After accusations that agents were buying up appointment times and selling them individually for €200, Cyprus authorities shut down an online appointment platform.
Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou acknowledged the decision, stating that the platform aroused concerns and was thus closed.
To avoid system misuse, Constantinos declared that appointments with the Civil Registry and the Migration Department would now be made via email and walk-in hours, with certain categories taken into account.
Furthermore, the Minister stated that applicants will be able to learn about the status of their application once or twice a month.
The first example of block-booking was discovered on March 10.
“I don’t know about any amounts of money, but there was certainly abuse by agents who pre-booked a large number of appointments, so the public or other categories of people were not able to book appointments,” he pointed out.
People seeking international protection in Cyprus, as well as nationals of European Union countries, were disproportionately affected by the circumstances. At the same time, visitors and foreign spouses faced major challenges as a result of the situation.
According to a Knews article, police officers in this country stated that they warned immigration authorities about the likely exploitation of this site. But, spokeswoman Christos Andreou stated that law enforcement had never received a formal complaint.
Officials suspected that those who traded appointment slots did so by reserving under one name and then changing the name once payment was made.
Officials in Cyprus are seeing an increase in the number of asylum seekers. According to Ministry of Interior data from last year, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Cyprus nearly doubled.
Last week, Cyprus's Interior Minister reminded EU peers that the country's capacity to deal with the present migrant scenario had been eroded, urging the EU to see this problem as an undeniable effect of Turkey's instrumentalization of refugees.
However, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) praised Cuprus' cooperation with refugee seekers.
According to the research, employment procedures for persons seeking asylum in Cyprus have become much easier as of October 2021, when a simple declaration from an employer is needed to recruit a person.
By fLEXI tEAM