Turkey: The Law On International Labor Force

Last Updated: 22 June 2017
Article by Serkan Şahin and Halil İbrahim Kovar

The Law on International Labor Force ("The Law") numbered 6735 has entered into force by publication in the Official Gazette dated 13 August 2016. The Law brings into notable changes for the work permit system in Turkey and outlaws the existing Law on Work Permits for Foreigners numbered 4817. This article prepared by Sahin Law Firm aims to provide brief information on the legal procedures and significant principles regarding work permit and work permit exemption that will be granted to foreigners.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of that new Law was to introduce an effective tool to achieve the right balance between the protection of local employment and to relax the barriers to high-skilled foreign labor, take the different realities of various sectors in the Turkish labor market into account, constitute an effective, transparent and predictable legislation and to create an hybrid labor immigration system.

The Law includes foreigners who apply for working or currently work, apply for having or currently having occupational training from an employer, apply to do internship or currently doing their internship in Turkey and foreign cross-border service providers who are in Turkey for rendering temporary services and real and legal entities which employ or apply to employ foreigners. Also, procedures and transactions in relation to foreigners who are exempt from having work permit are carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

First Detections

First detections about new changes on immigration regulation which has been brought by The Law are as follows:

  • Establishment of Turkish International Labor Force Policy Advisory Board and General Directorate of International Labor Force within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security,
  • An easier legal procedure for students, engineers and architects,
  • A convenient and positive approach to investors and highly skilled employees by means of a Turquoise Card granting permanent residency rights to individuals and dependents,
  • The opportunity to work in various workplaces within the same line of business,
  • Work permit to be granted to the foreigners who do or apply for internship in Turkey,
  • Work permit to be granted to the spouse of the individual without the requirement of five years residence permit,
  • Independent work permit to be granted without the requirement of five years residence permit.

Turkish International Labor Force Policy Advisory Board and General Directorate

The Law introduces a new Turkish International Labor Force Policy is determined by taking into consideration the international labour mobility and regional developments as well as decisions of the Migration Policies Board; developments regarding employment and work life; sectoral and economic periodical changes; development plans and programmes; economic, social and cultural relations with the country of which the foreigner is a citizen; bilateral or multilateral agreements or international conventions of which Republic of Turkey is a party; public order; public security and public health. The Turkish International Labor Force Policy Advisory Board will be established to define this policy. Also General Directorate of International Labor Force is established within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Work Permits

Work permit application process is mostly similar to the Law numbered 4817 that applications can be filed both from within and outside Turkey. The new labor law was constituted in to three types of the regular permit for foreigners and was divided in two defined and indefined period:

  • a definite term work permit (a maximum of one year for the first application),
  • an indefinite term work permit (foreigners granted a long term residence permit or a minimum of eight years legal work permit) or
  • an independent work permit to be granted for a definite time.

Statutory managers of limited liability companies, who are also shareholders of the relevant company, Board of directors' members of joint stock companies, who are also shareholders of the relevant company, Commandite shareholders of partnerships in commendams, the capital of which is divided into shares are required to obtain an independent work permit for working in Turkey.

Turquoise Card

In accordance with international labour policy, Turquoise Card is given to the foreigners whose application is approved according to their education, experience, contribution in science and technology, the impact of their activity or investment in Turkey on the economy and employment in the country as well as the recommendations of the International Labour Policy Advisory Board and procedures and principles determined by the Ministry.

Turquoise Card is a certificate giving rights granted by an indefinite term work permit to the foreigners and residence permit right to his/her spouse and dependent children in accordance with the provisions of relevant legislation. Turquoise Card is granted for a transition period for first three years. The application for extension should be filed within 180 days before or in any case prior to the expiry date of the Turquoise Card. Turquoise Card, then, shall be extended for an indefinite period of time. Unless the extension request is filed before the expiry date, extension request shall be declined and the Turquoise Card shall be cancelled.

Work Permit Exemptions

The Law brings work permit exemptions for Board of directors' members of joint stock companies who is not Turkish resident, Shareholders of other companies who is not titled as a manager and Cross border service providers whose services in Turkey is not exceed 90 (ninety) days in a 180 (one hundred and eighty) day period. The exemption grants the right to work and reside in Turkey without the need for a work permit. The foreign national shall apply directly to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security or to the Consulates for a "work permit exemption certificate".

Exemptions regarding the implementation of work permit of this Law can be granted to the foreigners who are;

  • Evaluated as qualified labour according to their education, wage, professional experience, contribution in science and technology and similar traits,
  • Evaluated as qualified investor according to their contribution in science and technology, investment or export level, size of the employment they will provide and similar traits,
  • Employed in a project carried out in Turkey for a temporary period,
  • Reported to be of Turkish origin by the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
  • Citizen of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,
  • Citizen of an EU member state,
  • Holder of international protection status, conditional refugee status, temporary protection or stateless or human trafficking victim who are benefiting from victim support process in accordance with the Law no 6458,
  • Married to a Turkish citizen and living with his/her spouse in Turkey within marriage union,
  • Working in the representations of foreign states and international organizations in Turkey without diplomatic immunity,
  • Coming to Turkey for scientific, cultural, artistic or sportive purposes with international success in his/her field,
  • Cross-border service providers.

Foreigners who are granted the titles engineer or architect by completing their education in engineering or architecture faculties in a higher education institution in Turkey or a higher education institution abroad which are recognized by the authorities of the relevant country and the Council of Higher Education, are able to carry out engineering and architecture activities on project basis or for temporary periods by taking work permit.

Foreigners who have work permit, work permit exemption the employers who employ foreigners shall fulfill their liabilities arising from the social security legislation.


In the near future with the introduction of the forthcoming implementation regulation of the Law will surely provide further details on unclear areas. With this law, an important step was taken in order to redefine and accelerate Turkey's international labor policies. Hope this change will affect immigration process of Turkey positively. We will keep you updated on the matter.

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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