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The Turquoise Card of Turkey

4.4.2017

The Turquoise card scheme of Turkey (Turkuaz Kart in Turkish) will appeal to highly skilled foreign workers looking to relocate to the country. Often compared to the green card in the USA, applicants show they can actively contribute towards the Turkish economy or specific areas of expertise such as technology, or science.

The Turquoise scheme is an amendment to the International Workforce Law. It does not replace the standard working permits regulations for foreigners but instead adds another level for applicants who will contribute in their areas of expertise or through investment in the Turkish economy.

Turqoise Card of Turkey

What is the Turquoise Card of Turkey?

The two most important specific areas of difference compared to a standard working permit is that the Turquoise scheme rewards applicants with certain rights that a citizen would receive, as well as indefinite work permits, and residence permits for spouses and children.

Criteria to Apply for a Turquoise Card

Applicants need to fulfill one or more of the following five criteria;

1. Prove high-level qualifications and skills by education, wage, vocational knowledge, and experience.
2. Be a high-quality investor according to employment, scientific and technological development, or similar characteristics.
3. Be contributing towards science and technology development, or for the benefit of the country at international levels in the fields of science, industry, and technology.
4. Be contributing towards cultural, artistic or sports activities within Turkey.
5. Be contributing towards the international recognition or promotion of Turkey or Turkish culture. These activities should be in the national interests of Turkey.

How to Apply for the Turquoise Card of Turkey

The Application can be made within Turkey, or abroad and through the system with legal representation. If the applicant is already in Turkey, they may apply directly to his/her foreign identification number. Application information and documents from abroad will be made in electronic form.

Documents needed to apply for the Turquoise Card;

• Application form
• Passport
• Conformity certificate obtained from the relevant public institution to prove eligibility

Dependent on which criteria the applicant satisfies, the following documents should also be submitted;

• A foreign diploma, employment contract, resumes appointment, or assignment letter. These should be internationally recognized documents.
• Investors should show the foreign cash account size, employment level, export credit, financial sufficiency, business region, and sector and business documents.
• Scientist and researcher need to include diplomas, academic career, studies and licenses history, details of any trademark or patented materials.
• Cultural, artistic or sports applications need to prove their success at national or international level.
• Foreigners contributing to the recognition or promotion of Turkey or Turkish cultures should submit documents showing their involvement or recognized status at an international level.

How is a Turquoise Card Application Evaluated?

Applicants will need to score sufficient points within a set and defined evaluation system. Officials judging the application may also get opinions of faculty members and institutions and organizations related to the industry or area of expertise based on the applicant’s professional skills.

The scoring system is based on;

• The level of education
• Prestige of the higher education institution
• Wage bracket
• Seniority of the institution
• Level of expertise or professional experience

If the foreigner is applying as a qualified investor, the following is also scored;

• Export or employment activity
• Investment activity
• Nature of the region and business
• Movable or immovable properties owned in Turkey
• Similar criteria demonstrating their intellectual or industrial property rights and qualifications

If the applicant is applying as a scientist or researcher, scoring is based on;

• Academic title
• Participation in national or international institutions in the field of science and technology
• Involvement in domestic or international organizations with registered trademarks, patents, trademarks, or licenses
• Innovation activities

Scoring for sports applications is based on the national or international achievements of the club in which the applicant is a member and the national sportsman status of the foreign athlete. Entrepreneurs should prove recognition of their work and domestic or international awards.

Likewise, foreigners contributing to confirmation or promotion of Turkey or Turkish culture are scored on promotional activities including time, duration, sustainability, continuity, influence, ideas, works of art, and activities carried out internationally.

Note: The General Directorate can make changes in scoring systems or set differentiated scoring systems on a regional, provincial, sectoral, or occupational basis.

Are Applications Guaranteed?

No, refusals can happen for any of the following reasons;

• Applicant cannot meet the assessment criteria
• Applicant does not adhere to international labour policy
• The information and documentation submitted are falsified or misleading
• Reasons for employment are not sufficient
• The profession linked to the application is restricted to Turkish citizens only
• The interior ministry refuses permission for the applicant to enter Turkey, and gain a visa
• The applicant has been or will be deported
• Turkey does not have recognized, established diplomatic relationships with the applicant's home country
• The candidate is not allowed to work because of public order, security, and health concerns

What is the Transition Time?

The first three years of holding the Turquoise card is called the transition time during which an appointed specialist will monitor the domestic and foreign activities and commitments of the cardholder. The designated specialist will also prepare reports every twelve months according to set criteria specified by the General Directorate.

If the appointed specialist requires any additional information or documents, the cardholder is obligated to submit these within 15 days of the time of the request. If any discrepancies arise from the reports, the cardholder has a three-month period to rectify them. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the card.

Requests to remove the transition period are made within the last 180 days of the three years. If an application is not submitted, the turquoise card becomes invalid. Upon approval by the end of the three-year transition period, the turquoise card becomes indefinite.

Holders of the Turquoise Card are...

• Exempt from compulsory military service required by law of male Turkish citizens
• Cannot be elected into public office
• Obligated to join the social security system of Turkey (SGK)

Applicants will receive the same benefits as a Turkish citizen regarding residence, travel, work, investment, commercial activity, inheritance, movable and immovable business, and remuneration. However, if the law requires the person to be a Turkish citizen, the rights and benefits shall not apply. In exceptional circumstances, the Turquoise cardholder and their relative may be granted Turkish citizenship if they are not a threat to national security, public order or under the transition period.

Can a Turquoise Card be Cancelled or Revoked?

If the cardholder does not come to Turkey within six months of approval or is outside of the country for more than two years in one continuous period without proving force majeure, it will be revoked.

Other situations include...

• The applicant has been working illegally
• The applicant did not retain employment for one continuous year
• The applicant submitted false or misleading information, and documents
• The candidate does not fulfill requests for documents or evidence within the transition time
• The applicant has been denied legal permission to enter Turkey or deported
• Their work causes disruption to public order, security, or health

The applicant can also request cancellation of the card in which case it loses its validity.

Real Estate Sales Will Increase in 2017 with Turquoise Card

The way to grant citizenship to investors who invested 2 million USD in Turkey or invested 1 million USD was opened without seeking any other conditions. As a complement to this step, Turquoise Card arrangement for qualified workforce entered into force.

Although it's compulsory to invest in Turkey to be a Turquoise Card holder, the types of investment to be made is not limited to a single option and includes appropriate alternatives to suit all expectations. Rules such as to make capital investments to Turkey, establish a business in Turkey and provide employment at a certain rate, buying property in Turkey and not to sell the property for at least 3 years are among the types of investments that need to be made.

Granting indefinite work and residence permit to foreigners were particularly welcomed by the representatives of the real estate sector. Stating that the Turquoise Card will make a significant contribution to the sector, but that some improvements are needed, the president of the Istanbul Constructors Association said that they are very hopeful for 2017. Together with the Turquoise Card and fast citizenship, at least 20 percent increase and over 20 thousand sales are expected in Turkey in 2017.

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