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Freedom of labor is one of the rights which is protected and provided with the international agreements which Turkey is a signatory and especially Turkish Constitution Article 48. However, as the result of State sovereignty and public policy, the persons who have not Turkish citizenship are subjected to some restriction, in other words, they are basically required to obtain a work permit to work in Turkey.


The conditions and scope of the right to work of Foreigners in Turkey and the regulations which regulate this field are developed day by day in Turkey. International Workforce Law numbered 6735 (hereinafter referred to as “International Workforce Law “ or “Law”) entered into force 13 August 2016 which regulates the policies relating international labor and specifies and provides the new procedures and principles, competent authorities and right and liabilities in relation to work permit and work permit exemptions.


Conditions of having the right to work in Turkey for Foreigners.

Basically, the foreigners subject to International Workforce Law must have a work permit to be employed in Turkey. The competent authority is Ministry of Labor and Social Security (“Ministry) for applying for work permit and the scope and principles regarding work permit applications and assessment on the applications by the Ministry are regulated in International Workforce Law Article 6 to 15.  Pursuant to these provisions, work permit applications shall be made directly to the Ministry, and the applications in abroad shall be made to the embassies or consulate generals of the Republic of Turkey in the foreigner’s country by the person concerned or the authorized intermediary. Ministry shall evaluate properness of application to the purpose of the Law and international workforce policy with its discretionary power. If the application was made properly with the procedure and policy, evaluation process shall not be extended more than 30 days.


Additionally, in some cases, preliminary permission shall be given. In order to work in healthcare and educational services requiring certain professional competence, preliminary permission must be given by Ministry of Health in healthcare service and Ministry of National Education in educational services. Also, foreign nationals teaching assistants who are work within the scope of Higher Education Law Numbered 2547 must be granted preliminary permission by The Council of Higher Education. The purpose of this preliminary permission process is the assessment of the applicants’ sufficiency in the field that they serve.


Types of Work Permit

Article 10 of the Law regulates the terms of work permit. In accordance with this provision, foreigners shall be granted upmost one year work permit to be employed for a certain job in a certain workplace owned by a real person or legal entity, or public institution and public enterprise, or in the workplaces belong to these employers in the same sector on their first application. After one year, the extension application shall be made in accordance with Article 7 of the Law and upon foreigner’s favorably assessed application for extension, upmost two years extension shall be given on the first application. And in the subsequent applications, maximum 3 years extension shall be granted in each application. Foreigners willing to work under the different employer are required to apply for a new work permit for one year.


On the other hand, the foreigners who have the long-term residence permit or at least 8 years work permit in Turkey, can apply for permanent work permit. It is never meant to the foreigner fulfilling these conditions shall always be granted to a permanent work permit. The application shall be assessed and may be rejected by the Ministry. There are lots of advantages of the permanent work permit such that they shall benefit from the same rights providing by long-term residence permit and even, they shall benefit from the same rights as Turkish citizens with the exception of provisions in laws regulating specific areas and without prejudice to acquired rights of the foreigners with respect to social security. Nevertheless, permanent work permit holders have no right to vote and stand for election and work in public service. And they are not required to attend compulsory military service.

One of the other types of work permit is independent work permit which is granted to foreigners who members of a profession provided that they fulfill the special terms set forth in other laws. Independent work permit shall be granted for a certain time but the term shall be determined by the Ministry.


And also, managing partner of limited liability companies, associates of joint-stock companies who are also member of board of directors and acting partners of commandite companies with a capital divided into shares may work by obtaining a work permit.


Turquoise Card Regulation

International Workforce Law provides a facilitated work permit system and promotes the access to qualified foreign workforces and foreigners who have vocational qualifications, professional experiences and educational background. Within this concept, the foreigners having required specialties can apply to have Turquoise Card which provides permanent working right in Turkey.


Turquoise Card shall be given by Ministry and provided that its first three years will be considered as a transition period. In case, Turquoise Card does not canceled as the result of the reasons indicated Article 15 within the transition period, the foreigner shall be granted permanent Turquoise Card. Turquoise Card holder shall benefit from the rights provided to permanent work permit holders. Turquoise Card, also shall give some special right to card holder’s spouse and dependent children too.


Foreigners who do not have to get work permit to work in Turkey

Firstly, foreign nationals who are permitted to work in Turkey without a work permit in accordance with bilateral or multilateral agreements or international conventions of which Turkey is the party and Turkish citizens who intentionally denounced their citizenship under the Law of Turkish Citizenship numbered 5901 Article 18, can work in Turkey without having a work permit.


On the other hand, Article 13 of International Workforce Law regulates work permit exemption and pursuant to Law, executive board members of the joint stock companies who are not resident in Turkey, shareholders of companies (other than joint stock companies) who are not directors, foreign students, architectures, engineers and qualified foreigners from the point of education level, work experience, contribution of science and technology are subjected to this exemption. Also, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Citizens and European Union citizens, foreigners who have international protection pursuant to Law numbered 6458 such as, conditional refugees, foreigners having temporary protection, stateless persons and victims of human trafficking do not have to obtain a work permit to work in Turkey.


Lastly, it should be noted that the applicants can object the decision of ministry within 30 days upon the date of notification. If the objection is rejected, the applicants may also appeal to the administrative court pursuant to Article 21/2 of the Law.


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