South Cyprus to cut down number of foreign students to curb illegal immigration

The government of Cyprus (southern Cyprus) has said it will cut down the number of foreign students coming to the country for study to curb illegal immigration. 

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris made the announcement on Thursday when he said the numbers of third-country nationals studying in Cyprus will be cut, a move by the government in it's new policy in tackling the large migration flows to the island.

The measures include cutting student visas for third-country nationals as many supposed students go on to apply for asylum, stricter controls on municipalities as regards civil marriages to avoid sham marriages, and significantly reducing the time it takes to examine asylum applications and rejection appeals.

The minister said that between 2008-2013 the number of asylum seekers was around 13,000 but the migration crisis had seen numbers skyrocket.

Nouris said that after 2014 the numbers reached 34,000, almost Paphos’ population, putting Cyprus on top of the list of EU countries in terms of numbers of asylum seekers.

It was no secret for instance, that many third world nationals were enrolling in private colleges and universities and subsequently seeking asylum. Between 2017 and 2019, 3,214 foreign students applied for asylum, said Nouris, while another 2,239 entered “sham marriages” with European nationals in order to stay on the island. 

From September, apart from bank certificates foreign students, enrolling at colleges and universities would have to submit a signed statement, saying their life was not in danger and would be banned from working; a limit would also be placed on the number of foreign students at each college/university.

He reiterated that asylum seekers amount to 3.8 per cent of the country’s population whereas in other frontline countries this percentage is under one per cent.

If this percentage concerned Germany, the number would have been 1,120,000 people, Nouris said.

The minister also called on the EU to do more as regards solidarity between member states on the issue of migrants.

Most important however are the steps for speedily dealing with applications – examining applications of nationals from countries classed as safe within 10 days and initiating repatriation procedures as soon as they are rejected. Asylum seekers will stay at a migration centre that is being prepared, until the examination of their application is completed and a decision is reached.

There will be activists and NGOs that will criticise the government’s measures, but they would not have a very strong case. After all, war refugees and asylum seekers that are being threatened in their country will not be sent home. As for the rest, Cyprus is too small a country to become home to tens of thousands of economic migrants and the government is perfectly justified to take measures to stop their arrival. Once the tougher measures become known and it is heard that bogus applicants are speedily repatriated, the arrival of migrants to the island will gradually decrease, which is ultimate objective.

Cyprus mail

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