Nationality discrimination is missing in the 2004 Equal Treatment Laws, but part of Protocol 12 of ECHR, unlike in 22 other countries
  • As a result, courts should but do not enforce protections against nationality discrimination, leaving these cases up to decisions by the Ombudsman, whose mandate includes nationality under Protocol 12

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • The law provides clear protections against racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in all areas of life
  • Protections against nationality discrimination could be strengthened in all areas under national legislation, as in 16 countries

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Victims can use slightly favourable mechanisms to enforce the law in CY, ranked 23rd
  • Victims can bring a civil or criminal case and obtain legal aid Proceedings are complex, with limited available sanctions (most others) and roles for equality NGOs (12 others)
  • Gaps still exist in the law on actio popularis (see 12 countries, e.g. BG, HR, HU, RO, SK) and the use of situation testing (in Europe see e.g. BG, FR, HU, NL, RO, SK, UK)

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • The support for victims is only halfway favourable for fighting discrimination in courts and in society with a strong Equality Body but weak equality policies in CY, much like the average European country (see instead Nordics, AU, AT, BE, FR, CH, UK, US)
  • The Ombudsman has slightly favourable powers to help victims of racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination, but limited staff to do its job
  • It issues recommendations and leads investigations but cannot pursue a claim in court on victims’ behalf (8, e.g. BE, NL, SE) 
  • The State provides for some dialogue on discrimination issues but has no obligation to promote equality in its work
  • Little is done to combat potentially discriminatory laws and practices or 
  • Public awareness and judicial/legal trainings are usually run not by the state but with limited means by the Ombudsman and NGOs

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

Statistics are kept on discrimination complaints but not on cases brought to justice. For example in 2013, the Ombudsman received 153 complaints, including 2 on religious discrimination, 12 on racial/ethnic origin and 54 on national origin. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • 42% of general public in CY say that they know their rights as discrimination victims, a slightly high number for Southern Europe
  • Low levels of trust in police and justice system in Southern Europe 
  • Mostly newcomers not yet naturalised as CY citizens, thus less likely to report discrimination incidents

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Non-reporting is a problem across Europe, including CY, although the Ombudsman appears to be more accessible to CY's large number of potential victims than are equality bodies for victims in most other countries. 1 complaint is received for approximately every 500 people in CY experiencing ethnic or religious discrimination. This non-reporting rate is high and slightly lower in countries like FR, NL, IE and SE. However in contrast, non-reporting rates reached around 1 in >3,000 in IT and 1 in >5,000 in GR. 

Better data for more countries will confirm whether potential victims are more likely to report discrimination in the countries with stronger anti-discrimination laws, equality policies and bodies. What is clear is that most countries have not even taken the first steps to properly enforce and resource their anti-discrimination laws.