What is the change? Turkey will implement new restrictions on in-country applications for residence permits, work permit conversions and Assembly and Maintenance Visa extensions.

What does the change mean? As of Jan. 1, foreign nationals will not be able to apply for initial residence permits, work permit conversions, and extensions of Assembly and Maintenance Service visas while in Turkey.

  • Implementation timeframe: Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residence permits,work permits, Assembly and Maintenance Service (AMS) visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for a residence permit for the first time, foreign nationals seeking to convert from or to a work permit, and foreigners wishing to extend an AMS visa.
  • Impact on processing times: The changes will require processing outside Turkey for some foreign nationals.
  • Business impact: The changes will mostly impact short-term business travelers who will no longer be able to travel to Turkey without a visa and obtain a temporary residence permit in-country.
  • Next steps: Employers and foreign nationals should begin to work with their BAL attorney now so they are not caught off guard by these new rules that take effect soon.

Background: Turkey passed a major overhaul of its immigration laws earlier this year, but many of the provisions have been delayed until Jan. 1 to allow time for consulates to implement the changes.

As of Jan. 1, there will be new restrictions on in-country applications. Foreign nationals who do not obtain a residence permit before Jan. 1, 2015 will only be able to apply for a work permit from the Turkish Consulate in their home country. This will also impact short-term travelers who in the past traveled to Turkey without a visa and obtained a temporary residence permit in-country for short-term work; under the new restrictions, they must apply for a visa from a Turkish Consulate. Foreign nationals who have a valid residence permit on Jan. 1 can apply for a work permit in Turkey. The restrictions on in-country processing do not affect work permit renewals.

Another change is that foreigners converting status from or to a work permit will no longer be able to do so in-country as of Jan. 1; they must apply outside Turkey.

In-country extensions of AMS visas will also be eliminated. The AMS visa allows foreign nationals to perform short-term activities of a hands-on or technical nature otherwise prohibited on a business visa. There has been no official announcement yet as to whether extending an AMS visa from outside Turkey will be possible.

BAL Analysis: Many companies have already begun choosing to apply for work permits from abroad for foreign employees, but short-term business travelers who in the past have applied in-country for temporary residence permits should be aware that they will have to apply for a business or AMS visa at a Turkish Consulate under the new rules.

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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