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Coming to Turkey to Work

This guide was written by Başak Yıldız Orkun, Managing Partner at Orkun & Orkun (info@orkunorkun.com) in collaboration with Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 24 May 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is about working visas for Turkey - if they're available, to whom, and how to get them.

You may also want to watch the video version of this guide or download the audio (MP3) guide.

Introduction

Just to be clear, this guide does not apply if you merely wish to come to Turkey on a business trip: to meet clients, investigate the market, hold meetings etc. For those purposes you may visit on a simple tourist visa. Strictly speaking, you should apply for a special short-term visa to come for a meeting, conference etc. In practice, almost everybody will travel for these purposes on a tourist visa.

Otherwise, whether you just want a summer job in Turkey or you wish to settle down and work there for good, you'll need a visa. Unfortunately, work visas in Turkey are not very easy to obtain. There is a fairly high level of unemployment in Turkey (11.8% in March 2017) and the government wants to protect the employment of its own people. However, if you have skills that are needed – say, a teacher of French, a nanny or a seasonal worker in a hotel who speaks a language that is in demand – getting a visa is still fairly simple. If you have work skills that are widely available in Turkey (e.g. a motor mechanic) it is almost impossible to obtain a work visa.

Can I get a working visa for Turkey?

Each job for which a visa might be obtained has an eligibility criteria list and a minimum permitted wage.

The length of your visa depends upon the length of your contract: say, three months for a summer post in a hotel or 12 months for a teacher. Few companies offer contracts over 12 months, although it is allowed.

Each work permit is job-specific. It is not a general permit to work in Turkey. So, for example, you might obtain a work permit to teach French at a particular college. You cannot simply change jobs and work somewhere else: even as a French teacher. You (and your new employer) would need to apply for a new work permit.

If you have held a work permit for seven years you will no longer need to renew it: you can be given a permanent residence permit as a working resident. You are then free to change jobs as you please.

In addition to your visa allowing you to work in Turkey, you will also need a residence permit (see below).

There is a general type of working visa (which applies to almost all situations), but there are also special types of working visa.

These include visas for:

The requirements for each of these visas can be found on the Turkish government’s visa website or, in slightly more detail, on the Turkish consular website for your own country. For example, for those traveling from the UK, see here.

To apply for a general visa, you start off with the Pre-Application System (PAS). This is an online system, under which applicants enter all of their details and, once the application has been accepted, receive an appointment to visit their local Turkish consulate for the rest of the process to be carried out.

Once that has been accepted, you will have to apply for an appointment to visit your local Turkish consulate.

It is important that the information in the documents you provide (below) and the information in your online application is exactly the same. If it is not, your application will be rejected and you will have to start all over again. The application must be made before the proposed start date for your employment.

How can a foreigner apply for a Turkish work permit?

The process of applying for a work permit is in two stages. The application must be made in person.

Stage 1

You will make an appointment to attend your consulate. The appointment will be confirmed to you by email.

At that appointment, you will need to produce the following documents:

Some further notes:

Stage 2

One the first stage has been completed - and your forms accepted - you'll be sent a visa reference. This will take about ten days. You should forward this reference onto your prospective employer.

The employer must then lodge the employment application with the Ministry of Labour (via their website) within ten days. If the employer misses this deadline, you'll need to start all over again.

The Ministry of Labour will assess your application and respond (either to you or your employer) in four to six weeks. If you were successful, you can then pick up your visa from the consulate.

Duration of visa and fees (2017)

Can you claim social security on a working visa?

As a person working in Turkey, you will be paying tax and social security payments in Turkey.

You will be entitled to social security and other benefits on the basis of the payments that you’ve made.

How long does it take?

Obtaining a work visa is, theoretically, doable in two months, but I highly recommend that you start the process at least three months in advance. Delays happen often.

Professional advice for getting a Turkish work permit

Applying for a work visa is always complicated.

The rules are restrictive. An application expressed one way can fail whereas an almost identical application, but expressed in a way that takes full advantage of the rules, can succeed.

The application forms are also far from clear (particularly for someone who is not a native Turkish speaker) and the way they are interpreted will vary from consulate to consulate.

It is, therefore, strongly recommended that you seek the advice of a specialist in immigration law before you complete and submit your application for a visa. This will make it much less likely that you make a mistake in the application (and so have to start the process all over again) and it can save you a large amount of time and frustration.

It could also open your eyes to some possibilities you had previously not considered.

Conclusion

In almost every country, a working visa is the most difficult to obtain. Turkey is no different. If you're lucky enough to be skilled in the right field, you might find it relatively simple to get a working permit - if not, and if your heart is still set on it, a professional will be able to give you advice as to proceeding.

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
The Immigration System in Turkey
An overview
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey as a Student
Visa & immigration information for foreign students
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey to Retire
Visa & immigration information for foreigners wanting to retire in Turkey
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey to Start a Business
Visa & immigration information for foreigners wanting to set up their own business in Turkey
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey to Join Your Family
How do you join a family member who already has Turkish residence?
Click to see this guide
Residence Permits in Turkey
How to apply for, and renew, short- and long-term residence permits in Turkey
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey via Residence for Investment
The "golden visa"
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey on a "Turquoise Visa"
The special Turkish visa for people valuable to the country
Click to see this guide
Coming to Turkey as an Asylum Seeker/Refugee
The rules surrounding refugees in Turkey
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
Residence in Turkey
Government information (in English) about the types of residency permit available for Turkey
Residence in Turkey
Application form for Residence Permit in Turkey
Government application form for residence (non-working) permit in Turkey
Application form for Residence Permit in Turkey
How to Get a Work Permit in Turkey
From the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey
How to Get a Work Permit in Turkey
Citizenship Information for Turkey
Click the 'citizenship' tab.
Citizenship Information for Turkey
Information for Refugees in Turkey
From the United Nations.
Information for Refugees in Turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Başak Yıldız Orkun

24 May 2017


 

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