What is the change? A new law in Turkey set to take effect in April will make significant changes to residence permit eligibility and other immigration procedures.

What does the change mean? The law will create several new residence permit categories and require most initial residence permit applications to be filed at a consular post overseas, as opposed to domestically.

  • Implementation timeframe: April 12. However, the Ministry of the Interior has indicated there will likely be a transition period to delay implementation.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residence permits, work permits, business visas, visitor visas.
  • Who is affected: Almost all foreign nationals including those on work permits, residence permits, and business visas.
  • Impact on processing times: Several of the changes (including removal of the need for a residence permit for those issued a work permit) will significantly reduce processing times.
  • Business impact: Many of the changes, once implemented, will positively impact business.
  • Next steps: Details on the new procedures have not been released, but companies should prepare for changes to residence permit applications in the near future. The Ministry of the Interior is expected to clarify how it will implement the new law, and consular posts will also release information on new filing procedures for resident permit applications.

Background: The Law on Foreigners and International Protection, Law No. 6458, is set to go into effect on April 12. The law will create a new Immigration Administration General Directorate under the Ministry of the Interior and revamp many existing rules and procedures.

“This is the most significant overhaul of immigration-related law in almost a decade,” said Maria Celebi, immigration attorney and partner at Bener Law Office in Istanbul. “Once all ministries implement the changes, we hope to see greater efficiency for transfer of employees, although transfer of their dependents may become somewhat more complicated.”

Here are a few of the main changes to residence permit rules:

  • Residence permits are now required for foreigners staying in Turkey for 90 days or more, rather than 30 days or longer under current law.
  • The law creates several new categories of residence permits including a long-term residence permit, a dependent residence permit for adult-age children, and residence permits for establishing a business or commercial connection, for in-service training programs, and for possession of real estate.
  • Foreigners must file for most types of initial residence permits at a Turkish consulate overseas, instead of in-country at a local police office.
  • Work permits will soon be issued inclusive of a residence permit. However, this version has not been issued yet.

Other procedural changes include:

  • A rule that currently applies to tourists will be expanded to business travelers. The rule prohibits a traveler from staying longer than 90 days within the previous 180 days.
  • Passports must be valid for at least 60 days beyond the validity period of the visa.
  • Sticker visas at the border will be replaced by electronic visas for eligible travelers.
  • Foreigners who violate the terms of their stay will be barred from reentry.

BAL Analysis: Employers should plan for the coming procedural changes, and in particular the new overseas filing requirement for most initial residence permit applications. The impact on processing times will be clearer when the consular posts set out the new documentary requirements and procedures. As for the new work permit that will double as a residence permit, companies should prepare to file as usual for a residence permit until the new version of the work permit is issued.

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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