New law on Foreigners and International Protection
Law no. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection has been published in Government’s Newspaper on 11th of April 2013, No: 28615.
In the last session of Turkish National Assembly, on 04 April 2013, the new Law on Foreigners and International Protection has been voted. The Law on Foreigners and International Protection will make substantial changes in the Turkish asylum system, as well as it will outlaw the existing Law no: 5683 Related to Residence and Travels of Foreigners. The new law will be mainly a Turkish asylum law and it will be treated as Turkish foreigners’ code. New law specifies entry rules to Turkey, visa regulations and residence permit applications as well as it identifies the rules and principles regarding deportation and international protection. The Law on the Foreigners and International Protection also establishes the General Directorate of Migration Management under the Ministry of Interior.
The following points are the major features of the new law about the residence permits.
Exemptions from Residence Permits
Following foreigners will be exempted from residence permit requirements; (i) foreigners who own a “certificate of stateless person” (ii) officers of diplomatic and consular missions (iii) those family members of the officers of diplomatic and consular missions (approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is needed) (iv) officers of International Organizations, whose employment status has been determined by international agreements, (v) foreigners who are being exempted from the residence permit requirements by international agreements in which Turkey takes part (vi) foreigners within the scope of article 28 of the Law no: 5901 on Turkish Citizenship  (vii) foreigners who own a “Certificate of International Protection Applicant” or a “Refugee Certificate” granted in accordance with articles 69/7, 76/1 and 83/1 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection.
Residence Permit Applications
Residence permit applications will be made through the Turkish consulates in the home countries of foreigners. In order to apply for residence permit, it is essential that foreign applicants should have a passport valid for at least 60 days beyond the requested residence permit period. Duly applications will be finalized not more than in a 90 days period. Foreigners who obtained residence permit from Turkish consulates in their home countries should register themselves to the Address Registration System within 20 days after their arrival inTurkey.
Only in the following exceptional cases the residence permit application can be made within Turkey through relevant governorships: (i) With requests or decisions of the Turkish judicial and administrative bodies, (ii) In the case when the departure of the foreigner from Turkey is not reasonable and possible, (iii) for Long-Term Residence Permit applications, (iv) for Student Residen ce Permit applications, (v) for Residence permit applications on humanitarian grounds, (vi) for Applications for transition from ‘Family Residence Permits’ to ‘Long Term Residence Permits’, (vii) for Residence permit application for child born by foreign parents who have valid residence permits in Turkey. (viii) for Residence permit applications made for new purposes of stay upon the invalidity of cause for granting current residence permit (ix) for Applications of Short Term Residence Permit after completion of higher education in Turkey.
Residence permit extension applications will be accepted by relevant governorships of Turkey. The application for extension might be submitted in all circumstances within 60 days before the expiry date of the residence permit. After the extension application, applicants will be given a document which is not subjected to administrative fees. During the extension evaluation period, foreigners will use this document to continue residing in Turkey legally.
Work Permits will be used as Residence Permit
As per new rules on residence permits, valid working permissions will be used as residence permits. Thus work permit’s validity requirement of residence permit application within 30 days upon obtaining the work permit (for consulate applications 30 days was starting upon arrival of work permit holders) will be outlawed. On the other hand the same as work permits, “Work Permit Exemption Certificates” will also be used as residence permits.
Interruption of residence
Staying outside Turkey for a period longer than six months within one year or more than one year within the last five years will be considered as an interruption in the residence permit period. In the residence permit applications of those foreigners who have interruptions in their residence permit period, previous residence permit periods will not taken into consideration. This rule is also applicable for the applications for transition to another type of residence permit. In the calculation of uninterrupted residence period, half of the period for student residence permits and full period for other types of residence permits will be considered.
Types of Residence Permits
The new law specifies six main types of residence permits. (i) Short-Term Residence Permit, (ii) Family Residence Permit, (iii) Student Residence Permit (iv) Long- Term Residence Permit (v) Humanitarian Residence Permit (vi) Residence Permits for the victims of Human Trafficking.
- Short- Term Residence Permit
Short-term residence permits are granted in accordance with the visiting purpose of the foreigners. Short-term residence permits will be issued at most for one year. Short term residence permit might be granted for the foreigners listed below who have suitable accommodation conditions in Turkey. It is essential that foreign applicants should have a passport valid for at least 60 days beyond requested residence permit period. Additionally, foreigners might be asked to provide a criminal record from their home countries if Turkish authorities consider it to be necessary.
a) Foreigners who come to Turkey for scientific research.
b) Foreigners who own immovable property in Turkey.
c) Foreigners who come to Turkey for business relations or opening business.
d) Foreigners who come to Turkey for in-service-training
e) Foreigners who come to Turkey as a part of international student exchange programs or in line with international agreements in which Turkey stands as a party.
f) Foreigners who come to Turkey for tourist purposes.
g) Foreigners who come to Turkey for medical treatment except from those whose illness might cause a threat to the public health.
h) Foreigners who need to stay in Turkey due to requests or decisions of judicial or administrative bodies.
i) Foreigners who seek transition from Family residence permit to Short-term residence permit.
j) Foreigners who come to Turkey to attend Turkish Language Courses might be granted with short-term residence permit at most two times.
k) Foreigners who come to Turkey for training, research, internship or traineeship purposes through Turkish Public Institutions might be granted with short-term residence permit at most one time and not more than for one year.
In the case of staying outside Turkey more than 120 days within one year, Short Term Residence Permits might be cancelled. Applications of foreigners who are subjected to deportation or entry ban decisions will be rejected.
- Family Residence Permit
Family Residence Permit is granted to the foreign spouse and/or foreign children who are under statutory age and dependent foreign children of foreigners who have valid residence permits, foreigners who own secondary-protection status, refugees and people who lost Turkish citizenship by obtaining renunciation permit. Family residence permits will be issued at most for a term of two years on each application. In the case of marriage with more than one partner, only one partner might be granted with Family Residence Permits. However children from the other partners are granted with Family residence permit. In addition, both partners of marriage should be aged 18 years old or above. In granting Family Residence Permit to the children, if dual guardianship is exists, consent of father or mother who also has parental right is needed. Children with family work permit may continue their primary and secondary education without having student residence permits. Spouses or children, in order to apply for Family Residence Permits should have passport which is valid for at least 60 days beyond requested residence permit period. Those foreigners who resided in Turkey at least three years and turned to 18 years old might apply for transition from Family residence permit to Short-term residence permit.
In case of divorce from a Turkish citizen, foreigners who have resided in Turkey at least three years with family residence permits might be granted a short-term residence permit. However in the existence of court decision on domestic violence, the three years duration is not taken into consideration for the divorced foreign partner.
In order to be eligible for a Family Residence Permit the following conditions should also be met. (i) to reside in Turkey at least one year with valid residence permit , (ii) to have monthly income not less than the Turkish minimum wage which is also no less than one third of minimum wage per household members, (iii) to have suitable accommodation conditions in Turkey in line with general health and security, (iv) to have medical insurance which covers all household members, (v) to prove not convicted with any domestic violence or similar crimes within 5 years prior to the application date and (vi) to be registered with Turkish Address Registration System.
- Student Residence Permit
Student residence permit is granted to those foreigners who will be enrolled to graduate, undergraduate or two years associate programs in the Turkish higher education institutions. Foreigners who will study in primary or secondary education programs, with the consent of their parents, might be granted with student residence permit at most for one year period on each application. Student residence permit does not grant any rights about residence permits of parents and other relatives of the foreign students. The period of student residence permit can not exceed the duration of education.
With the entry into force of new Law on Foreigners and International Protection, foreign students can work in Turkey legally after obtaining a work permit. However foreign students who are enrolled in undergraduate or two years associate programs can start working in Turkey after completing their first year of study. Moreover only for foreign students who are enrolled in two years associate programs, their working hours can not exceed 24 hours per week. Applications of foreigners who are subjected to deportation or entry ban decisions will be rejected.
- Long Term Residence Permit
A foreigner may be eligible for Long Term Residence Permit for indefinite period of time, if having resided in Turkey legally and uninterruptedly for 8 years with a valid residence permit. However those foreigners who are classified as refugees and conditional refugees or foreigners who own residence permits for humanitarian purposes or who are under temporary protection are not eligible to apply for Long Term Residence Permits. Additionally in order to be eligible for Long Term Residence Permit foreigners also need to meet with the following criteria.They :
- Should not be granted with Social Help within the last three years,
- Should have adequate and regular resources for personal or family livelihood,
- Should have a valid health insurance,
- Should not be considered as a threat to public order and security.
In the case of staying outside Turkey for any reasons except from health, education and compulsory public service for more than one year, Long Term Residence Permit might be cancelled.
5. Humanitarian Residence Permit
In the following circumstances Humanitarian Residence Permit might be granted at most for one year. Residence permit on humanitarian grounds can be extended.
a) If the highest interest of a child is in question
b)In case that the departure of a foreigner from Turkey is not reasonable and possible, even if the foreigner is subjected to deportation or entry ban decision.
c) If the deportation decision may not be taken into consideration due to provisions of article 55 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection.
d) During the legal actions taken against deportation decisions or not allowed international protection applications.
e) During the returning process of international protection applicants to the country of first asylum or third safe country.
f) For those foreigners allowed entering Turkey for the sake of state interests or public order and public security (if the grounds for applying another type of residence permit is not available)
g) In exceptional circumstances.
Holders of Humanitarian Residence Permit should register themselves to the Address Registration System within 20 days after they are granted the residence permit.
- Residence Permit for the Victims of Human Trafficking
A foreigner who is victim of an offence related to Human Trafficking might be granted with 30 days a valid residence permit for reflection and for him or her to decide whether to take action against the perpetrator(s) of the offence. Residence permits for the Victims of Human Trafficking might be extended at most 6 months each time, however extensions can not exceed three years in total.
As per article 125 of the New Law, except from the provisions regarding the establishment of the General Directorate of Migration Management under section 5, all the other provisions shall enter into force one year after the publication date.
For more detailed interpretation of Law on Foreigners and International Protection, you may consult the official page of Directorate General of Migration Management.