Turkish Law Blog
No More Extension for Short-Term Touristic Residence Permits in Turkey!
On December 2, 2019, the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management announced that as of 01.01.2020, the requests of the foreigners who have been granted a one-year or longer short-term residence permit in total or at once for touristic purposes, for extending their short-term residence permits will be disapproved, in case of absence of a justifying reason other than tourism.
Fundamentally, the abovementioned administrative decision has merit because of the fact that an awful lot of foreigners in Turkey have been using the short-term touristic residence permit in order to live in Turkey for long years, or even permanently, even though this category of short-term residence permit has actually been created for foreign tourists who plan to stay in Turkey more than 90 days, which is the maximum duration limit can be granted by the Turkish touristic visa. Therefore, the possibility of extending short-term residence permits indefinitely has been misused and most importantly, as a way of getting around the laws pertinent to work permit, taxation and social welfare system.
However, that decision will inevitably cause too many grievances for numerous foreigners residing in Turkey by hanging on the short-term touristic residence permits. At the end of the day, the highly flexible immigration policies of the Turkish government so far have given a green light for those who recurrently extend their touristic residence permits, and many foreigners have not had even second thoughts about using this flexibility to settle their lives, moreover to set up business here in Turkey. However, now they, especially those who set up business and employed many other foreigners without granting them work permits, about to face serious problems as of the beginning of 2020. In this piece, we will try to point out some solutions for those problems, which could be applied at least to buy some time until having a chance for bringing permanent solutions:
- The language of the decision leaves a leeway for the foreigners who might have “justifying reasons” for extending their residence permits. No doubt, this is a deliberate choice of the decision-makers in case they might encounter some exceptional cases in which foreigners would be very seriously aggrieved if they are not allowed to extend their residence permits, thus could be exempted from the new restrictions. However, the precise meaning of the “justifying reasons” is far from clarity at the moment. There is no further explanation by the Turkish authorities for what it exactly means. The reason of this ambiguity is probably the fact that the authorities themselves too are not sure about what kind of cases can be considered as justifying excuses. It is likely that the implementation of this clause will be clarified on case-by-case basis.
Our prediction is that the authorities might make the things easier for the foreigners, whose lives would be under danger if deported, from the countries such as Syria or Egypt in which there is widespread persecution against masses. However, I am emphasizing that it is just a prediction out of our experience, and there is no general and legally clear exemption from the upcoming restrictions for any nationalities yet. Even if our prediction comes out right, of course, the Turkish authorities would be expecting that justifying reasons must be proven with some convincing evidence and/or facts.
- For the foreigners who register the Turkish learning courses verified by the Turkish Ministry of National Education, there is a chance of applying for short-term residence permit. One can apply to this kind of residence permit maximum twice, each of which can be maximum for 2 years. This way, one can have residence permit in Turkey up to 4 years. So, it seems to be the most costless way of coping with the new restrictions.
- Once a foreigner buys real estate in Turkey, he/she is granted a residence permit. Nevertheless, that real estate has to be a house. Other kinds of real estate are not accepted for applying for this kind of residence permit. It should not be forgotten that any real estate of which value is above 250.000 USD will open the way for applying the Turkish citizenship beyond the residence permit.
- Foreign investors who invest in Turkey might be granted residence permit up to 5 years. The decision of whether an investment qualifies for the Turkish authorities to grant residence permit is made by the Turkish Presidency. Only criterion, which is ambiguous, is that such an investment shall have a considerable positive impact on Turkish economy.
- Another way of having residence permit for foreigners in Turkey is to prove that they are to participate a commercial activity (i.e. setting up a company, working for a business project of a corporation based in Turkey) or a scientific research. However, again, there is a great ambiguity about what kind of commercial activities and scientific researches would qualify for the Turkish authorities to grant residence permit and how to prove that. It seems to be decided on case-by-case basis.
- The foreigners who have been residing in Turkey for 8 years subsequently, there is a chance of translating their short-term residence permits into long-term residence permits.