Long-term transfers

Categories

What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?

The main permit category used by companies to apply for long-term transfers of skilled staff is the work visa/work permit category.

Procedures

What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?

The local entity sponsor and the applicant must collect documents to evidence that they meet all of the eligibility criteria. The applicant may then submit a work visa application to the relevant consular post abroad. Within 10 days, a work permit application will subsequently be filed domestically in Turkey. Once approved by the Ministry of Labour, the work visa will be issued at the same consular post abroad. At that point, the applicant may enter Turkey and complete their address registration with the local authorities.

The employee may commence employment in Turkey immediately after entering Turkey on a work visa, provided that the company has complied with all Turkish social security registration requirements.

Period of stay

What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?

Work permits are initially valid for a maximum of one year and are renewable for two and then three-year increments.

Processing time

How long does it typically take to process the main categories?

The typical adjudication period from the filing of a work visa application to the issuance of a work permit is four to six weeks.

Staff benefits

Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?

Consular posts generally require travel insurance as part of a work visa application. Additional requirements apply to the dependants of foreign staff.

Assessment criteria

Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?

For work permits, the employer must be a Turkish legal entity and evidence that it meets sponsorship criteria. Specifically, the employer must:

  • have at least five Turkish citizen employees per registered worksite per foreign applicant, as evidenced by payroll records (the so-called ‘five-to-one ratio’);
  • have a paid-in capital of at least TL100,000. Alternatively, the employer can show gross (assumedly annual) sales amounting to TL800,000 or exports with a gross annual value of $250,000;
  • complete the Turkish company registration procedure using the ministry’s online system; and
  • ensure that the salary to be paid to the foreign employee is commensurate with the position considered.

A work permit may be denied based on some subjective criteria relating to the overall impact on business or social conditions in Turkey (eg, the conditions of the company’s sector or the broader economy), national security and public welfare concerns.

High net worth individuals and investors

Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?

Turkey has a special citizenship programme for parties willing to invest in Turkey. However, with regard to work authorisation, although the Turquoise Card Programme includes certain investors, it has yet to be implemented by the authorities.

Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?

Turkey has a special citizenship programme for parties willing to invest in Turkey. However, with regard to work authorisation, although the Turquoise Card Programme includes certain investors, it has yet to be implemented by the authorities.

Highly skilled individuals

Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?

In 2016 Turkey announced the Turquoise Card Programme, a new immigration visa programme which also covers certain highly skilled individuals who do not have a sponsor. However, the Ministry of Labour has not implemented the programme and is not yet accepting applications. The Turquoise Card Programme has a sub-category which allows applicants to qualify without a sponsor. Further details will hopefully be provided in 2019 or 2020.

Ancestry and descent

Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

An immigration permit known as the blue card allows certain people of Turkish descent (ie, those who have renounced their Turkish citizenship) and their children to apply for a visa status which allows them almost the same rights as Turkish citizens, including work authorisation.

Minimum salary

Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?

Yes. Foreign employees must be paid a salary commensurate with the position considered. Specifically, the following rules apply:

  • High-level managers and pilots cannot be paid less than six-and-a-half times the minimum wage (or TL16,629.60 gross per month).
  • Department managers, engineers and architects cannot be paid less than four times the minimum wage (or TL10,233.60 gross per month).
  • Employees who will work in a position requiring expertise (which is not defined) and teachers cannot be paid less than three times the minimum wage (or TL7,675.20 gross per month).
  • Employees who will work as acrobats or in similar positions for tourism or animation organisations, as well as masseurs and spa therapists, cannot be paid less than two times the minimum wage (or TL5,116.80 gross per month).
  • All others (ie, sales staff and law-level marketing officers) cannot be paid less than one-and-a-half times the minimum wage (or TL3,837.60 gross per month).
  • Household workers cannot be paid less than the minimum wage.
Resident labour market test

Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?

Turkey imposes no labour market testing requirements on sponsoring employers. There is also no quota on work permits; however, a five-to-one ratio per worksite applies.

Shortage occupations

Is there a special route for shortage occupations?

Turkey recognises no shortage occupations which enjoy special consideration.

Other eligibility requirements

Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?

No.

Third-party contractors

What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?

Turkey does not officially recognise a route for hiring third-party contractors other than the normal work permit sponsorship route. In relation to work permits (as opposed to assembly and maintenance service (AMS) visas), the sponsor acts as the employer in Turkey. The submission of a service agreement does not limit the sponsor’s responsibilities from an immigration perspective. However, this requirement does not apply for AMS visas and AMS visa holders are not considered employees of their host.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?

In relation to work permits for engineers, architects and urban planners, unless they qualify for a project-based exemption, the ministry will request a diploma equivalency from applicants who have foreign degrees in these fields. Obtaining a diploma equivalency takes approximately 10 to 15 months.