Revised Aug 2017 – Resource, Ministry Of Labor. Social Security Institute Ankara Office Turkey
WORK PERMIT PROCEDURES FOR FOREIGNERS IN TURKEY
Foreigners to work as an exception to 4817 numbered law;
1) Members of Press and Media are exempt from work permit in accordance with the articles of bilateral and multi lateral and reciprocity article.
Apart from that;
a) University members to work in the universities of Higher Education Council will obtain permits from YÖK Chair,
b) Foreigners to work in Free Trade Zones will work in accordance with the work permits given by Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade,
c) Foreigners to work in the institutions (State Theaters) operating under Ministry of Culture can work in Turkey according to the work permits given by these institutions .
TYPES OF FOREIGNER WORK PERMIT IN TURKEY
1. Initial Application
One can file an application to obtain a work permit in Turkey either while located in Turkey or abroad.
In the case of applications filed abroad, foreigners are required to file an application at a consulate of the Republic of Turkey in the country of which they are a citizen or a permanent resident. The application should be accompanied by a labor contract, letter of assignment, or a document stating company partnership. The employer in Turkey is required to file an online application and submit the required information and documents to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, either in person or via mail, within ten business days following the date of the candidate’s application to a consulate. The consulates of the Republic of Turkey and the ministry will execute online the procedures for the work permit applications filed abroad.
Foreigners whose applications are approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security must enter Turkey within a maximum of hundred and eighty days after the date the work permit is issued. In the case of applications filed in Turkey, with the exception of residence permits issued for education in Turkey, foreigners who hold residence permits with a remaining term of at least six months, or employers thereof, may file work permit applications. Such foreigners are not required to submit an application to the consulates of the Republic of Turkey. The documents required for the application must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, either in person or via mail, within a maximum of six business days after the online application.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Security concludes the procedures regarding work permit applications in consultation, where necessary, with relevant ministries and authorities. The procedures regarding duly submitted work permit applications are concluded by the ministry within a maximum of thirty days provided all required documents are submitted in full. If the ministry determines that required documents are missing, the applicant is notified to submit the documents in question. In such cases, the thirty-day period commences on the date on which the missing documents are submitted to the ministry. In the case of applications filed abroad, the ministry forwards the affirmative or negative decision regarding the work permit application to the relevant consulate of the Republic of Turkey (via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), which notifies the applicant. In the case of applications filed in Turkey, the ministry notifies the foreigner or the employer. Foreigners who are granted residence and work permits from consulates and enter the country are required to register to the Address Registry System in Turkey within a maximum of twenty business days following the date of entrance.
The methods and principles concerning work permits to be issued to foreigners to be employed in Turkey vary by the relevant sector, such as education, housekeeping services, health services, tourism, aviation, entertainment, and others, as well as with respect to foreign direct investments, special foreign direct investments, professional services, and liaison offices. The following information covers the methods and principles regarding work permit applications concerning foreign direct investments.
1.1. Documents required from the employer at the time of the initial application
- Work permit application letter (The letter must be scanned and submitted as part of the online application; it must also be submitted in hardcopy, signed by the employer).
- Foreign personnel application form (The form filled online must be printed, and a hardcopy signed by the employer and the foreigner must be submitted to the ministry. If the signed form is unavailable, the employment agreement executed by and between the parties must be submitted. The application will not be processed in the absence of a signed form or a labor contract.)
- The Trade Registry Gazette of Turkey, detailing the current shareholding and capital structure of the entity (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- A balance sheet and a profit/loss statement for the most recent year, certified by the tax office or certified public accountant (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Information and documents stating that the entity is subject to Special Foreign Direct Investments* (These documents must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- A document stating that entities (including consortiums) awarded international tenders by government agencies or organizations have been contracted for the awarded job from the relevant agency or organization (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- In the case of legal entities that are to employ foreign specialists in the field of engineering, architecture, contracting, and consulting services, a payroll document stating that Turkish engineers/architects/city planners are employed for the same occupation (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Notarized power of attorney for the person authorized to file the online application as a user on behalf of the entity or organization to employ the foreigner, or a document attesting to the employment of the user at the applicant entity or organization (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
1.2. Documents required from the foreigner at the time of the initial application
- In the case of applications filed in Turkey, a copy of the residence permit issued for other than education purposes with a term of at least six months remaining as of the date of application (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- If a foreigner who files a work permit application does not hold a valid residence permit, the foreigner is required to file an application to the consulates of the Republic of Turkey in the country of which he/she is a citizen or a permanent resident, submitting his/her labor contract or a document attesting to company partnership. However, if the company meets at least one of the criteria required for Special Foreign Direct Investments*, the work permit application can be filed directly with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security provided that the foreigner to be employed with key personnel status is currently staying in Turkey on a legitimate basis (by submitting a copy of the passport showing the visa and entrance date, or a letter obtained from the Police Department). Other key personnel who are granted work permits in this context are required to obtain work visas from consulates of the Republic of Turkey, and enter the country with that visa.
- In the case of foreigners who are key personnel, the documents and information specified in article 10/b of the Regulation on the Employment of Foreign Nationals with Foreign Direct Investments (The documents must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Copy of the passport (where the passport is not printed in the Latin alphabet, a sworn translation or an official certified translation must be attached. The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Sworn translation or an official certified translation of the diploma or provisional graduation certificate (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application, as well as submitted in hardcopy).
- In addition to the abovementioned documents, foreigners who file an application for work permits within the framework of professional services and who hold a degree from abroad must file a “Diploma or Provisional Graduation Equivalency Certificate” obtained in accordance with the “Regulation on the Equivalency of Diplomas from Foreign Higher Education Institutions” (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
2. Application for Extension
Applications for extension of the work permit must be filed by the foreigner or the employer directly with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, by submitting the original copy of the previous work permit, along with the application form and the documents specified in the appendix of the implementation regulation.
The work permit and term extension applications must be first submitted online. In order for the work permit or term extension applications filed online and pre-approved by the system to be valid, the application form print-out with barcode, generated online, must be signed by the foreigner and the employer, and submitted, along with the other documents specified in the appendix to the regulation, to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security within a maximum of six business days following the pre-approval of the online application, either in person or via mail.
Term extension applications should be filed at most two months in advance of the expiration date of the permit. Extension applications filed within a maximum of fifteen days following the expiration of the work permit will also be processed. The term extension applications filed thereafter are subject to the principles applicable to foreigners who file an application for the first time. In the case of work permit term extension applications filed with a valid residence permit (as with first-time applications filed while in Turkey), the required documents must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security within six business days following the online application.
Term extensions for a period of two years may be filed for an existing work permit following the statutory one-year work permit term provided they are for employment with the same entity or enterprise and for the same profession. At the end of the statutory three-year work permit term, the existing work permit may be extended for a further three years, for employment with any employer, for the same profession. Foreigners who have resided in Turkey for at least eight uninterrupted years on a legal basis, or foreigners who have a total of eight years of employment with a work permit, may file applications for indefinite work permits.
2.1. Documents required from the employer at the time of extension applications
- Work permit term extension application letter (The letter must be scanned and submitted as part of the online application; it must also be submitted in hardcopy, signed by the employer).
- Foreign personnel application form (The form filled out online must be printed, and a hardcopy signed by the employer and the foreigner must be submitted to the ministry. The labor contract executed by and between the parties must be submitted where the signed form is unavailable. The application cannot be processed in the absence of a signed form or labor contract.)
- The Trade Registry Gazette of Turkey detailing the current shareholding and capital structure of the entity, if modified since the initial submission (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Document attesting that the employer has no outstanding tax obligations (This information must be accessed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security through the records of the Ministry of Finance).
- The Social Security Institution registration number of the insured foreigner named in the application form, and information regarding whether or not the employer has fulfilled its social security obligations regarding the foreigner (This information must be accessed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security through the records of the Social Security Institution).
- Notarized power of attorney for the person authorized to file the online application as a user on behalf of the entity or organization to employ the foreigner, or a document attesting the employment of the user at the applicant entity or organization (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application)
2.2. Documents required from the foreigner at the time of extension applications
- Copy of the passport (where the passport is not printed in the Latin alphabet, a sworn translation or an official certified translation must be attached. The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Previous work permit and cover letter (The documents must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Residence permit for work, covering the term of the work permit issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
- Provisional membership certificate required from foreigners who are granted work permits for work as an engineer, architect, or city planner, as per article 36 of Law no. 6235 on Turkish Association of Chambers of Engineers and Architects (The document must be scanned and submitted during the online application).
SPECIAL FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS
The “Regulation on the Employment of Foreign Nationals Within the Framework of Foreign Direct Investments” introduced special provisions regarding work permits in order to facilitate work permits. Work permit applications required for personnel to be employed within the framework of foreign direct investments to which these provisions are not applicable are subject to the abovementioned general provisions (Law no. 4817 and Implementation Regulation).
The scope of the Regulation on the Employment of Foreign Nationals Within the Framework of Foreign Direct Investments is defined on the basis of two fundamental criteria:
- Special Foreign Direct Investments (including liaison offices)
- Foreign national key personnel
The term “Special Foreign Direct Investment” refers to a company or branch subject to Law no. 4875, and meeting at least one of the following criteria (figures applicable for year 2016):
- Provided that the foreign shareholders hold at least TRY 1,283,974 of the capital, the company or branch registered a turnover of at least TRY 96.5 million in the most recent year.
- Provided that the foreign shareholders hold at least TRY 1,283,974 of the capital, the company or branch posted an export figure of at least USD 1 million in the most recent year.
- Provided that the foreign shareholders hold at least TRY 1,283,974 of the capital, the company or branch employs in the most recent year, at least 250 personnel registered before the Social Security Institution.
- Provided that, in cases where the company or the branch is to make investments, the planned minimum investment figure is at least TRY 32.1 million.
- Provided that the company has a foreign direct investment in at least one more country other than the country where its headquarters is located.
“Key personnel” refers to personnel who meet at least one of the following criteria, at the legal entity located in Turkey:
a) Persons serving as a company shareholder, chairman of the board of directors, member of the board of directors, chief executive, vice president, executive, assistant executive or similar positions, with authority or a role in at least one of the following
- A senior management or executive position in the company
- Managing the whole or a part of the company
- Auditing or controlling the work of the company auditors, or administrative or technical personnel
- Hiring new personnel or terminating the employment of existing personnel, or making proposals concerning these issues
b) Holding key knowledge regarding the services, research devices, techniques, or management of the company
c) At liaison offices, a maximum of one person in whose name the authorization certificate is issued by the overseas parent company
Charges Applicable to Work Permits for Foreigners: According to the Act of Fees no. 492, work permits to be issued to foreigners are subject to charges. In cases where the work permit application is approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the applicable charge must be deposited with reference to the term of the permit. The applicable charge figures are set each year on the basis of the revaluation rate, and announced in the Official Gazette.
For detailed information on work permits:
TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
According to the relevant provisions of the Labor Law no. 4857, employers and employees are required to give specified notification periods prior to the termination of an employment contract, as shown in the following table.
Required minimum notification periods for employers and employees
Duration of service
Duration of notification period
0 – 6 months
6 – 18 months
18 – 36 months
more than 36 months
There are two types of termination for an employment contract:
1) Termination with notification
Both the employee and the employer may terminate an employment contract concluded for an indefinite period based on the notification periods indicated in the above table. The party who does not abide by the rule to serve notice shall pay compensation covering the wages which correspond to the notification period in order to terminate the employment contract.
2) Termination of an employment contract before the end of the contract period or before the notification periods stated above, based on justifiable and rightful reasons stated in the Labor Law
Both the employer and employee have the right to terminate an employment contract before its expiry or without having to comply with the prescribed notification periods, in the following cases:
- Reasons of health
- Cases arising from immoral, dishonorable or malicious conduct or other similar behavior
- Force majeure
An employee who quits satisfying the conditions indicated in the Labor Law or whose employment contract is terminated by the employer must be compensated with a severance pay to be calculated based on the employees’ seniority at the work place. This indemnity pay is calculated on the basis of the last thirty days’ gross wage per year of the employment contract from the commencement date of employment. The thirty days’ payment per year of employment may not exceed the upper limit determined semi-annually. However, severance pay may be agreed to be paid at an amount higher than the limit indicated above in case there is a provision in the employment contract.
The reasons on the basis of which employees are entitled to receive severance pay are as follows:
- Leaving the workplace due to the compulsory military service (for males)
- Retirement (in order to receive old age, retirement pension or disability allowance from the relevant insurance institutions)
- Resignation of the employee after completing 3,600 premium days and 15 years of insurance period (in case of fulfillment of retirement conditions except the age limit and resignation with the submission of the document from the Social Security Institution indicating the fulfillment of retirement conditions, excluding the age limit, to the employer)
- Voluntary termination by female employees within one year following the date of marriage
- Death of the employee
- Termination of the employment contract not based on a valid reason listed in the Labor Law by the employer and termination of the employment contract by the employer with valid a reason
According to Labor Law, in case the employment contract is terminated by the employer, it is required that the underlying reason of this termination be notified to the employee, and the reason of termination be valid. The employee has the right to file a lawsuit in Labor Court within one month from the date of notification of termination. In the lawsuit to be filed, liability of proving that termination is based on a valid reason belongs to the employer, and if the employee claims that termination is due to another reason, he/she is obligated to prove this claim. In case the court decides that the termination is invalid and the employee is to be reemployed, and if the employee does not apply to the employer within ten work days from the date of notification of the decision to him/her, termination executed by the employer is deemed as a valid termination, and employer is only held responsible for the legal consequences.
TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT
Terms of employment in Turkey are mainly governed by the Labor Law and Trade Union Law.
Pursuant to the Labor Law, there are various types of employment contracts:
a) Employment contracts for “temporary” and “permanent” work
b) Employment contracts for a “definite period” or an “indefinite period”
c) Employment contracts for “part-time” and “full-time” work
d) Employment contracts for “work-upon-call”
e) Employment contracts with a trial period
f) Employment contacts constituted with a team contract
Employment contracts are exempt from stamp tax and any type of duties and fees.
Any kind of discrimination among employees with respect to language, race, gender, political opinion, philosophical approach, religion or similar criteria is prohibited by law. Discrimination based on the gender of an employee is prohibited when determining the amount of remuneration for employees working in the same or equivalent jobs.
Working Hours and Overtime
Under the Labor Law, the maximum regular working hours are 45 hours per week. In principle, 45 hours should be split equally among the working days. However, in accordance with the Labor Law, working hours may be arranged by the employer within the legal limits.
As a rule, hours exceeding the limit of 45 hours per week are to be paid as “overtime hours”. The wage/salary for each hour of overtime work is paid by raising the hourly rate of the regular working salary by fifty percent. Instead of the overtime payment, employees may be granted 1.5 hours of free time for every overtime hour worked. Overtime hours worked during weekends and public holidays are to be paid as wage for one-day holiday and overtime wage. These rates may be increased on the basis of a collective or personal employment contracts between employees and employers. The total number of overtime hours worked per year may not exceed 270 hours.
Annual Paid Vacation
There are six paid public holidays per year (January 1st, April 23rd, May 1st, May 19th, August 30th, October 29th), plus two paid periods of religious holiday, which comes to eight days in total. Employees are entitled to paid annual vacation for the periods indicated below, provided that they have worked for at least one year including the probation period:
Years of work
Minimum paid vacation period
1 – 5 years (inclusive)
14 working days
5 – 15 years
20 working days
15 years (inclusive) or longer
26 working days
These benefits are the minimum levels set by law and may be increased on the basis of a collective or personal employment contracts.
As per the Regulation regarding the Payment of Wages, Premiums, Bonuses and Any Other Remuneration, in case the employer recruits at least 5 workers within the same workplace or across the whole country; any payment to workers shall be made through banks. If wage and salary amounts are not paid into employees’ bank accounts, an administrative penalty is charged to the employer. It is possible to denominate wages/salaries in terms of a foreign currency. In this case, wages/salaries shall be paid in TRY calculated on the basis of the relevant foreign currency rate prevailing as of the payment date.