ACQUIRING TURKISH CITIZENSHIP THROUGH INVESTMENT
Turkish Citizenship Law numbered 5901, indicates the procedures regarding the regulation of principles relating to the acquisition and loss of Turkish citizenship and the implementation of citizenship services. Turkish citizenship can be acquired both by birth or after birth. This article covers one of the alternatives in which Turkish citizenship is acquired after birth, namely through investment/buying a certain type of property.
Although it had been possible to acquire Turkish citizenship through investment before the year 2016, there were no certain criteria for those who was planning to invest in Turkey. After the second half of 2016, by issuing International Workforce Law No.6735 and amending Foreigners and International Protection Law and also Regulation on the Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law, the amount of investments and minimum price of real estates have been determined which will enable potential investors/buyers to acquire Turkish citizenship. In addition to that, a new practice named Turquoise Card has been carried into effect which provides foreigners the chance to obtain work and residence permits for an indefinite period of time. These regulations mentioned below could be regarded as a means to attract foreign investors and skilled foreign labor.
According to the amendments in the implementing regulations of the Turkish Citizenship Act which was published on 12.01.2017 in the Official Gazette, foreigners have a right to obtain Turkish citizenship who;
According to Article 12 of the Law, the foreigner, his/her foreigner spouse and their dependent children whom the Republic of Turkey have granted the “Turquoise Card”, is another group who could also obtain Turkish citizenship. Coming into effect on 13 August 2016 by publishing in the Official Gazette, “Turquoise Card” has been introduced to practice. The practice allows foreigners to obtain certain substantial rights, especially work and residence permits for an unlimited period of time. The ones who are granted Turquoise Card is chosen according to specific criteria evaluating level of education, experience, and amount of investment.
As per Turquoise Card Regulation published in the Official Gazette dated 14 March 2017 numbered 30007, Turquoise Card may be granted to foreigners who are;
a) assessed as qualified workforce due to their educational level, wage, professional experience, contribution to science and technology and such like qualifications,
b) assessed as qualified investor due to their contribution to science and technology, their level of investment or export value, volume of employment they provide and such like qualifications,
c) scientists and researcher who have internationally recognized studies in the academic area, and those distinguished in science, industry and technology, areas of which deemed strategic from the point of our country,
ç) internationally reputed for their successes in cultural, artistic or sports activities,
d) contributing the recognition or publicity of the Turkey or its culture internationally, acting in favor of the matters concerning Turkey’s national interests.
Turquoise Card application in Turkey shall be made directly through the system, and the applications abroad shall be made to the Turkey’s foreign mission in the foreigner's country of citizenship or legal stay.
Following documents shall be uploaded to the system in the application:
a) Letter of application,
b) Copy of foreigner’s passport or the documents that substitute passport,
c) Certificate of conformity, if any.
ç) For each froup of foreigner;
ç.1) For the foreigners assessed as qualified workforce; diploma, employment contract, CV, letter of appointment or assignment, internationally recognized documents and the like showing professional experience, foreign languages other than native language,
ç.2) For the foreigners assessed as qualified investor, documents showing the level of investment, volume of employment, export value, financial capability, field of operation, region, sector and business,
ç.3) For scientists and researchers, diploma, documents concerning academic career and title, documents and the like related to academic study, license, trademarks or patents,
ç.4) For the foreigners who are successful at the national and international level in cultural, artistic or sports activities; documents and suchlike showing their successes,
ç.5) For the foreigners contributing the recognition or publicity of Turkey or its culture internationally, documents related to activities performed internationally as a Turquoise Volunteer, documents showing literary and artistic works, publicity activities and its duration and sustainability,
In the assessment of Turquoise Card application, a point-based system based on the criteria determined by Directorate General of International Workforce will be used. Foreigners who get sufficient point will be assessed positively. With respect to the regulation, foreigners whose applications was found suitable by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security over the recommendation of International Workforce Policy Advisory Committee by evaluating level of education, professional experience, effect of investment on domestic economy will be granted, Turquoise Card. If the application is granted, the applicant’s spouse and dependent children, also obtains a certificate indicating they’re relatives of a Turquoise Card holder. No work permit and residence permit fee will be charged from Turquoise Card holder, and no residence permit fee will be charged from relative of Turquoise Card holder.
Turquoise Cards holder shall benefit from the same rights provided by a permanent work permit. Turquoise Card owners;
(a) have no obligation of compulsory military service,
(b) have no right to elect and be elected or to enter into public service,
(c) Without prejudice to acquired rights with respect to social security, subject to governing provisions in benefiting from these rights
(ç) Processes related to residence, travelling, investment, commercial activities, inheritance, acquisition of movable and immovable properties will be carried out in accordance with current legislations applied to Turkish citizens.
During the transition period consisting of 3 years, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security would investigate information and documents related to the grounds for granting Turquoise Card. Therefore, the grounds must remain valid throughout the period. As long as obtaining Turquoise Card, the Turquoise Card holder as well as his/her family, reserves the right to apply for Turkish citizenship by means of the recent amendments to Regulation on the Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law.
Enacting regulations which enables acquisiton of citizenship through investment can be considered a significant footstep as regards to attracting both investors and qualified workforce into Turkey. Yet, it should not be forgotten that it is at the Council of Minister’s absolute discretion to decide whether or not the foreigner will be granted citizenship. Therefore, meeting the criteria explained above neither give one an absolute right to obtain citizenship nor constitute a certainty in this respect.