WORKING ABROAD / DEC. 23, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Get a Work Visa in Turkey

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Many people are attracted to Turkey for numerous reasons, the Mediterranean lifestyle, diverse culture, and proximity to both Europe and Asia. However, the unemployment rate is high, and getting a work permit is difficult. The Turkish government doesn’t hide the fact that it wants employers to hire Turks first. That affects both the type of jobs foreigners can get and how they get permission to do it. Here’s what you need to know about getting a work visa in Turkey.

The basics

  • Foreigners are legally prohibited from working in certain fields, including mining, diving, maritime navigation, working on ships, etc. They’re also prohibited from working in many service-industry jobs like waiter/ waitress and shop clerk. In addition, foreigners are forbidden from becoming doctors, nurses, dentists, vets, pharmacists, opticians, judges, lawyers, security guards, and notaries. Even outside of those restricted categories, your employer has to be able to prove that the job can’t be filled by a Turkish citizen.
  • You also can’t just show up in Turkey and hope to find a job. You need to have a job offer from a company that is willing to handle all of the red tape required to hire a foreigner within 10 days of your application.
  • The fields that are most open to foreigners include: teaching (English language), finance, hospitality, real estate, engineering, information technology, human resources, business, design, and sales.

What you need to do

You can apply for a work visa at the Turkish consulate either in your home country or the country in which you’re currently living. You’ll need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Photo
  • A copy of your work contract
  • The visa application
  • Application fees

Be prepared to include the following information with your application:

  • Marital status and nationality/citizenship of your spouse (if any)
  • Details and copies of any previous Turkish work permits
  • Educational history
  • Details of any previous time spent in Turkey, including your residential address and reason for being in the country
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any people or companies you’re using as a reference

What your employer needs to do

Your employer must seek permission from the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security and prove that no Turk with the required skills was available to fill the position. The required information typically includes:

  • The company name and address
  • The date of establishment
  • Whether the company is Turkish or foreign-owned
  • The type of business
  • The previous year’s exports in dollars
  • Number of Turkish workers the company employees
  • Proposed term of employment
  • Proposed salary
  • Reason for hiring a foreigner rather than a Turkish citizen

If all of the required documentation is in order, processing usually takes between one and two months. You’ll be notified by email when your permit is approved, and you’ll have three months to pick up your permit from the consulate where you applied. Once you arrive in Turkey, you’ll have 30 days to apply for a residency permit from the alien’s branch of the local police department.

Living and working in Turkey can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It’s not easy to get a work visa, but once you have it and are working in Turkey, you’ll realize it was worth the effort.

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