What is the change? Turkey has tightened its rules for in-country processing of initial work permits and is now also requesting foreign police clearances for dependent residency applications.

What does the change mean? Foreign employees applying for initial work permits based on a six-month resident permit will soon no longer be able to apply in-country to change status. In a separate matter, foreign employees applying for residency permits for their dependents should expect new document requests, including foreign police clearances, at the discretion of police stations.

  • Implementation timeframe: Official implementation dates have not been set, but the rules may take effect in practice, depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits; residence permits for dependents.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for initial work permits based on a six-month residency permit and foreign nationals applying for residency permits for their dependent family members.
  • Impact on processing times: While there is no direct impact on processing times, both rules will cause inconvenience in the overall timing of the application processes.
  • Business impact: The stricter rules will add time and expense to these procedures, as some foreign nationals will have to travel outside Turkey to apply and others will have to undergo the lengthy process of obtaining police clearances from their home countries.
  • Next steps: Employers should make sure foreign employees are aware of the new limitations.

Background: Turkey recently revamped its residency regime and last week both rules were announced informally. The Ministry of Labor indicated that it would no longer accept initial work permit applications filed in Turkey by foreigners holding resident permits of six months or longer. This change is likely based on the new Residence Permit Law, even though the law does not explicitly mention this type of in-country filing. The Ministry of Labor is expected to clarify this rule soon, but an official implementation date has not been set.

The second change was announced by the newly created Migration Directorate, which indicated that police stations are authorized to request additional documentation in residence permit cases. The extra documentation may include foreign police clearances and biometric photos. The requests are left to the discretion of individual police stations, but foreign employees should note that the main police station in Istanbul has confirmed that officers will require a foreign police clearance for a principal applying for a spouse and foreign police clearances for both parents if applying for a child.

According to Maria Celebi, a partner with Bener Law Office in Istanbul, the additional request for foreign police clearance “is likely to cause frustration for some time, particularly since police officers are not accustomed to reviewing foreign police clearance documentation and have no idea how long they may take to be issued in some countries.”

BAL Analysis: Turkey is in the midst of a major overhaul of its immigration rules, and employers should be aware that many of them are still in flux during the implementation phase. Employers are encouraged to flag these upcoming changes for foreign employees, as they will impact travel schedules and overall timelines for foreign workers and their family members.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Turkey. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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