From the outset it should be noted that exceptional work permits are not exemptions from the work permit requirements, it merely refers to flexible approach of the Ministry in the granting work permits for certain group of foreigners. Work permits are granted in accordance with the pre-determined periods in respect of foreigners’ legal residence and legal work in Turkey. However for certain categories of people, work permits might be granted exceptionally without considering the principles related to applicable time periods.
Section IV of the Regulation outlines the main categories of foreigners eligible for exceptional work permits.
Accordingly, work permits can be granted exceptionally to following categories of individuals;
- High skilled foreigners based on their education level, professional experience;
- Foreigner investors based on their contribution to the science and technology and based on the impact of activities and investments in Turkey to the economy and employment;
- Nationals of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,
- Foreigners having Turkish Descent,
- Temporarily Seconded Foreign Employees,
- EU Nationals,
- Conditional Refugees,
- International Protection Application Holders,
- Temporary Protection Holders and Stateless Foreigners,
- Cross Border Service Providers,
- Personnel of Foreign Missions who do not have Diplomatic Immunity
- Foreigners married to Turkish citizens
As introduced in Law no 6458, new law allows foreign students to work in Turkey after having valid work permit. Accordingly Foreigner students who are enrolled in an undergraduate or two years associate programs can start to work part-time in Turkey after completing their first year of study. This restriction is not applicable to foreigner students enrolled in graduate programs. Moreover foreigner graduates of Engineering or Architecture faculties in Turkey or those foreigners graduated from Engineering or Architecture faculties of universities recognized by Turkish Higher Education Institution, after obtaining work permit, might work in Turkey temporarily or in project based work.
Distinctly, new law in its respective articles, regulates work permit and work permit exemption application procedures of family members of officials of Foreign Diplomatic and Consular Representatives. Moreover work permit procedures of the foreigner personnel of the schools, cultural and religious institutions affiliated to Foreign Diplomatic and Consular Representatives is also underlined in the new law. These type applications will be made directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however work permit will be granted by Ministry of Labor and Social Security upon the positive opinion of Ministry of Interior. Similarly work permit applications of foreigners who will work in Turkey within the scope Law no 3218 on Free Zones, will be made directly to Ministry of Economy.
a) Foreigners Married to Turkish Citizens
Foreigners who have been married to Turkish citizens might be granted with the exceptional work permit. In order to be considered within the framework of exceptional work permits, solely legal marriage is not sufficient, married partners are also required to live in family unity. In other words marriage should not be considered as a sham marriage. Those foreigners have been married to a Turkish Citizens at least three years are excluded from the work permit assessment criteria which is prescribed in article 13 (4) of the Regulation on the Law on Work Permits of Foreigners. Accordingly, in their work permit applications, decision is made without considering following factors; (i)special nature of applied job, (ii) academic qualifications of foreigner applicant, (iii) employer’s contribution of national economy, (iv) pay level of the applied job and (v) the state of employment in the work place.
However exceptional work permit automatically becomes invalid, if the marriage ends within its first three years for whatever reasons even with the death of the other partner. In decision of nullity of a marriage after three years, settled foreigners in Turkey and their children from Turkish spouse still preserve their eligibility to obtain the exceptional work permit.
It should be noted that, under current Turkish legislation, there is no clear definition for “Settled Foreigners”. Nor the permits like “Permanent Residence” or “Settlement Residence” are currently exists for foreign nationals in Turkey. For the purposes of “exceptional work permits”, Ministry of Labor and Social Security relies on Ministry of Interior’s deliberation on the concept of settled foreigners. The only , although not clear, definition of the concept is available in the Ministry of Interior Circular No. 155 on the Work Permits of Foreigners, Work Visas and Residence Permits. Under the heading of “Foreigners considered having settled down and their children”, The term is attributed to the following foreigners; (i) Foreigners who settled in and purchased property especially in the tourism destinations, (ii) Foreigners who entered Turkey with the intention of settling in, (iii) Foreigners who consider Turkey ,either through their own will or being subject to their family, as a country where they establish close relationships for their personal life and (iv) Foreigners who consider Turkey at the center of their lives to live, to continue their social connections and to conduct economic activities.
Foreigners having legally and uninterruptedly resided in Turkey for at least three years and who are considered “Settled” may request formal documents regarding their status from relevant governorships.
b) Those who lost Turkish Citizenship
Under current legislation on the work permits of foreigners, those people who lost their Turkish citizenship through the circumstances specified in the articles 19, 27 and 28 of the Law No. 403 on Turkish Citizenship might be eligible with exceptional work permit. Here it should be noted that effective form 29 May 2009 new Turkish Citizenship Act has annulled the Law No. 403 on the Turkish Citizenship. By the virtue of article 47 of new act, all references made to the Law No. 403 in other legislations are accepted to be made to new Law No. 5901 on Turkish Citizenship.
Accordingly, as per article 34 of the Law No. 5901 those individuals who renounce Turkish citizenship might be eligible for exceptional work permit.
“(1) The persons fulfilling the conditions below can renounce Turkish citizenship within three years after they become adults.
a) From among persons who acquire Turkish citizenship by birth because of kinship tie to mother or father; those who acquire the citizenship of an alien mother or a father by birth or afterwards
b) From among persons who are Turkish citizens by kinship tie to (by descent of) mother and father; those who acquire citizenship of an alien state by place of birth
c) Those who acquires Turkish citizenship by adoption
ç) Those persons who acquire citizenship of their alien mother or father afterwards, although s/he acquired Turkish citizenship by place of birth
d) Those who acquire Turkish citizenship, because of (as dependant of) the mother or father who acquired Turkish citizenship somehow.
(2) If the provisions mentioned above would render the person stateless, the right of choice shall not be applied.”
Moreover Turkish women who lost Turkish citizenship through renunciation of Turkish Citizenship due to marriage with foreigner spouse and women who acquired Turkish citizenship by marriage in accordance with Article 16 of Law No. 5901 and later lost Turkish citizenship through renunciation of Turkish Citizenship due to termination of marriage with Turkish spouse might be eligible for exceptional work permit.
 It should be noted here that, Law no. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection, after entry into force, provides permanent residence permit for foreigners.
“A foreigner may be eligible for Long Term Residence Permit for indefinite period of time, if have been residing in Turkey legally and interruptedly for 8 years with valid residence permit. However those foreigners who are classified as refugee, conditional refugee or those owners of residence permits for humanitarian purposes or those who are under temporary protection are not be 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. Accordingly foreigners;
- Should not be granted with Social Help within last three years,
- Should have adequate and regular resources for personal or family livelihood,
- Should have valid health insurance,
- Should not be considered as a threat to public order and security.
In the case of staying outside the Turkey for any reasons except health, education and compulsory public service for more than one year, Long Term Residence Permit might be cancelled.”