Topic 2 Information on permits and requirements for working in Cyprus

Applying for work permits

Asylum-seekers

Refugees

Persons with Subsidiary Protection Status

TCNs

During the first month from the date of submission of the asylum application, asylum seekers are not entitled to work.

After one month has passed, the employment of the asylum seekers is allowed.

Section 21B of the Cyprus Refugee Law provides that the person who is recognized as a refugee receives equal treatment as the citizens of the Republic as regards wage- earning employment.

Refugees have the same rights as Cypriot citizens to employment, hence there are no restrictions to any specific sector and there is no need for the Labor Department to approve and stamp a contract of employment between an employer and a recognized refugee.

Based on the amendment to Article 19 of the Refugee Law, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have, as in the case of recognized refugees, immediate access to employment upon the date they are granted the aforesaid status.

There are no restrictions regarding their employment in particular sectors or occupations of the labor market.

It is not necessary for the Labor Department to approve and stamp a contract of employment between an employer and a person with subsidiary protection status.

A third country national must fulfil the conditions laid down by the legislation (Articles 18ΥΔ to 18ΦΖ of the Aliens and Immigration Law – Cap. 105 as amended until today. See pages 831-842 of the Official Gazette), on the employment of third country in the Republic.

For facilitating applicants, the lists of supporting documents include all documents that need to be provided in order to prove compliance with the legislation conditions.

A recognized refugee or a person with subsidiary protection status enjoys the same employment rights as any Cypriot citizen, meaning that there are no restrictions in the type of work they are allowed to do. As such, they can also start their own business following the standard procedure that any Cypriot citizen must follow (please see Module 3 for more information about this).

TCNs on the other hand, who wish to work in Cyprus (e.g. as a domestic worker for instance), will need to find employment and ensure a work permit before arriving to Cyprus, as these are pre-requisites for coming to the country. This is done through a process coordinated by specialized immigration consultancy offices both in the origin country as well as in the country that the TCN wishes to work (Cyprus).

Lastly, asylum seekers, which is the majority of migrants in Cyprus, need to follow very different laws and rules with regards to legal employment. In particular, there are specific employment sectors that they are allowed to work. On 17 May 2019, the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance published the expanded sectors of employment for asylum seekers. Asylum seekers can work after the first month from the date of their asylum application in the specific expanded sectors of economic activity and professions, given that they have an employment contract stamped by the Labour Department to a specific employer

Updated sectors that asylum seekers are allowed to work

From CyRC website

The Civil Registry and Migration Department website offers detailed information on the permits for TCNs in this link.

Foreigners Law

The Aliens and Immigration Law (Chapter 105) of 1952 regulates the stay of Third Country Nationals in Cyprus. In 2017 there were changes made that aligned the national law with the EU Directive 2014/36/EU on seasonal workers as well as the EU Directive 2014/66/EU on intra-corporate transfers.

Asylum Law

The Cypriot Refugee Law of 2000 complements the Foreigners Law by way of offering better protection to refugees. The most recent amendment was in 2016 to align with the Directive 2013/32/EU on asylum processes and the Directive 2013/33/EU on reception conditions. In 2017, the Cyprus Parliament confirmed the agreement between UNHCR and the Government of Cyprus regarding UNCHR’s operation in the country. The Refugee Law of Cyprus, 2000, Section 9H- provides for the access of asylum-seeking children to the public elementary and secondary education system under the same conditions as nationals. The Refugee Law further states that their school enrolment should not be delayed for more than three months from the date on which the application for asylum was lodged (Refugee Law, section 9H, transposes Article 14 of the recast Directive 2013/33/EU of 26 June 2013 on laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection).

Integration Law

The Republic of Cyprus is in the process of formulating a structured migrant integration policy as, until now, the majority of integration programmes and actions were carried out on an ad-hoc basis by governmental institutions, local authorities, and civil society organisations. All programmes have been carried out with the support of EU funds.

Nationality Law

The Civil Registry Law posits that TCNs can acquire Cypriot nationality after 7 years of legal residence (5 years if they are parents of Cypriot citizens). They can also acquire citizenship if they have been married to a Cypriot national for longer than 3 years and have lived in the country for at least 2 years. In 2011 and 2013 amendments introduced the naturalization of non-Cypriot investors, without meeting the above criteria.

Anti-discrimination

There have been various legislations that combat discrimination of migrants in Cyprus. The Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation Law of 2004 addresses discrimination on the ground of race and ethnicity in the field of social protection, medical care, education and access to services. The Equal Treatment in Employment and Work Law applies to the field of employment and the work environment. The Law fighting racial and other discriminations combats all types of discrimination related to racial or ethnic origin.

The maximum period of stay for TCNs for the purpose of employment is 4 years, with the exception of the livestock farming and agriculture sectors, where the maximum period has been set to 6 years.

The following third country nationals are exempted from this limitation:

  • Highly skilled personnel employed in companies with turnover of more than a million or hundreds of thousands euros and with activities within the priorities set for economic development,
  • Athletes and coaches of individual or team sports,
  • Religious icon painters (until the completion of a specific project),
  • Journalists/ correspondents,
  • Syrian nationals of Cretan descent – Kurdish (approved catalogues),
  • Homogeneous third country nationals.
  • TCNs cannot participate in any elections 
  • Civic participation of TCNs is mainly expressed through organised Unions and Organisations established in Cyprus by their compatriots.
  • In Cyprus, freedom of assembly and organisation is a constitutional right
  • Cyprus has several TCN organisations for countries such as: Nepal, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Philippines, Bangladesh, Georgia, Cameroon, Russia, Kenya.
  • These organisations offer programmes to support their members during their stay in Cyprus
  • TCNs have the right to know the laws, the regulations and the institutions that govern Cyprus.
  • Having knowledge of such information is necessary for TCNs integration in society of Cyprus.
  • Well informed TCNs will be in a position to protect themselves from any violation of their rights.
  • Rights and obligations of TCN residents are governed and protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus

TCNs  obligations for Cyprus are stated in the Aliens and Immigration Law, and relevant regulations referring to TCNs living, studying, or working in Cyprus. Basic obligations are:

  • To abide by, and respect the laws and regulations of Cyprus
  • To respect public and private property
  • To go through medical checks on their arrival in Cyprus
  • To inform Cyprus police for any possible amendment of their home address in Cyprus
  • To secure the renewal of their resident permit one month prior to its expiration, in case they wish to extend their stay in Cyprus

In 2021, Cyprus finalised a comprehensive National plan for the integration of migrants to serve as a reference document for state integration policies, as well as to delineate the overall priorities the state would seek to address. The plan also sets the parameters for project financing for the new EU programming period, 2021-2027. The national plan was developed following an open consultation process with migration and integration practitioners, civil society organisations, government agencies and services, national authorities and migrants themselves. Following that process, 8 priority axes for integration were formulated:

  • interventions related to the recognition and certification of migrants’ knowledge and skills
  • interventions related to the training of migrants and other target groups
  • interventions aimed at raising awareness among migrants, host societies and those involved in the integration process
  • interventions that facilitate migrant access to the welfare state
  • protection of the rights of vulnerable groups of migrant and refugee background
  • interventions to support the integration process through ongoing counselling
  • development of supportive tools for integration
  • establishment of a management mechanism