Immigration Categories

The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common category for corporate transfers in our experience is the work permit process. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (investors, special programs), please contact your representative.

Typical Process Overview

The following process overview is applicable to the work permit category. Approximate overall processing time from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in Turkey is one (1) to two (2) months. However, lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. In Turkey, the document gathering stage of the process will be very significant for certain categories of employee, e.g. engineers, architects and city planners. See “Application Materials” section below for further details. Processing time for each individual step is noted below.

Step One: Work Visa Submission
Processing Time: One (1) day

The work visa is applied for at the Turkish mission in the applicant’s home country.

Step Two: Work Permit
Processing Time:  Four (4) to Six (6) weeks

Up to ten (10) days after the work visa submission [i.e. within a ten (10) day timeframe], the work permit application must be filed at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The government offices will join the two (2) files in Turkey for processing and approval. Once the work permit application is approved, the Ministry sends a copy to the Turkish Consulate and then the visa can be collected. After the work permit is issued, the applicant has ninety (90) days to collect the visa and enter the country. This depends upon the each Turkish consulate overseas, since some consulate request for the visa to be collected in thirty (30) days.

Step Three: Work Visa Collection
Processing time: One (1) day

After the visa approval is sent to the Turkish mission in assignee home country, the assignee must again go to the consulate to get the work visa stamped on the passport.

Note: Some consulates may keep the passport for a few days depending on how busy they are.

Step Four: Address Registration
Processing Time:  Three (3) to four (4) working days

Upon assignees arrival into Turkey an application for Address registered has to be submitted within twenty (20) days at the Civil Registration Office with the assignee residency address in Turkey.

Step 5: Social Security enrollment (SGK) (taken care by the company)

Upon assignees arrival in Turkey he/she has to be registered to SGK in 30 days following            the entry date to Turkey or the certificate of coverage start date should include the period after the assignee has entered Turkey. This step is managed by the Turkish client company.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the work permit category described above will result in the obtention of the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, “Renewal.”

  • Work Permit (Calisma Izni): Up to twelve (12) months
  • Work Visa (Calisma Vizesi): Up to ninety (90) days

Renewal

  • Renewal is possible.
  • Renewal processes take one four (4) to sex (6) weeks from the date of filing the application; please allow two (2) weeks’ lead time for document gathering.
  • Documents will be renewed for two (2) years at the first extension and for three (3) years at the second extension.
  • Renewal applications for work permit can only be filed in the last two (2) months of the initial work permit validity.
  • Indefinite work can be applied for after eight (8) of uninterrupted work years.
  • Address Registration document should be updated only if the assignee has changed his/her residence in Turkey.

Deregistration

To ensure that assignees leave Turkey after the expiration of their permission to stay and to keep tabs on the number of foreign workers in the country, the government of Turkey requires all applicants to complete the following deregistration process upon departing the country:

  1. Host HR has to sign and return a letter, confirming the termination of the Employee contract or assignment along with the work permit copy, to the Ministry of Labor. The letter should state that deregistration date from SGK if the assignee is registered to SGK in Turkey. If the assignee is working with CoC, then the date should be his last working date.
  2. For Dependents; when the cancellation letter for the principal is issued by the Ministry of Labor [in three (3) to six (6) weeks], a copy is sent to the Immigration Bureau and the Residence Permit  for dependents will be cancelled, however the time taken to cancel the RP for family is unknown as it solely at the discretion of the authorities

Dependents

Dependent immigration status approval depends on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in Turkey with a work permit, the following rules apply for dependents:

  • Minimum age (spouses): N/A
  • Maximum age (children): Eighteen (18)
  • Unmarried partners: No
  • Same sex partners: No
  • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): No
  • Work authorization granted? No
    • Note that the Ministry of Labor & Social Security does not typically grant work permits for dual career couples on the basis that the family should be supported by one (1) worker only.
    • Spouses may be granted work permits provided that they have been accompanying the main work permit holder for five (5) consecutive years and have been residing in Turkey for five (5) consecutive years without interruption.
    • Spouses may be granted exceptional work permits where the main work permit holder is an EU country citizen and the spouse is NOT a citizen of an EU country.
  • Police Criminal Certificate (PCC) for the assignee and spouse is required to secure in the home country in order to process the Residence Permit for the family.

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. We will advise you in detail for your specific case; however, general application materials for the work permit category are noted below.

  • A variety of personal and corporate documents will be needed to support the application. Personal documents include: translated diploma, passport, CV, photo, specific application form and (only if there are children or spouse) birth and marriage certificates, passport copies, photos, PCC for the main applicant and spouse.
  • Corporate documents include: extract from Trade Registry Gazette demonstrating shareholding structures of Turkish company, e-statement from the Turkish social security office (SGK) showing previous month’s payment for all employees, copy of the signature circular, balance sheet, income/expense sheets, notarized POA.
  • Note that the above mentioned documents are examples of what will be required and that additional documentation will certainly be necessary. We can advise you of the exact documents required based upon the specifics of your case.

Business Visitors

  • Name of visa granted: Business Visa
  • Duration of stay: Up to three (3) months (Should not be confused with the validity of the visa which can be longer than the duration of stay). This has to be confirmed with the consulate. Some consulates give the visa with 30 days duration of stay.
  • General activities permitted: “business only”, generally defined as attending business meetings and seminars. If you are unsure whether your assignment may be considered business or not, please contact your representative.
  • Note that visas obtained on arrival are, strictly speaking, valid for tourism only. Business visitors should obtain business visas in advance.

Change of Status

Not applicable.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. In Turkey, the authorities will expect to see salary at the same level as a Turkish national would expect to receive for the same position and minimum amounts are defined for certain positions. Depending on the job title of the assignee, the salary figure has to be confirmed with the representative. Unless the assignee is one of the countries with which there is a reciprocity agreement regarding the Social Security Registration, the assignee has to be on local payroll. Please contact your representative for more details regarding your specific situation.

In general, the minimum salary requirement depends upon the job title and it is three (3) times the minimum wage for specialists, four (4) times the minimum wage for managers and 6,5 times the minimum wage for executives.

Who will work as engineers at the moment the minimum wage is 1647 TRY (revised twice a year).                                                                                                     The salary is considered the gross base amount from which the social security premiums are deducted. Incentives, housing, bonuses, any other benefit is not considered as salary.

Qualifications

Qualification requirements will vary from case to case and will depend on the immigration category under which the application is made. However, in general, the immigration authorities do expect to see an undergraduate degree. In some situations, a strong case may be made for applicants without a degree, as long as secondary level educational certificates can be submitted and provided their level of experience and industry specific qualification is high. Note that applicants with qualifications in certain areas (e.g. engineering) will need to have their qualifications attested by the Turkish authorities and must obtain equivalency documents if they will work as engineers. Please contact your representative for more details.

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. The company has to be established in Turkey with more than 100.000 TRY (Turkish Lira) paid capital or annual sales of 800.000 TRY or annual export of 250.000 USD
  2. Should have five (5) Turkish nationals employed under local payroll per foreign employee.
  3. The minimum salary requirement depends upon the job title. However it should be at least three (3) times the minimum wage for specialists, four (4) times the minimum wage for managers and 6.5 times the minimum wage for executives.
  4. For employees who are employed as engineers, their minimum wage should be 1647TRY (which is revised twice a year).
  5. The salary comprises the gross base amount from which the social security premiums are deducted. Incentives, housing, bonuses, any other benefit is not considered as salary.
  6. The payroll can be either under local Turkish entity or under home payroll.
  7. In case the payroll is under home country then it should be accompanied with a Certificate of Coverage, provided that the applicant is in one of the countries where there is a Social Security agreement. Split payroll is also encouraged.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact your representative immediately for further detailed advice.

  • Absence of degree.
  • Absence of relevant experience.
  • Insufficient compensation.
  • Due to pressure from the unions in Turkey, applicants with diplomas in fields “forbidden to foreign nationals”, which include but are not limited to, pharmaceuticals, medicine and law may be able to obtain work permit only if their job description clearly indicates that they will not practice their professions. Engineering is not forbidden but has additional steps and the process is more complex. The applicants with engineering degrees will need to obtain “equivalency documents” for their qualifications if they will work as engineers. This can extend processing time by six (6) months or more.
  • Dual career couples typically are not both granted work permits; see “Dependents” above.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The Turkish government takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance range from fines to deportation and even imprisonment.

Employee Penalties: Below fees were set for 2015, however slight changes are expected in 2016.

  • A foreigner that works dependently without a working permission is fined with an administrative penalty of 835 TL. In case of repeated action the administrative penalties are applied as one fold increased.
  • Administrative penalty of 3350 TL is given to the foreigner that works independently without having a working permission given in accordance with this Law. The decision is also taken by the Ministry area directors to have his/her workplace or workplaces, if any, closed and the situation is informed to the governorship to have this decision implemented. In case it is repeated, administrative penalty is applied as one fold increased besides having the workplace or workplaces closed, if any.

 

Employer Penalties:

  • An administrative penalty of 8381 TL is given to the employer or employer representatives for each foreigner that doesn’t have working permission. In this case, the employer or representative of employer is obliged to cover the accommodation expenses of the foreigner and his/her spouses and children, if any, the expenditures required for them to return to their countries and their health expenses when required. In case of repeated action the administrative penalties are applied as one fold increased.
  • For late or non-notification (for cancellations etc.) the fee is 417 TRY.

 

The foreigners working dependently and independently and the employers that employ foreigners, fined with administrative penalty according to this Law are notified to the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

For Specific details of penalties, please contact your representative.

Bilateral Agreements

Nationals from Northern Cyprus may not work as Turkish citizens without the need for work or residence permits. However, in many cases, Northern Cypriots do still apply for work permits since these are often necessary to facilitate moving to Turkey, for example, for importing furniture or cars.