Turkey: Residence Permits For Foreigners In Turkey

The Law on Foreigners and International Protection No. 6458 ("Law No. 6458"), published in the Official Gazette dated 11.04.2013 and numbered 28615, abrogated the Law on Residence and Travels of Foreigners in Turkey No. 5683 by entering into force on 11.04.2014. Law No. 6458 regulates the entry of foreigners into Turkey, visa requirements, principles and procedures of the scope and application of international protection, regulations and novelties on establishment, duties and the mandate of General Directorate of Immigration Management ("General Directorate") affiliated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs ("Ministry"). The subject of this Newsletter Article shall be limited to residence permits for foreigners.

Obligation of Obtaining Residence Permit and Exemptions

Pursuant to Article 19 of Law No. 6458, foreigners who stay in Turkey beyond the duration of a visa or a visa exemption or, in any case longer than ninety days, are obliged to obtain a residence permit.

Article 20 of Law No. 6458 regulates exemptions from the residence permit. Foreigners listed under Article 20 are not required to obtain a residence permit. For example, foreigners who have arrived with a valid visa or by virtue of visa exemption for a stay of up to ninety days, are exempt from a residence permit within the period of the visa or the visa exemption; holders of a stateless person identity card; members of the diplomatic and consular missions in Turkey; family members of diplomatic and consular officers, provided they are notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also not required to obtain a residence permit; moreover members of the representations of international organizations in Turkey whose status has been determined by virtue of agreements; who are exempt from a residence permit by virtue of international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory, are listed as exempt from the residence permit requirement.

Type of Residence Permit

There are several types of residence permits, depending on the purpose of the visit of the foreign person. The types of residence permit are listed as short-term residence permit, family residence permit, student residence permit, long-term residence permit, humanitarian residence permit and victim of human trafficking residence permit under Article 30 of Law No. 6458. It should be mentioned that each type of residence of permit requires detailed documentation1 depending on the status and legal purpose of applicant.

A short-term residence permit is regulated under Articles 31 to 33 of the Law No. 6458. As per these articles, a short-term residence permit may be granted to foreigners who arrive to conduct scientific research in Turkey; own immovable property in Turkey; establish business or commercial connections; participate in job training programs; who arrive to attend educational or similar programs as part of student exchange programs or agreements to which Turkey is a party; who wish to stay for tourism purposes; who intend to receive medical treatment, provided that they do not have a disease posing a public health threat; who are required to stay in Turkey pursuant to a request or a decision of judicial or administrative authorities; who attend a Turkish language course; who attend an education program, research, internship or, a course by way of a public agency; who apply to a higher education program in Turkey within six months upon their graduation. Short-term residence permits shall be issued with maximum one year duration at a time.

A family residence permit is regulated under Articles 34 to 37 of Law No. 6458. Within this framework, a family residence permit may be granted to a foreign spouse; foreign children or foreign minor children of their spouse; dependent foreign children or dependent foreign children of the spouse of Turkish citizens or of foreigners holding one of the residence permits for a maximum duration of two years at a time. The duration of the family residence permit cannot exceed the duration of the sponsor's residence permit under any circumstances. With regard to family residence permit applications, certain conditions such as monthly income and appropriate accommodation and safety standards are also required for the sponsor.

A student residence permit is regulated under Articles 38 to 41 of the Law No. 6458. As per these articles, a student residence permit shall be granted to foreigners who shall attend an associate degree, undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate program in a higher education institution in Turkey. A student residence permit shall not entitle the parents as well as other family members of the foreigner to obtain a residence permit. In cases where the period of study is less than one year, duration of the residence permit shall not exceed the period of study. Foreign students attending an associate degree, undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate program in Turkey may work, provided that they obtain a work permit. However the right for work for associate degree or undergraduate students starts after the first year of their study and weekly working hours shall not exceed twenty-four hours at maximum.

A long-term residence permit is regulated under Articles 42 to 45 of Law No. 6458. Pursuant to Article 42 of Law No. 6458, long-term residence permits shall be issued by the governorates, upon approval of the Ministry, to foreigners who have continuously resided in Turkey for at least eight years with a permit or, foreigners who meet the conditions set out by the Migration Policies Board. Pursuant to Article 43 of Law No. 6458, having a long-term residence permit depends on certain conditions such as having continuous residence in Turkey for at least eight years; not having received social assistance in the past three years; having sufficient and stable income to maintain themselves or, if any, support their family; be covered with a valid medical insurance; not being a threat for public order or public security.

A humanitarian residence permit may be issued under the conditions regulated under Article 46 of Law No. 6458, upon approval of the Ministry, with a maximum duration of one year at a time. A humanitarian residence permit may be granted and renewed by the governorates without seeking the conditions required for other types of residence permits. A related permit is generally issued in cases of extraordinary circumstances. Subject to the approval of the Ministry, the humanitarian residence permit shall be cancelled and shall not be renewed by the governorates in cases where the compelling conditions no longer apply.

A residence permit for victims of human trafficking is, as per Article 48 of Law No. 6458, a residence permit valid for thirty days which shall be granted to foreigners who are victims of human trafficking or where there is strong evidence that they might be victims of human trafficking in order to allow them to mitigate the impact of their negative experience and decide on whether they would like to cooperate with the competent authorities or not. The conditions required for issuing other types of residence permits shall not be required for the issuance of such permit. Such a residence permit is granted to allow for the recovery of the victims and may be renewed for periods of six months for reasons of safety, health or special circumstances of the victim. However, the total duration shall not exceed three years under any circumstances.

Application for Residence Permit

Applications for residence permit may be made to the consulates of Turkey in the foreigner's home country or, in certain cases, the application may be filed in Turkey.

In principle, applications for residence permits shall be filed to the consulates of Turkey in the foreigner's country of citizenship, or legal residence, as per Article 21 of Law No. 6458. Consulates shall convey the residence permit applications, together with their remarks, to the General Directorate. The General Directorate shall, after finalizing the assessment of the applications, inform the consulate to issue a residence permit or to refuse the application, seeking the opinion of the relevant institutions when and if necessary. The assessment of the applications shall be finalized within ninety days at the latest.

Applications for residence permits may be filed to the governorates in Turkey in certain exceptional cases. Where the related application is pertaining to a long-term residence permit, a student residence permit, a humanitarian residence permit and a residence permit for victims of human trafficking, it is possible to apply to the governorates in Turkey to obtain a residence permit. Moreover, in cases where there is an administrative or judicial decision, or when leaving Turkey is not reasonable and possible for the foreigner, an application may be made to the governorates in Turkey for obtaining the residence permit. The possibility to apply to the governorates in Turkey may also be used for a residence permit which conforms to the new reason for staying, in cases where the reason for which the valid residence permit was issued no longer apply or has been changed.

Renewal of Residence Permits

Pursuant to Article 24 of Law No. 6458, the duration of a residence permit may be extended by the governorates. Applications for renewal shall be made to the governorates within sixty days prior to the expiration of the residence permit and, in any case, before the expiration of the residence permit. Foreigners who apply for the extension of the duration of a residence permit shall be provided with a document; and even if their residence permits have expired, such foreigners may reside in Turkey by virtue of this document until the decision regarding their application has been taken.

Work Permit as Residence Permit

As a result of an increasing amount of foreign investment in Turkey, foreign citizens who come to Turkey for work has correspondingly increased. These foreigners are required to obtain a work permit as per Law No. 4817 on Work Permits of Foreigners.2

Within this framework, Article 27 of Law No. 6458 brings an important novelty; a valid work permit shall be considered as a residence permit. However, pursuant to Law No. 492 on Fees3, a residence permit fee equivalent to the duration of the work permit of such foreigners shall be collected.

Conclusion

Provisions pertaining to residence permits in Law No. 6458 are assessed in general under this Newsletter article where the obligation to obtain a residence permit, exemptions, application and renewal for such a permit have been detailed. One of the most important novelties of Law No. 6458 is that the work permit is a residence permit as of its entry into force, 11.04.2014.

Footnotes

1. For list of documentation, please see.http://yabancilar.iem.gov.tr/ikamet.html

2. Published on the Official Gazette dated 6 March 2003 and numbered 25040

3. Published on the Official Gazette dated 17 July 1964 and numbered 11756

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