Historically, obtaining work permits in Turkey meant
adjudication periods of three to nine months, requests for
documents without explanation, and a lack of transparency for the
requirements by the Work Permit Directorate (Directorate). In 2010
the Turkish government made a bold effort to change the work permit
regime. In the same year it also chose to enact employer
qualification requirements for the entity that wished to sponsor a
work permit. This was a relatively new concept in Turkey. Since
implementation, the Directorate has attempted to create
On 29th July 2010, the Directorate published a
communique that requires an employer to have at least five Turkish
citizen employees per registered worksite per foreign applicant as
evidenced on payroll records (termed 5:1 ratio). The communique
also requires that the employer's paid in capital must be at
least 100,000 Turkish Lira (TL). Alternatively, the employer can
show either gross (assumedly annual) sales amounting to 800,000 TL
annually or exports with a gross annual value of USD $250,000. The
current exchange rate is 1.8 TL to 1 USD.
The 5:1 ratio has been particularly burdensome to employers.
This is partially because the ratio must be evident at each
worksite. Therefore, work permit applications will be denied if
they do not evidence a 5:1 ratio of Turks to foreigners at the
worksite selected for the foreigner (the worksite location is
normally specified on social security records). Soon after the
publication of the employer criteria, the Directorate was
confronted with many employers who could no longer sponsor
foreigners. In an attempt to ameliorate the impact of the 5:1 ratio
requirement, the Directorate published the following exemptions on
25th April 2011:
Founder/investor of a newly established legal
entity: If such a founder/investor owns at least 20% (but
amounting to at least 40,000 TL) worth of shares of the entity, and
if within 6 months the five employee criteria can be met, the
founder/investor is exempt.
Technical specialists: If there is evidence
that the position subject to the work permit application requires
advanced technology and a Turkish national specialist cannot be
found, both the 5:1 employee ratio and the capital requirement will
For companies that satisfy the foreign direct
Investment requirements, the 5:1 ratio will be applied by
taking into consideration every employee across all the
company's worksites in Turkey. Also, if the foreign employee is
deemed "key personnel" under this law, the Directorate
may not count him or her in the 5:1 ratio.
Government involvement: When the foreigner
will work on a product or service procurement for public
institutions or is pursuant to a public tender, or when the work
permit application is subject to a bilateral or multilateral
agreement to which Turkey is a party, both the 5:1 ratio and
capital requirement will not apply.
The Work Permit Directorate has not yet published guidance on
the evidence to be presented to qualify for these exemptions.
Although these exemptions have been published and available for
over a year, the exemptions are still not sufficient to meet the
legitimate business needs of companies.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This article aims to clarify the matters concerning Turkish citizenship acquisition in relation with Turkish Citizenship Law.
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