It was written on 10 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 Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.
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This guide is a brief overview of the Turkish immigration system - there are lots of links to specific visa and residence information, but this is a good place to start.
Immigration into Turkey has changed a lot in recent years. Generally, it's easier. We have a more settled system with only one department - the Department of Immigration - in charge. Thank goodness. A great deal of information is now available online. All of this is a huge change from only ten years ago!
In Turkey, we recognise that we're not the most popular choice for working immigrants (although we're now seeing a greater influx of workers from the Middle East). Because of this, the government does not set undue obstacles to employers wishing to hire foreign workers. However, we are keen to preserve jobs for our locals, and so there are certain fields in which it's nearly impossible for a foreigner to work in.
If you want to move to Turkey and not work, it's very easy. Retiring to Turkey is as simple as getting a residence permit (see below).
Although the system is easier than many countries, it is important to stress that you need to get your application right - and get it right the first time. If you're missing a document it can delay your visa for months. If you're rejected entirely, it's very hard to get authorities to change their mind. That's why we recommend seeking professional advice when applying for a visa to Turkey.
This new Turquoise Visa (turquoise being the national colour of Turkey) was announced on 14 March 2017. See our Guide to the Turquoise Visa for information and updates.
Turkey is host to a fair amount of international students, although their arrival has been fairly recent. Most come from from Turkic countries (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) or regions (Western China). Turkish education is known in those places as being of particularly high quality.
See our Guide to Coming to Turkey as a Student for more information.
Getting a work visa for Turkey depends hugely on the field in which you want to work. As with most countries, this is one of the harder visas to obtain.See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to work for more information.
A person wishing to live in Turkey will, in the cases mentioned above, need a special visa authorising entry to the country. However, in other cases, they will merely need a residence permit.
Any person who wishes to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in a 180-day period requires a residence permit. This is the case whether they wish to stay in Turkey to study, to work, or simply to pass their time during retirement as people who are ‘economically inactive’.
This need for two documents is merely a reflection of the way in which the Turkish visa system is organised. In practical terms, in both cases you will need to produce the required documentation and show that you have a valid basis to be in the country.
However, it’s important to realise that if you are a person who requires a visa to enter the country (whether to work or to study) you will also need a residence permit.
See our Guide to Residence Permits in Turkey for more information.
Turkey has different laws depending on the country you're coming from. Refugees from, say, Syria are subject to a separate set of rules from the (very rare) refugees from Europe. See our Guide to Asylum Seekers/Refugees in Turkey.
A child born in Turkey is entitled to stay in Turkey for as long as the parent or until they reach the age of 18.
Such children are not automatically entitled to Turkish citizenship at birth. This right depends upon the mother of the child being a Turkish citizen or the father (as declared on the child’s birth certificate and married to the mother) being a Turkish citizen. A Turkish father of a child born to a non-Turkish mother may be granted citizenship for the child if the bloodline is proved through the courts.
Similar rules apply to adopted children.
The child may apply for nationality (as may any adult resident in Turkey). They will need to show:
They are mentally competent
They have been resident in Turkey for a period of five years immediately before the date of application.
Intent to be a long-term resident in Turkey
Some knowledge of Turkey
They have no serious disease of danger to others
They can speak ‘sufficient’ Turkish – this is open to interpretation
They have enough income or ability to earn to support themselves and their dependants
The grant of citizenship is “conducive to public good”.
A person born of Turkish parents can apply for citizenship (see above).
A person married to a Turkish citizen may apply for citizenship after three years. They do not need to have been resident in Turkey during this period.
Any other person over 18 who has legally been living permanently in Turkey (meaning for at least 183 days in each year) may apply for Turkish citizenship. This will, usually, be after five years. Such a person needs to prove that:
They speak ‘sufficient’ Turkish
They show an intention, by their behaviour, of wanting to be a part of Turkey
They have a basic understanding of Turkish history and culture
They are of good character: basically, you have no criminal convictions or debts and you have paid your taxes
They are mentally capable
They are in good health – or, at least, not suffering from diseases that pose a danger to others
They have enough income (or the means of earning it) to support themselves and any dependants
Granting citizenship should not pose a risk to public order
Getting a visa application right - and getting it right first time - is a challenging endeavour, especially if Turkish is not your first language. Mistakes can delay or even void your visa application, which could mean disaster if your move is time sensitive. See a lawyer that specialises in immigration law.
This is a really brief overview of immigration in Turkey - please click on the relevant links to learn more about your specific situation.
|Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
|Turkish Residence Permits
How residence permits work in Turkey
|Coming to Turkey as a Student
Visa & immigration information for foreign students
|Coming to Turkey to Work
Visa & immigration information for foreigners wanting to work in Turkey
|Coming to Turkey to Start a Business
Visa & immigration information for foreigners wanting to set up their own business in Turkey
|Coming to Turkey to Join Your Family
How do you join a family member who already has Turkish residence?
|Coming to Turkey to Retire
Visa & immigration information for foreigners wanting to retire in Turkey
|Coming to Turkey via Residence for Investment
The "golden visa"
|Coming to Turkey on a "Turquoise Visa"
The special Turkish visa for people valuable to the country
|Coming to Turkey as an Asylum Seeker/Refugee
The rules surrounding refugees in Turkey
|Residence in Turkey
Government information (in English) about the types of residency permit available for Turkey
|Application form for Residence Permit in Turkey
Government application form for residence (non-working) permit in Turkey
|How to Get a Work Permit in Turkey
From the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey
|Citizenship Information for Turkey
Click the 'citizenship' tab.
|Information for Refugees in Turkey
From the United Nations.
I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.Başak Yıldız Orkun 10 May 2017
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