What is the change? Turkey has published regulations on its “Turquoise Card” program for foreign nationals who meet certain education, wage, investment or other select criteria.

What does the change mean? Turquoise Cards will be available for foreign nationals in one of five categories: (1) highly qualified workers, (2) investors, (3) scientists or researchers, (4) athletes or artists, or (5) specialists in Turkey or Turkish culture. Turquoise Card holders will be afforded work authorization for an indefinite term following a three-year conditional period.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The regulations were published Monday; however, applications are not yet being accepted online. Hard copy applications may be submitted in person.
  • Visas/permits affected: Turquoise Cards.
  • Who is affected: Non-Turkish highly qualified workers, investors, scientists, researchers, athletes, artists, specialists in Turkey or Turkish culture and their family members.
  • Next steps: The regulations published this week are meant to put the program in motion, but some processes must still be finalized.

Background: The Turquoise Card was introduced in an immigration law published Aug. 13, 2016 and regulations were published this week.

Authorities will score Turquoise Card applications based on different criteria, depending on the category under which a foreign national is applying. The scoring system for highly qualified workers, for instance, will take into account level of education, the prestige of universities the applicant attended, salary level, foreign language abilities and professional experience. Those applying in the investor category will be judged based on the amount of their investment, the number of people they employ and Turkey’s strategic need for their particular type of investment, among other criteria.

Those who qualify for Turquoise Cards will be granted indefinite work authorization following a three-year conditional period. Card holders must file a status report annually and apply for a permanent card within 180 days before expiration of their conditional card. Dependents of Turquoise Card holders will be granted residence permits. Applicants should note that Turquoise Cards will be canceled for card holders who remain outside of Turkey for six months or more, except in certain cases due to unforeseen circumstances.

BAL Analysis: The program will provide a new route for Turkish residence and work authorization for highly qualified workers, investors and others covered by the program. Contact BAL about whether you may qualify for a Turquoise Card in one of the above-listed categories.

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

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