Around 6,000 applications for citizenship are currently awaiting approval and have been piling up at the Civil Registry and Migration department since 2007, which has come under fire for its lengthy processing times.

A department spokesperson told the Cyprus Mail on Monday the main reason behind the substantial delays is the surge in the number of applications in recent years without a corresponding increase in the department’s staff.

The spokesperson also added that many of the applications submitted get rejected because they lack supporting documents to be processed, while personnel at the department is also working overtime to reduce the accumulated backlog.

The delayed examination of applications primarily affects Greeks of Russian origin living in Cyprus, some of whom have been waiting over 20 years. Despite their children being born in Cyprus, they are still required to serve in the Greek army.

“We are simply swamped with applications for citizenship and delays are inevitable,” the spokesperson said.

According to the law in place since 2002 people applying for citizenship in Cyprus must have resided in the Republic for the entire period of the preceding 12 months from the date of the application.

Additionally, the applicant must have resided in the Republic for a total of at least seven years.

In the case of a person of Cypriot origin, residence in a foreign country before August 16, 1960 may be counted as residence in the Republic. Residence or service in the former colony of Cyprus before August 16, 1960, may also be counted as residence in the Republic.

Last March, the civil registry and migration department’s online portal for making appointments was scrapped after rampant exploitation and abuse of it as agents of foreign workers were selling slots for €200 for the previous two years to citizens urgently trying to gain or renew work permits.