In 2010, Turkiye's Work Permit Directorate imposed a rule that in order for a Turkish employer to be eligible to sponsor a work permit, it must meet a 5:1 ratio of Turkish workers to foreign workers. This ratio is calculated per worksite and must be evidenced on the Social Security payroll records of the company sponsor. Called the "5:1 Rule", this sponsorship criteria has been one of the most challenging aspects of Turkish work permit requirements.

This challenge led to the development of exemptions to the 5:1 rule. The exemptions are found both in communiques and official website references. Depending on the type of exemption, the exemption may be filed as a request prior to the filing of a work permit application, or may be requested concurrently with the filing of the work permit. The exemption normally attaches to a particular foreigner's case, in that their case will not need evidence of 5 Turkish employees per foreigner on payroll for their worksite.

Work Permit exemptions to the 5:1 rule (and may also include exemption to capital requirements):

  • When the foreigner will work on a product and service procurement for public institutions or by public tender, OR when the application is subject to a bilateral or multilateral agreement to which Turkey is a party.
  • If there is evidence the foreigner's position requires advance technology (and that a Turkish national specialist couldn't be found).
  • For a Turkish Liaison Office, under certain criteria, the 5:1 ratio will not be counted against the work permit for the General Manager/Company Representative.
  • For the spouse of a Turkish national, who has been married for 3 years or more.
  • For the Key Personnel of a company which qualifies under the Foreign Direct Investment Law. Note that both the employee and the Turkey employer must meet the qualifications under the FDI Law for this exemption.
  • For foreigners who will be employed in the Education Sector, as household workers, or at Branches of Foreign Public Airlines.

Less utilized exemptions include:

  • A newly established legal entity as founded by a foreign individual. If that investor owns at least 20% (but amounting to not less than TRY 40K) worth of shares of the entity, and that within 6 months, the 5 employee criteria can be met, a work permit may be approved for the foreign partner/investor) ;
  • Liaison Offices of a foreign public airline company is exempt from 5:1 ratio and the requirement to show a $200.000 USD money transfer from abroad.

Note there do not exist guidelines or official suggestions on the particular documents needed to evidence qualification. Some exemptions in practice are particularly difficult to obtain, including the advance technology exemption. However, with the appropriate documentation and guidance, exemptions can be an excellent way for a company to avoid this requirement.

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.