Türkiye, which changed its name from ‘Turkey’ in June 2022, attracts many visitors each year, and some countries’ nationals are Visa-exempt; others can apply for an online e-Visa, while those not eligible for the e-Visa can apply for a Visa stamp at a local embassy or consulate in their home country. These Visas allow visitors 90 days for holidays or some business activities. Costs vary according to the government for those who are not Visa-exempt. There may also be extra charges from the Visa company applied through.

Companies expanding into Türkiye and onboarding their employees from home or elsewhere overseas require work documentation and ensure their staff are legal and compliant. However, sometimes bureaucracy slows down implementation updates to immigration laws or new systems. Foreigners must have a work Visa and work permit with few exceptions. Both employer and employee take part in the work visa/permit process.

Many companies expanding into new territory look towards a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR), such as Bradford Jacobs, to set up their business, recruit staff and operate payroll to save time and money. This includes acquiring immigration and work documentation. After 20 years of working in this area, we are aware of potential problems and have the experience to solve them. Here are some guidelines to assist you.

The different types of Visas and Work Permits for Türkiye

As with most countries, Türkiye protects its borders and requires documentation to enter, stay, and work there. Applicants need to be aware of the procedures as these differ between tourist and business Visas compared to work and study Visas. Also, passports must be valid for 60 days beyond the Visa’s validity whether holders have a Visa from the embassy (or foreign representation), an e-Visa or are Visa-exempt.

Visa Types

  • Tourist/Business: 10 categories including Tourism; Transit; Business Meetings; Conference; Festivals; Sports; Art
  • Official Visa: 2 categories
  • Student/Education: 7 categories
  • Work Visa: 7 categories including Employment; Assigned – lecturers/sportspeople/artists/Free Zone workers/journalists.
  • AMS Visa for Assembly, Maintenance and Service: Short-term, multi-entry Visa for 90 days in 365 days without needing a work permit.
  • Other purposes: 8 categories, including medical, tour operators, and family reunification.

Foreigners wanting to work in Türkiye require:

  • Work Visa to enter for work purposes.
  • A Work Permit also serves as a Residence Permit if sponsored by an employer.

This is the permission for the company to employ a foreigner and for the employee to work in Türkiye. Employees apply for the Work Visa through an embassy or consulate (or foreign representation) in their home country when they have an employment contract. The employer is also the sponsor and deals with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) regarding documentation and application for the Work Permit.

When the work permit is approved, the Ministry notifies the embassy abroad and issues the Work Visa allowing the employee to enter the country. However, the Turkish MLSS finalizes the permit and posts the Work Permit Card to the employer.

Work Permits are available for the following:

  • Foreign Domestics
  • Under International Protection Law
  • Under Temporary Protection
  • Foreigners Abroad with an Employment Contract and Letter of Invitation OR Assignment Letter. The employer/sponsor can apply for the work permit while the employee applies for the Work Visa.
  • Foreigners in Türkiye who enter with an e-Visa and have a Tourist Residence Permit with more than six months validity can look for work, and the employer can apply for the work permit without the employee needing to contact the consulate.
  • Turkuaz (Turquoise) Card. Some of the eligible persons who qualify:
  1. Available to highly qualified people regarding educational qualifications and professional work experience.
  2. Investors: determined by the size of investment or exports generated.
  3. Science and research professionals.

Note: Check to see if this permit is fully operational, as some Visa and permit changes and legal updates have noticed a lack of guidance and slow implementation.

Three classifications of Work Permits

  • Temporary Work Permits: These are applied for by the employer (the sponsor) for workers with an employment contract, generally for one year initially. However, this can be determined by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security depending on which city or location the individual is employed, as some areas are closed for residency. This can be extended up to two years, providing the employee does the same job for the employer. After three years of working legally in Türkiye, it can be extended for a further three years for the same job but for any legal employer.
  • Permanent Work Permits: Granted to persons who have legally lived in the country for eight years consecutively or have worked up to six years.
  • Independent Work Permit: Available to foreigners upon five years of continuous residence if their activities benefit the economy.

For companies expanding into the country and onboarding their staff from abroad, the Foreigner Abroad Work Permit, a Temporary Work Permit, applies. However, certain conditions must be met by the employer and employee.

Residence Permit: Is required by people who wish to stay in Türkiye for longer than 90 days. People with an employment contract and sponsoring employer receiving a Work Permit do not require the Residence Permit.

How to apply for Visas and Work Permits for Türkiye?

There are different routes into the Turkish workplace, but many companies sponsor their employees when bringing them from abroad on an employment contract when the following documentation is required:

  • A Work Visa to enter for work purposes.
  • A Work Permit which negates the need for a Residence Permit, enables the worker to live and work in the country.

The process starts at embassies and consulates abroad, with the employee requesting an interview through their online portal to initiate the Work Visa procedure and submit documentation. The Embassy issues a 16-digit reference number for the employee to give to the employer, who then offers the rest of the documents to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, MLSS) within ten days. The papers must have been translated as necessary and notarised. When approved, the MLSS contacts the Embassy abroad and notifies the employee to collect the Work Visa. The Foreigner Work Permit Card is issued by the MLSS and posted to the employer’s address.

The employee enters Türkiye, and the employer activates the Work Permit Card. They pay fees and register the worker with the Social Security Institution regarding healthcare, benefits, and entitlements. Before day 20 in Türkiye, applicants must give their home address to their employer to be registered with a local Directorate of Populations Registry (NVI).

Documents needed for the application process of work documentation:

From the Employer for Work Permit

  • Letter of Petition on letterhead paper requesting the Work Permit and the application form – scanned for online application and a signed hard copy addressed to the MLSS.
  • Personnel application printed out and signed by both parties. If not available, the signed employment contract with all details of employment, salary, duties, and duration of work.
  • The Turkish Trade Registry Gazette excerpt shows the company’s shareholding and capital structure.
  • Profit and loss statement and last approved balance sheet notarized by an auditor or chartered accountant.
  • Certificate of incorporation.
  • Copy of employee passport translated and notarised, plus photo.
  • Copies of all educational qualifications and work experience relevant to the job – translated and notarised. Check if degrees or diplomas require authorisation by any Turkish Institute of Higher Education.
  • Authorisation for individuals to complete the work permit process online (Visa electronic signature).

From Employee for Work Visa

  • A passport valid for at least 90 days over the expiration date of the Visa PLUS a translated and notarised copy and blank pages for the Visa.
  • Application form for Work Visa.
  • Passport-styled biometric photographs.
  • Copy of the signed employment contract.
  • All relevant qualifications, work experience (if necessary), and a translated and notarised copy.
  • Petition Letter on letter headed paper from the employer, signed by an authorised person to act on behalf of the company detailing employment details, duties, and duration.
  • Proof of residency in the country applying from.
  • A clean Police report from the home country, PLUS the country of residence, if applicable.
  • Health insurance (may depend on the Embassy) but recommended until covered by the Social Security Institution (SSI).

Non-refundable Fees need to be paid by the foreigner for processing the Work Visa, the Work Permit and Residency, which is part of the Work Permit. The Work Visa is stamped in the passport. The Work Permit is sent to the employer’s address. The employee enters Türkiye.

The procedures can take four to eight weeks, depending on all the correct documentation.


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