What is the change? Under a sudden change in procedures, foreign nationals residing in Istanbul who want to renew their resident permits must now schedule an appointment online and appear at the Immigration Department in Istanbul to present their supporting documents, which must be apostilled in their home country.

What does the change mean? The Istanbul Immigration Department will no longer accept mailed documents for resident permit extensions. This change may lengthen overall time frames for resident permit extensions and complicate travel plans for applicants who need to leave Turkey during the extension process. Currently, appointments are booked five to six months in advance.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Resident permits. The policy does not affect or change the initial resident permit process or the work permit extension process.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals and dependents living in Istanbul and applying to renew their resident permits.
  • Impact on processing times: Affected applicants should anticipate longer overall time frames.
  • Business impact: The change adds to the administrative requirements; foreign residents in Istanbul should be prepared for the additional step when extending resident permits.

Background: Previously, foreign residents were able to extend their resident permits online and then mail their documents to the Immigration Department. As of this week, the Immigration Department stopped accepting mailed documents, instead requiring applicants residing in Istanbul to appear in-person with their documents.

Many supporting documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and police clearance records, must be apostilled by the relevant government authority in the country where they were issued. This process can be lengthy.

During the appointment, if immigration officers request additional documentation, applicants will be given 30 days to complete the request, if they do not provide the additional documents (which may also require apostilles) within that time, the application will be rejected and the applicant must book a new appointment.

BAL Analysis: Foreign residents in Istanbul applying to extend their resident permits should plan well in advance and factor in additional time for original apostilled documents and the mandatory appointment. Please note that the online system will not allow extension applicants to book an appointment until they are within 60 days of the expiration of their resident permit. At present, the system is granting random appointment dates five to six months in advance. As a result, extension applicants run the risk of having their resident permit expire before they attend their appointment. Individuals needing to travel outside Turkey under such circumstances should contact their BAL professional to obtain a visitor visa and ensure that they maintain valid status during the pendency of their extension application.

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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