[email protected]

June 03, 2012, Sunday

Easier procedure for work permit/residence permit update

Finally, a new regulation that will make it easier to obtain a residence permit.

As reported by Bayram Kaya and E. Barış Altıntaş in Today's Zaman on Saturday, the Interior Ministry issued a decree on Friday that will bring relief to problems caused by an earlier rule change on Jan. 13, 2012, which limited the duration of stay for foreign nationals to a total of 90 days in a period of 180 days.

The article by Kaya and Altıntaş explained how the regulation also aims to register illegal foreign workers in Turkey -- in particular, the domestic workers industry. It is a common fact that many homes employ foreigners to assist with their housework or elderly care. These people are from the former Soviet countries, especially from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Moldova. The decree, which is now in effect, seeks to legalize these foreign nationals. It also allows foreign nationals who have violated visa regulations to obtain residence permits on the condition that they pay the permit fees and any legal penalties for overstaying their visa. The decree notes that the new regulations also seek to fend off any possible negative effects that the former regulations may be having on the tourism industry. It also states: “Foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas or residence permits … will be noted in official records, albeit for a brief period. Now the restriction will be lifted for those who apply for a residence permit.”

In addition, the new regulation reduces the fee for obtaining work permits from TL 650 to TL 150. It also enlarges the scope of the purpose of visits by foreign nationals and automatically issues residence permits for foreigners who come to Turkey for meetings, conferences, cultural activities and commercial ties. Previously, foreigners who had residence permits valid for six months were able to obtain work permits by applying to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, though this application needed to be made from the applicant's country of origin and by their employer in Turkey in the right sequence.

The previous regulation had employers pay one-and-a-half times the insurance premium rate indicated for minimum wage earners. The new decree reduces the rate of insurance premium payments that employers need to pay for work permits to be issued.

The article in Saturday's paper noted: “Until the end of 2012, every individual will be given a one-time residence permit valid for up to six months. In addition, foreign nationals who want to go abroad [and who have single-entry visas] will be excluded from the temporary re-entry ban as long as they pay any outstanding fees or penalties stemming from visa violations.”

As I stated in Saturday's article, which I will reiterate here, the new regulation is certainly positive and makes it easier to register foreigners who are currently working illegally into the system. The head of the Immigration General Directorate earlier said there had been attempts, such as conducting training courses, to have Turks fill the demand for maids or elderly caregivers, but the local populace did not display much interest in these roles. Previously, if you had an Uzbek employee, for example, you would have to apply to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, while your employee would have to go to the Turkish Consulate in Uzbekistan. Now, the employee will be able to apply for a work permit here without going back to her home country, and only have to pay TL 150 instead of TL 650.

The change also allows the state to gain the insurance premium payments from employers of foreign nationals by legalizing foreign nationals currently working illegally and causing the Treasury to lose income on premiums.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this matter. I presume that the Turkish authorities will now be inspecting residence and work permits more than they did in the past after allowing foreigners to obtain residence and work permits more easily.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to [email protected] If a sender's letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise is expressly stated by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

Previous articles of the columnist