Citizenship through real estate purchase limit to be reduced

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

The granting of Turkish citizenship to foreigners who purchase at least $1 million of real estate in Turkey came to the fore again backstage of the international real estate Cityscape fair, which was held in Dubai and attracted great interest from foreign investors. Work to decrease the limit of real estate purchase has started, according to a report by Turkish daily Habertürk. Although it was not announced how much the amount would be lowered, discussions regarding the issue have begun.

Representatives of the real estate sector, in their earlier statements, asked for the figure to be lowered. Sector representatives, who said that the figure was high, stated that a figure of around $500,000 would attract more investors to Turkey. Environment and Urbanization Minister Mehmet Özhaseki, who visited Turkish stands at Cityscape in Dubai, stated that since the year the reciprocity law was enacted in 2012, the number of foreign citizens who bought real estate in Turkey reached around 160,000 and that they have bought around 77,750 houses, workplaces and land.

Özhaseki said that 32,300 people from Gulf countries purchased 16,000 immovable properties and indicated that there is an increase in applications for Turkish citizenship by buying real estate. "The Interior Ministry is examining this issue. There is an effort in the world to attract educated, knowledgeable people from abroad; we are also engaging in this endeavor," he said.

In mid-January, Turkey introduced a legislative amendment in the country's citizenship law, which stipulates that foreigners would be granted citizenship via four types of investment choices, including a real-estate investment of $1 million. In particular, the real-estate option was expected to boost Turkey's real estate market and increase the ratio of real estate purchased by foreign investors.

Granting citizenship to foreigners in return for a determined amount of investment is a global phenomenon applied in many developed and developing countries, such as the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Australia, the Dominican Republic and Bulgaria. The growing phenomenon of "buying citizenship" is defined as "economic citizenship" by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The rising trend of economic citizenship has gained momentum in Turkey as well with the recent amendment to the citizenship law of the country. "The Regulation on the Amendment of the Regulation on the Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law" has been adopted after an amendment to Article 20 of the regulation, which concerns the acquisition of Turkish citizenship exclusively, documents required for application and transactions to be carried out.

According to the amendment, those found by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry to have purchased at least $1 million worth of immovable properties without selling them within three years of purchase would be eligible to acquire Turkish citizenship, subject to a Council Of Ministers authorization.

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