TURKEY | New Act Brings Sweeping Changes to Immigration Process

While recent weeks have been challenging ones for foreign nationals in Turkey, especially with the failed coup and imposition of the State of Emergency Act (See our Immigration Dispatch of August 16-22), foreign nationals and their employers received some welcomed news this month. A new law making sweeping changes to the Turkish immigration system was enacted and published August 13 in the T.C. Resmi Gazette, the official government journal of new laws. Once implemented into practice, the new Law on International Workforce should provide employers more flexibility in hiring or posting foreign employees in Turkey.

Among the provisions, this new act calls for:

  • Creation of a new International Workforce Policy Board under the Ministry of Labor to establish new policies for foreign workers;
  • New points-based system for evaluating work permit applications;
  • New work permit category, called the “Turquoise Card,” for foreign nationals who meet certain educational, professional, or investment requirements. Holders of the Turquoise Card will have much the same rights as Turkish citizens and their dependents granted long-term residence permits. This new permit would be issued for an initial three-year conditional period with the potential of being extended indefinitely;
  • New independent work permit category for qualified foreign workers which does not require a sponsoring employer. Qualifications for this new category will be set by the new International Workforce Policy Board based on the needs of the Turkish labor market, but the category is certain to include engineers and architects at its outset;
  • New work permit exemption for foreign board members of certain companies, non-executive partners, and international service workers good for stays under 90 days;
  • New pre-approval requirement for medical and academic workers to have permission to work in their fields from the applicable professional authorities; and
  • Loosening of some current rules, including lengthening the time that a foreign national has to arrive in Turkey after the work permit is granted from three months to six months.