Work Permits for Turkey

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Expats eager to obtain a work permit for Turkey may have their hopes put on hold in lieu of a process normally characterised by a large amount of paperwork and coordination.
Stack of Paperwork
Expats may be surprised to learn that submission is actually a double application process – that is, both the expat employee and the sponsoring employer must submit an application, with the necessary documents, to the appropriate bodies within 10 days of each other.

Only those individuals who can prove they possess a specific skill not demonstrated by a member of the local Turkish population can qualify to receive a work permit. Furthermore, only a formal business entity formally registered in Turkey can submit a work permit application.

Theoretically, it follows that an expat who wishes to work legally in Turkey must have a job offer before pursuing the permit.

That being said, there are a number of job categories that the Turkish government has specifically forbid foreign nationals from working in (see section below).

Though recent changes to regulations made by government attempt to make for an expedited and more efficient process for foreign workers, the application form has grown significantly and new difficulties have been created.

The new stipulations that benefited expats restricted Turkey’s Work Permit Department from requesting documents outside of those specified initially, and has reduced the adjudication period to 30 days for licensed workers waiting for equivalence approval; these workers also qualify for a one-year preliminary work permit during the waiting period.

On the down-side, the application now includes questions about criminal charges, illnesses that “threaten” public health and substance abuse problems.

How to apply for a work permit for Turkey

Work permits for Turkey are either granted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (within Turkish borders) or if abroad, from the Consulate of the Turkish Republic.

Documents required:

  • Passport and copy
  • Completed visa application form
  • Proof of a job offer in the form of a letter from employer
  • Passport photographs
  • Visa fee and work permit document fee (varies depending on type of permit applied for)
Typically the letter from the employing company must contain essential information such as name, address and business category, as well as specifics such as capital information; previous year exportation in dollars; date of establishment; recorded and paid share capital; the total number of Turkish personnel working in the company and the name, nationality and the position the foreigner has taken part in previous companies.

Normal processing time is approximately two months. Upon approval, applicants are notified and have three months to appear at the consulate to receive the work permit stamp.

Occupations banned for foreigners applying for a work permit in Turkey

  • Diving, maritime navigation, working on ships, extracting wreckage, exportation of fish, other sea creatures, sand and pebbles
  • Mining
  • Working as executive director in travel agencies
  • Professional occupations: medical doctor, nurse, midwife, dentist, vet, pharmacist, optician, executive director in hospitals, judge, lawyer, prosecutor, security guard, notary

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