VISAS AND PERMITS
- Pursuant to international bilateral agreements, based on nationality, persons may need a visa or may benefit from exceptions when entering into Turkey.
- All foreign nationals must obtain a work permit before commencing work in Turkey with the exceptions stated in the relevant code. Such work permits resulting from consular applications are valid on condition that the foreign nationals acquire a work visa within 90 days from the date of work permit issuance and a residence permit within 30 days from the date of entry into Turkey. (Certain exceptions apply if the person is already residing in Turkey pursuant to a residence permit.)
Turkish laws regulate circumstances where foreigners do not need a work permit to engage in certain work or activities, but these cases usually require obtaining a special visa. For example, an employee of a foreign entity may engage in assembly and maintenance service work for the benefit of a receiving Turkish entity pursuant to an Assembly and Maintenance Service (AMS) visa, which is applicable to many categories of “assembly and maintenance” activities including software, computer hardware, complex machinery, energy equipment, manufacturing equipment and more. Such a visa allows the employee to work only in the determined area and for the company designated within the scope of the visa.
- Certain nationalities may also obtain a residence permit based on their ability to support themselves, marriage to a Turkish citizen, or other categories. A residence permit by itself does not allow the applicant to engage in work in Turkey. Please see further details regarding residence permits below.
Because the requirements vary from country to country, please consult your local Turkish Consulate regarding whether there is a special bilateral international agreement between Turkey and the relevant country and whether business visitors need any specific visa. If a visa is required from the consular post as opposed to the port of entry, consult your local Turkish Consulate because the required documents vary from country to country.
WORK PERMIT/EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION
Categories of Work Permits
The law sets out several work permit types with respect to duration and procedure:
- Work permit for a definite period: the most common type of permit is granted for one year; duration may be extended for an additional two years. At the end of the three-year legal working period, the terms of the work permit may be extended for a maximum of three years for each extension to work in the same profession.
- Work permit for an indefinite period: granted to foreigners having resided in Turkey legally and uninterruptedly for at least eight years or having undergone a total legal working period of six years in Turkey. The Ministry rarely uses its discretion to issue this type of permit.
- Independent work permit: granted to foreigners without the need for a petitioning employer, if they can show that they have resided in Turkey legally and uninterruptedly for at least five years and their work shall have a positive effect on employment and economic development. The Ministry rarely uses its discretion to issue this type of permit.
- Exceptional work permit (duration): foreigners may be granted work permits that are not subject to the standard definite period permits described above. They must be able to show that they are an EU national, the spouse of a Turkish citizen, or key personnel (described below), among other categories. The Ministry does not often use its discretion to issue this type of permit.
Work Permit Process and Documents
The work permit application may be filed either domestically in Turkey or at the Turkish consular post abroad. If the applicant is currently present in Turkey pursuant to a residency permit (granted for at least six months), the applicant has the option of applying for a work permit domestically.
If not, then the application must be filed at the Turkish Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. The applicant/company must also, within three business days of filing the application at the Consulate, submit additional documents to the Ministry.
A. Work Permit Application Made at Turkish Consulate
I. Application to Consulate by Employee:
a. Employer letter (regarding intended employment, term and work duties, signed on letterhead by an individual with signature authority to represent the company);
b. Standard Visa Form provided by the Consulate;
c. Employment contract;
d. Passport; and
e. 4 Passport photos.
Note: The applicant may only apply at a consulate in a jurisdiction where he or she is a national or a lawful resident. The applicant should be informed by the consulate when this application has been officially registered so that the employer may then timely file the documents below.
II. Application to Ministry By Employer:
The employer shall submit the documents below to the Ministry within three business days following the applicant’s application to the Turkish Consulate.
⋅ Employee’s Documents:
a. Application form: Four copies in Turkish (with passport-size photos of applicant) to the Ministry bearing the signatures of both employee and employer;
b. Notarized copy of diploma/degree from applicant’s last educational institution; either (i) certified by the Turkish consulate or (ii) apostilled in accordance with the Hague Convention (Note: If the employee has a master’s degree, then the license diploma should also be provided);
c. Notarized copy of passport; either (i) certified by the Turkish consulate or (ii) apostilled in accordance with the Hague Convention;
d. Applicant’s curriculum vitae (CV)
e. Employment Agreement or offer letter signed between employer and employee (bearing information of the job description and employee’s salary); and
f. Letters of recommendation or other similar documents, if any.
⋅ Company Documents:
a. Employer letter(regarding intended employment terms and duties signed on letterhead by an individual with signature authority of the company;
b. Previous year’s balance sheet and profit/loss statement certified by the Tax Office and the company’s export incentive and investment incentive certificate, if any;
c. Certificate of Activity of legal entity obtained from the local Trade Registry;
d. Â Tax Office letter stating that the Company has no tax debts;
e. Social Security Institute letter stating that the Company has no debts;
f. Social Security office list of employees (whether Turkish or foreign) registered under Social Security; and
g. Trade Registry Gazette publishing showing the company’s latest capital and shareholder structure.
B. Domestic Work Permit Application:
As previously mentioned, where the applicant has a residence permit (with at least six months’ validity), the work permit application can be filed in Turkey, although this is not advisable for B Group Country applicants . The same application for a work permit abroad will apply, including the required documents to be submitted, however no work visa will be needed.Upon obtaining approval of the work permit, it shall be recorded on the residence permit by the Local Police Department.
C. Key Personnel Work Permit Application (pursuant to the Direct Foreign Investment Law)
This category of work permit requires the Ministry to expedite adjudication as well as allows the Ministry to not be bound by the standard duration of a definite term permit (as mentioned above).Key Personnel applications may be adjudicated in as little as 15 days. Please note that the Ministry may burden the employer with significant documentary requests to evidence eligibility for this category of work permit.
⋅ From Key Personnel:
- Application form: four copies signed by employer and employee submitted in Turkish with four recent passport photos.
- Documents evidencing the applicant is a key personnel, such as a copy of the circular of authorized signatures containing applicant’s name, or a copy of the decision of the Board of Directors where the definition of key personnel appears. In the case of an applicant with “essential knowledge,” documents may include testimonials, certifications, etc., relevant to the essential knowledge. It is particularly difficult to obtain classification as an “essential knowledge” employee.
- In the case of an “essential knowledge” applicant, a copy of the diploma/degree from the last graduated school, with accompanying Turkish translation, and either (i) certified by the Turkish consulate or (ii) with an apostille in accordance with the Hague Convention. In the case of an engineer or architect, accompanying this diploma must be a “Diploma Equivalency Certificate,” to certify the equivalent of such diploma in the context of the Turkish education system. The equivalency process is quite lengthy.
- A copy of the passport and accompanying Turkish translation, and either; (i) certified by the Turkish consulate or, (ii) with an apostille in accordance with the Hague Convention.
- CV in a format designated by the Ministry.
- Employment Agreement or offer letter (if any, note: work permit may not be granted for a period longer than the period of the Employment Agreement).
- If applying domestically, notarized copy of unexpired residency permit (the residence permit must be for at least six months and the application must be made within this period).
⋅ From the Employer:
- Employer letter to the Ministry petitioning for the employment of the foreign personnel.
- Certificate of Activity of legal entity obtained from the local Trade Registry.
- Evidence that the previous year’s exports amounted to at least 1 million USD, such as bank receipts relating to the export amount, a bank letter, a foreign currency purchase document, and/or company certified income statement; OR
- Evidence previous year’s turnover of at least 61.04 million TRL, documents such as a company certified income statement; OR
- Evidence employment of 250 employees domestically, documents generated by the Turkish Social Security Office; OR
- Evidence an investment of 20.4 million TRL, documents such as the Investment Stimulation Certificate, Tourism Stimulation Certificate, etc.; OR
- Evidence that the principal company has a direct foreign investment in a country other than Turkey and the head office country, documents such as a Certificate of Activity or Activity Report or letter from the official authorities of the relevant country, as well as a letter evidencing that the key personnel has been commissioned by the principal company abroad; OR
- Previous year’s balance sheet and profit/loss statement certified by the Tax Office or Turkish Trade Registry Gazette (showing the last capital and shareholder structure) if qualifying pursuant to a company or branch whose total capital share of the non-Turkish associates is at least 817,277 TRL.
The work permit application shall be adjudicated by the Ministry within 90 days once all documents have been fully submitted (assuming there are no additional documents requested by the Ministry).
However, provided that the employer is a company, branch or liaison office active and the employer qualifies as Key Personnel within the framework of the Direct Foreign Investments Law no. 4875, the Ministry shall adjudicate the application within 15 days (assuming there are no additional documents requested by the Ministry) as mentioned above.
Filing Fees 2009
Work permits for a definite time period:
up to 1 year: 101.10 TRL
up to 3 years: 304.10 TRL
Work permits for an indefinite time period: 507.20 TRL
Please note that a dependent spouse or son/daughter of a foreigner granted a work permit is normally not also granted a work permit. However, a work permit for a definite time period may be granted to dependents under the condition that they have legally resided in Turkey with the foreigner without interruption for at least five years.
Foreigners who will stay longer than a month in Turkey (which may vary pursuant to international agreements or applicant’s citizenship) need to apply for a residence permit. The residence permit is granted by the Foreigner’s Division of the Police Department and the required documents depend on the category sought. These requirements are stated in the police department (Foreigner’s Division) website. Residence permits are required for all foreigners who remain in Turkey regardless of the purpose of their stay. Those granted work permits must also then obtain residence permits, which are normally issued for the duration of the permit granted by the Ministry.
Permanent residence does not exist in Turkey.
As of August 2009, Group A countries include USA, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, UK, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Canada, Luxemburg, Norway, Portugal, New Zealand, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, South Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Republic of Cyprus.