Pursuant to Article 6 Paragraph 2 of the International Labor Force Law No. 6735 ("Law"), it is prohibited for persons who do not have citizenship ties with the State of the Republic of Turkey to work or be employed in Turkey without a work permit, except they are exempt from obtaining a work permit according to the Law, and unless otherwise stipulated in bilateral or multilateral agreements to which Turkey is a party, foreigners are required to obtain a work permit before starting work in Turkey in a dependent or independent manner. You can see the relevant exemptions set forth under the Regulation on the Implementation of the Labor Force Law No. 6735 by clicking on the following link: https://www.csgb.gov.tr/uigm/calisma-izni/calisma-izni-muafiyeti/muafiyetler/. The work permit application process is administered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security ("Ministry") and below is the brief information on the process in Q&A format:
- What are the types of work permits?
Under the Law, work permits are divided into four categories: (i) work permit for a definite period, (ii) work permit for an indefinite period, (iii) independent work permit, and (iv) work permit granted in exceptional circumstances. The Ministry also issues work permits based on international protection and temporary protection. The scope of this article will be limited to the procedure for the first-time application process for the work permit for a definite period. Also, the employment of foreign personnel by the special foreign investments are not included in the scope of this article.
- How to apply for a work permit for the first time?
The initial application for a work permit for a definite period can be made either from Turkey or abroad. The employer must submit the application to the Ministry fully online through the E-Permit website (https://ecalismaizni.csgb.gov.tr/eizin). If the employer representative does not have the necessary registration as the employer to carry out the transactions online, he/she first must complete the employer registration and proceed to the application stage by selecting the appropriate option from the "domestic initial application" and "international initial application" options. In addition, in order to complete the application, the employer's authorized person must sign the application with e-signature; so, if such person does not have an e-signature, he/she needs to obtain an e-signature before starting the process.
Application from Turkey: In order to apply from Turkey, the person who will apply for a work permit must have a valid residence permit for at least 6 (six) months. In addition, the validity period of the foreigner's passport must be at least 60 (sixty) days at the time of application.
Application from abroad: The application from abroad is made with a reference number that is obtained by the foreigner by applying to the Turkish Foreign Representative Office of the country of which the foreigner is a citizen or where the foreigner legally resides. An electronic application must also be made by the employer within 10 (ten) business days following the application. The foreigner is required to enter Turkey within 6 (six) months following the approval of the work permit and must be registered with the Address Registration System within 20 (twenty) days following his/her entry to Turkey.
- What are the documents required for the application?
The required documents are published on the Ministry's website: https://www.csgb.gov.tr/uigm/belgeler/izin-degerlendirme-sureci/. Please note that due to the rapid evolution of the practice, the list on the Ministry's website may not be up-to-date and, if possible, the accuracy of the list of required documents should be confirmed with the Ministry before the application is made. In the applications from abroad, the relevant Turkish Foreign Representative Office may request different documents depending on the county where the application is made.
- What are the important requirements for a work permit?
One of the important requirements for a work permit application is that at least five Turkish citizens must be employed in the workplace where the applicant will be employed. If a work permit is requested for more than one foreigner in the same workplace, five Turkish citizens are required to be employed for each foreigner after the first foreigner who is granted a work permit.
- How are work permit applications evaluated?
Work permit applications are evaluated by taking into account the situation in the Turkish labor market and developments in labor life, sectoral and economic conjuncture conditions regarding employment.
- What are the limitations on the salaries to be paid to a foreigner?
The amount of monthly salary declared by the employer to be paid to the foreigner must be at a level compatible with the duties and competence of the foreigner. Accordingly, the Ministry has determined the minimum wage amounts that must be declared according to the occupational definition of the foreigner who will be granted a work permit (https://www.csgb.gov.tr/uigm/calisma-izni/calisma-izni-degerlendirme-kriterleri/).
- How long does it take for the Ministry to evaluate the application?
The duly submitted work permit applications are finalized by the Ministry within 30 (thirty) days at the latest, provided that all required documents are submitted in a duly and complete manner. However, in practice, this period is usually shorter.
- How is the result of the application notified?
The decision of the Ministry (permission or rejection) is notified to the relevant employer via an e-mail. For applications made from abroad, the result is also notified to the relevant Turkish Foreign Representative Office online. If the application is approved, the work and residence permit fees and the visa fee must be paid. After the Turkish Foreign Representative Office affixes a visa sticker to the foreigner's passport, the employee will be able to enter Turkey. The work permit card issued by the Ministry is delivered to the employer's address by PTT Cargo.
- What can be done if the work permit application is rejected?
If the work permit application is rejected by the Ministry, the relevant persons may object against this decision within 30 (thirty) days from the date of notification by submitting an online petition with an explanation regarding the objection. In case the objection is rejected, an administrative lawsuit can be initiated.
- What is the period of the work permit?
The work permit issued for the first time can be for a maximum period of 1 (one) year and therefore the employment contract with the foreigner must also be for a maximum period of 1 (one) year.
- When should the employer register the employee with the Social Security Institution ("SSI")?
It is mandatory to register an employee with the SSI within 30 (thirty) days following the start date of the work permit for domestic applications and within 30 (thirty) days following the date of entry of the foreigner into the country for applications made from abroad. However, if the date of notification of the work permit to the employer and the start date of the work permit are different, the registration must be made within 30 (thirty) days following the date of notification of the work permit to the employer. The foreigner's SSI registration must be made at least based on the wage declared to the Ministry in the work permit application.
- What are the other obligations of the employers employing foreigners?
Employers employing foreigners are obliged to notify the Ministry within 15 (fifteen) days of the commencement and termination of work within the scope of work permit or work permit exemption, as well as any circumstances that may require the cancellation of the work permit or work permit exemption.
- Is the foreigner who obtained a work permit also obliged to obtain a residence permit?
No, the work permit or the work permit exemption that is granted in accordance with the Law also serves as a residence permit.
- What happens if a foreigner is employed without a work permit?
Foreigners working without a work permit and their employers are subject to administrative fines in accordance with Article 23 of Law. The administrative fines applicable for the year 2022 are as follows:
For the employer or employer's representative who employs a foreigner without a work permit (for each foreigner)
For foreigners working for an employer without a work permit
For a foreigner working independently without a work permit
TRY 12,854 (and the workplace is closed)
- For foreigners working independently or having a work permit for an indefinite period
- For employers who employ a foreigner (for each foreigner) who fail to fulfill the notification obligation stipulated in Article 22 of the Law within the prescribed period
The employer or the employer's representative who employs a foreigner who does not have a work permit is obliged to cover the accommodation expenses of the foreigner and his/her spouse and children, if any, the necessary expenses for their return to their country of origin and, if necessary, their medical expenses. In case of repeated unauthorized work, administrative fines are increased by one time. Foreigners found to be working without a work permit are reported to the Ministry of Interior for deportation.
- How to extend a work permit?
In order to extend an expired work permit, an extension application must be submitted within 15 (fifteen) days at the latest as of the expiry date. Extension applications made after this period are subject to the rules applicable to foreigners applying for the first time. An extension application can also be made prior to a maximum of 60 (sixty) days from the expiry date of the work permit.
If the work permit is extended, the start date of the new work permit shall be the expiry date of the expired work permit.
Foreigners who wish to work as an employee or employer in Turkey are required to apply for a work permit duly and submit their complete documents through the online application system. Although the general application process for the work permit for a definite period is as mentioned above, in concrete cases, the scope and reasons for applying for a work permit should be evaluated, the relevant legislation should be carefully examined, and the application should be made for the right type of work permit with all necessary documents in order to minimize the possibility of rejection of the application.
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.