Types of work permits
Work permits given to foreigners are classified as temporary work permits, permanent work permits, permits for independent work and permits for exceptional situations.
1 — Temporary work permits
Unless stipulated by bilateral or multilateral agreements to which Turkey is party, temporary work permits are issued by the Labor Ministry for the duration of up to one year. In doing so, the ministry considers the overall situation of the labor market, developments in the work environment, conjectural economic changes in employment, the validation period of the foreigner’s residence permit and the duration of the work in question.
Following the maximum one year of employment, this type of permit may be extended upon request to three years, with the condition of employment in the same profession and by the same employer; and following the completion of three-year period, it may once again be extended to six years with the condition of employment in the same profession (the employer may be different this time).
Spouses or other dependents of foreigners who have been working in Turkey may be granted a temporary work permit provided that they, along with the foreigner himself, have been legal residents in the country for five years without interruption. The duration of the residency includes time spent studying, annual leave, sick leaves and unemployment insurance; however, in this case, the foreigner in question should not be a student. The foreigner’s absence from Turkey for a period less than six months does not annul the work permit.
Time spent outside Turkey does not count toward working time; however, those who are sent abroad by the employer and whose Social Security premiums have been paid by the Turkish Social Security Authority (SSK) are entitled to count the time they spent abroad toward employment. The residence of foreigners who failed to renew their residence permits are discounted from work permits.
If necessary, compliance with the legal residency conditions may be proven by a document obtained from security authorities.
2 — Permanent work permits
Permanent work permits, unless otherwise stipulated by bilateral or multilateral agreements, are granted to foreigners who have been in Turkey as legal residents for at least eight years without interruption and as worker for at least six years. Fulfillment of the condition sought with regard to residency is proven through official documents obtained from relevant security directorates. Likewise, fulfillment of the condition with regard to labor is proven through documents obtained from relevant public institutions or professional unions.
Study time does not count toward the eight-year residency duration. However study times of dependents of foreigners are exceptions. Nevertheless, in any case, foreigners who meet the above conditions should not be students in order to be employed.
3 — Permits to work independently
Foreigners seeking independent employment whose five-year legal residency in Turkey without interruption can be proved by official documents endorsed by security authorities are granted independent work permits provided that the relevant public authorities and professional unions find this employment to contribute to the economy.
A foreigner whose request is approved is given a Document of Application for Independent Work, which remains in effect for three months and grants the right to file an application to initiate independent work with the ministry.
4 — Exceptional work permits
Unless otherwise stipulated by bilateral or multilateral agreements to which Turkey is party, foreigners referred to in Article 8 of Law No. 4817 may be given work permits under more flexible conditions. These include:
a- Foreigners who are married to a Turkish citizen and live in Turkey with their spouse,
b- Foreigners who have been married to a Turkish citizen for at least three years and lived in Turkey as legal resident and their children. Non-Turkish citizens may also apply for a work permit in exceptional cases provided that they are legal residents in Turkey.
Those who have settled in Turkey by purchasing real estate or made a substantial economic investment in Turkey also fall into the same category. Foreigners in this category may prove their status through the security directorate. Because Turkey does not recognize permanent residence status for foreigners, those in this category are considered foreigners who settled in Turkey.
c- Those who lost their Turkish citizenship because of legal excuses or renounced their Turkish citizenship by their own decision when choosing between different citizenships may be given work permits in exceptional cases. Those in this category may prove their status by the documents issued by Population and Citizenship Affairs General Directorate.
Another case is foreigners born in or later came to Turkey before the age of legal capacity as determined by his or her own national legislation, or if stateless, by Turkish legislation, and graduated from a higher education institution in Turkey.
d- Turkish-origin foreigners who are considered immigrants, refugees or nomads under Settlement Law No. 2510, but are not yet Turkish citizens,
e- Citizens of the EU and their spouses and children who are not EU citizens,
f- Those who work for diplomat, administrative and technical staff employed in foreign missions in Turkey — embassies and consulates — and the representative offices of international organizations based in Turkey, and spouses and children of diplomats and administrative and technical staff employed in Turkey-based embassies, consulates and international organizations within the framework of the principle of reciprocity,
g- Foreigners who will arrive in Turkey for scientific and cultural purposes of more than one month and for the purposes of sporting activities of more than four months,
h- Foreigners who are employed by ministries, public institutions and other relevant state authorities acting under the power vested by the relevant legislation as company partner, board member, general director, vice president, or other similar positions for the purpose of service and goods procurement, fulfillment of the conditions stipulated in a public tender or agreement or operation of an establishment, may be granted an exceptional work permit.