Turkey: Immigration law introduces ‘Turquoise Card,’ changes to work permit rules
A law on the international labor force has been published in Turkey’s official gazette, making changes to work permit rules and procedures. The law has not been implemented in practice yet.
What does the change mean? The law contain some positive changes for foreign nationals, including the introduction of an indefinite-term work permit, or “Turquoise Card,” for foreign nationals who meet certain criteria related to creating jobs or investing in Turkey. Another change allows work permit holders a period of up to six months to enter Turkey (instead of the current three months). Additionally, a points-based system is to be created to assess work permit candidates, although this provision is not clear yet.
- Implementation time frame: The law has been approved by the government and published Aug. 13, but immigration authorities have not implemented it yet.
- Visas/permits affected: Work and residence permits.
- Who is affected: Foreign nationals working, residing or on assignment in Turkey.
- Next steps: Regulations are expected to be released shortly and should clarify how the changes will be implemented in practice.
Key provisions are summarized as follows:
Turquoise card. Work permits that allow an indefinite term will be introduced for those who qualify based primarily on their investment in science and technology or contributions to the Turkish economy and employment. Turquoise cards will be initially granted for three years and upon request may be converted to an indefinite term.
Points-based system. The law calls for the Labor Ministry to establish a system to assess work permit applicants based on a points-based system, although details have not been provided.
Work permit validity. A foreign national who obtains an initial work permit from abroad will have six months from the permit’s validity date to enter Turkey. This is a loosening of the previous rule, which required entry within three months of approval. The six-month period also applies to free trade zone work permits.
Seconded workers. Foreign nationals may be seconded in Turkey if the home country has a bilateral agreement with Turkey on social security. If such an agreement does not exist, workers may still be seconded as long as the assignee’s social security premiums are paid in Turkey.
BAL Analysis: The law should provide more flexibility to employers hiring or posting foreign employees in Turkey, particularly for foreign national employers or partners investing in Turkey. BAL is following these developments and will report on implementing guidelines when they are released.
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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