Turkey: New law to create points-based work permit system

A new law has been published that, when implemented, will eventually significantly modify work permitprocedures and criteria.

The most noteworthy changes include a new government agency that will use a points-based system to evaluate work permit applications, a new permanent work category and a new work permit exemption that may apply to seconded workers. 

New Agency and Points-Based System

A new government agency, called the International Workforce Policy Board, will be established to determine new foreign worker policies. The agency will use a new points-based system to evaluate work permit applications.

New Work Permit Category

Foreign nationals who meet certain educational, professional and/or investment requirements will be eligible for a new permanent work category called the Turquoise Card. Turquoise Cards will be issued with an indefinite term following a three-year conditional period. Turquoise Card holders will have the same rights as Turkish citizens and their dependants will be granted residence permits.

More Foreign Workers Eligible for Work Permit Categories

Qualified foreign workers will become eligible for the independent work permit (which does not require employer sponsorship) based on a recommendation from the new International Workforce Policy Board. 

Additionally, foreign nationals with an engineering or architecture diploma from a Turkish university or a foreign university recognized by the Higher Education Council in Turkey will become eligible for the short-term work permit. Those who intend to work in Turkey for more than a month will have to register with the relevant Chamber of Engineering.

More details on the criteria for these newly-eligible foreign nationals are expected to be released upon implementation of the regulations.

New Work Permit Exemption

Foreign board members of certain companies, non-executive partners and international service providers whose stay does not exceed 90 days in a 180-day period will be eligible to apply for a work permit exemption. If the provision is applied liberally, it may allow seconded and/or foreign workers assigned by their home country to a Turkish subsidiary to qualify for the exemption.  The Ministry of Labor is expected to publish additional information on this in future regulations.

New Pre-Approval Requirement

Foreign employees in medical or academic sectors will have to apply for permission from related professional authorities before they can submit a work permit application.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals should benefit from more work permit options. Employers should contact their immigration professional for more information on the points-based work permit evaluation system as it develops.

Employers should be prepared for process and potential fee changes, which will depend on the forthcoming implementation details.