Turkish Labor Law grants foreigners the right to work in Turkey by obtaining a residence or work permit from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The decisions to grant permits are influenced by the needs of the market for foreign labor and certain criteria regarding the general plan of the state. The main objective of this article is to point out the regulations and legal procedures of residence and work permit applications for foreigners in Turkey.
Regulations and legal procedures of residence permits and visa requirements are regulated through the Law on Foreigners and International Protection ("Foreigners Law"). It mentions the scope and application of the protection provided for the foreigners seeking such protection from Turkey. On the other hand, the procedures regarding the work permit applications are regulated under the International Labor Force Law ("Work Permit Law").
Visa requirements and residence permits
The Foreigners Law stipulates that foreigners willing to stay in Turkey up to 90 days are required to have a visa mentioning the purpose of their visit.
Visa applications are submitted through consulates in the foreigner's country of nationality or residence. There are specific visa exceptions granted through the bilateral agreements and/or by the decree of the Cabinet. The law also provides that the holders of a valid residence or work permit are exempt from the visa requirement.
Foreigners who want to stay in Turkey more than 90 days are also required to have a residence permit. It should be noted that the residence permit will become invalid unless it is used within six months after issuance.
Applications for residence permits should be submitted to Turkish consulates in the foreigner's country of nationality or residence. There are also specific exemptions provided for the requirement of obtaining a residence permit. In accordance with the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, the applications for the residence permit shall be concluded within 90 days of application. However, authorities may extend the application process until the missing documents, if any, are submitted.
The types of the residence permits specified under the Foreigners Law are short-term residence permits, family residence permits, student residence permits, long-term residence permits, humanitarian residence permits and residence permits for victims of human trafficking. The Foreigners Law mandates different qualification standards for each different type.
As a general rule, residence permit applications are supposed to be submitted to Turkish consulates in the foreigner's country of nationality or residence as mentioned. Nevertheless, foreigners applying for student residence permits, long-term residence permits, humanitarian residence permits and residence permits for the victims of human trafficking can submit their applications in Turkey.
The applications for the renewal of the residence permits must be made 60 days before its expiration.
Foreigners Law regulates that work permits or documents about the confirmation of exemptions will be evaluated also as residence permits, and the foreigners will be charged for residency as well during the duration of the work permit.
To work in Turkey, foreigners should obtain a work visa, in addition to that, they will also need to get a work permit. The law concerning work permits for expatriates, No. 4817, dated March 6, 2003, has introduced major changes in Turkish law. One of the most significant changes is that the competent authority for the work permits will be the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The new law introduced four types of work permits. Each type will be mentioned in detail below:
The types of work permits mentioned in the Work Permit Law are: work permits for a definite period, work permits for an indefinite period and other types of work permits.
A work permit for a certain period will be granted for at most one year, provided that the length of the work permit does not exceed the time of the foreigner's employment contract. In case of a renewal, the work permit may be granted for two years at most for the first renewal application and for three years at most for the following renewal applications. It must be noted that the work permit applications for occupations under different employers will not be considered as renewal applications.
The work permits for indefinite period may be granted to foreigners who hold a long-term residence permit or obtained work permits for at least eight years. The application for a work permit for indefinite period may still be rejected even though the foreigner fits all the requirements.
Other types of work permits consist of those granted for the shareholders and managers of commercial companies. Accordingly, it is stated that foreigners who are both a manager and shareholder of a limited company, and foreigners who are both a member of the board and shareholder of a joint stock company are entitled to obtain a work permit.
In addition to these regulations, the Work Permit Law and the Regulation on the Turquoise Card provides an opportunity for foreigners to obtain a residence and work permit for an indefinite period.
* Istanbul-based lawyer
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