The new “Law on Foreigners and International Protection” (Law No. 6458) takes effect April 12, 2014.
This new law will make vast changes to residence permit eligibility and procedure, as well as in visa and immigration processing. Unfortunately, the Turkish Ministries of Interior, Labor, and Foreign Affairs have released little clarification on implementation. As of late March, queries to the Interior Ministry offices indicated that the Ministry is not prepared to implement all the changes listed below.
A sample of the procedural changes include application of the 90-of-180-day rule to be extended to business visitors, the requirement that passports expire no earlier than 60 days past the validity of the visa sought, and proof of medical and financial support while in Turkey. Also, sticker visas obtained at the border will be replaced by an electronic visa system for eligible visitors. Substantive changes include new harsher procedures and penalties for deportation and a ban on re-entry of foreigners who are out of status or not abiding by the terms of their stay. The law requires the creation of a new Immigration Administration General Directorate within the Ministry of Interior.
The most significant changes will be with regard to residence permits, as described below:
Residence permits as of 90 days: Residence permits are no longer required unless the person remains in Turkey 90 days or more (certain restrictions apply). Previously a permit was required once a person was in Turkey 30 days or more.
Ministry of Labor to issue work permit inclusive of the residence permit: The new version of the work permit will also substitute for a residence permit in Turkey. At this point, it is not clear when the Ministry will start issuing the new version of the work permit. In the meantime, clients must be prepared to file for a residence permit as usual until further notice.
New residence permit categories and filing for most types of initial residence permits at consular posts: The new law outlines several new residence permit categories and will require that almost all initial residence permits be filed via a consular post outside of Turkey, not domestically at the police office. These residence-permit categories include but are not limited to:
- Initial dependent residence permit (now also including dependent adults)
- Initial tourist residence permit
- Residence permit based on possession of immovable property
- Residence permit based on “establishing a business or commercial connections”
- Residence permit based on participation in an “in service training program”
- Long-term residence permit
Consular posts have not yet released information on the procedures or evidence necessary to file these residence permit applications. It is also unclear if the previous domestically filed initial residence permit categories will still exist after April 11, 2014 (e.g., initial dependent residence permit, funds-based residence permit).
Significant changes in residence permits for dependents: As mentioned above, there are changes in the requirements for dependent residence permits as well as a new category for adult dependent residence permits. The new law also will require a showing that the sponsoring working principal spouse (or Turkish citizen spouse) has had no record of a “crime against family” in the previous five years. It also states that the principal spouse must show appropriate accommodation for the dependents.
This article does not include information on all changes the law proposes, but focuses on the ones most applicable to corporate immigration/global mobility of employees. Again, there are no details yet available on the manner and timing of implementation of the new law.