NICOSIA – Cyprus, which has become a growing lure for those fleeing war and strife in the Mideast, is planning to make it difficult for asylum seekers by sorting out economic migrants and blocking them from even trying, especially foreign students.
Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the government wants to reduce asylum and residence permit applications, telling Kathimerini that some colleges are being used as conduits by foreign students who want to get on the island to get asylum, calling the schools a “breeding center” for applicants.
“They came to Cyprus because they didn’t need a visa or they got one as foreign students who then took the ‘asylum route’ at the end of the academic year instead of renewing their studies,” he said, adding that another “asylum route”’ for non-bona fide asylum applicants, whom he described as economic migrants, was seeking residency status through marriage.
Cyprus came under withering criticism recently from a number of foreign embassies who said the government and some municipalities weren’t doing enough to shut down a fake marriage industry.
Aradippou municipal authorities in Larnaca district were accused of officiating marriages between Latvian women and men from India, Pakistan, and Nepal, while legal documents or marriage licences were never issued by Latvian authorities.
Media reports said the embassies of Romania and Portugal had also raised questions, including that at least one married woman got married to three other men in Cyprus using a different name each time.
Nouris says the government will push ahead with stricter guidelines that would impose new regulations about the civil marriages.
“In the coming days we will conclude some technical procedures and then send to the House specific amendments on marriage law in order to prevent the phenomenon of sham marriages, which has become a huge problem that leaves a blemish on the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.