• New Law to Place Restrictions on Business Visitors, Cause Gradual Changes to Residence Permit Rules
  • April 10, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A new immigration law will gradually introduce changes in procedures and requirements beginning on April 12, 2014, although the government has yet to release guidance about how the changes will be applied in practice or how individual implementation dates will be scheduled.

    It is expected, however, that the first four changes listed below will be rolled out first, on April 12, 2014.

    Residence Permits Required Only for Stays Beyond 90 Days
    Residence permits will only be required for foreign nationals who intend to remain in Turkey for more than 90 days. Currently, a residence permit is required for a stay of more than 30 days.

    Restrictions on Business Visitor Stays
    Business visitors will be limited to a maximum cumulative stay of 90 days during any 180-day period (counted from the first entry date). This restriction currently applies only to tourists.

    Increased Passport Validity
    Foreign nationals will need to hold a passport valid for a minimum of 60 days beyond their intended stay. Currently, the passport must be valid solely for the period of intended stay.

    Proof of Funds and Health Insurance for Most Visa Applicants
    Applicants for any visa that is not a work visa may be required to demonstrate (either at the consulate or port of entry) that they have sufficient funds for their intended visit. It is not yet known whether the government will set a particular amount, or if consular and border officials will have the discretion to determine if the foreign national’s funds are sufficient. Evidence of valid health insurance will be required.

    New Categories of Residence Permits and Changes in Filing Procedures
    Several new residence permit categories will be introduced for foreign nationals who intend to open a business or buy real estate in Turkey, some long-term tourists and dependent adult family members.

    Most initial residence permits will need to be filed at a Turkish consulate outside Turkey and not at a local police office after arrival in Turkey, which is the current procedure.

    In addition, foreign nationals who wish to work in Turkey will no longer have to apply for a separate residence permit because work permits will authorize both employment and residence. As the implementation date of this policy is not yet known, foreign nationals should continue to apply for residence permits until advised otherwise.

    Additional Requirements for Dependent Residence Permits
    New criteria for Dependent Residence Permits (which dependents of residence permit applicants may obtain) will require the principal residence permit applicant/holder to demonstrate that he or she has not been convicted of a domestic violence offense within the previous five years. The principal applicant/holder will also need to demonstrate that he or she can provide adequate accommodation for all dependent family members.

    No guidance has yet been provided about the exact documentation that will be required to satisfy these new criteria; but foreign nationals should be prepared to provide police clearances spanning five years of residence immediately preceding the application.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Although the first four changes expected to take effect on April 12 have clear guidance, guidelines for the other reforms have yet to be issued. Until the government finalizes its interpretation of the remaining provisions, their effect on employers will not be fully known. Employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for additional documentary requirements, changes in procedures without notice and delays associated with the implementation of the new law.