Middle East

Turkey Implements Significant Changes in Work Permit Criteria - Jun 21, 2011

Turkey's Ministry of Labor and Social Security released a communiqué on July 28, 2010, regarding criteria to be considered in adjudicating work permits. The communiqué is pursuant to Article 13 of the Implementation Regulation on the Foreigner's Work Permit Code (#4817). It is unprecedented for the Ministry to publicly announce concrete details of adjudication factors.

The Ministry indicates in the communiqué that in adjudicating work permits, the following criteria must be met:
1. New 5:1 Ratio: There must be at least five Turkish citizen employees per foreign national applicant, as evidenced on payroll records.
a. (Exception: Newly established legal entities can be founded by a foreign individual. If such an investor owns at least 20 percent (but amounting to no less than Turkish Lira/TRY 40,000 - the current exchange rate is 1.5 TRY to 1 USD) worth of shares of the entity and, within 6 months, the five-employee criterion can be met, a work permit may be approved for the foreign partner/investor.)
2. Capital requirements: The employer's paid in capital must be at least TRY 100,000. In the alternative, the employer may show gross (assumedly annual) sales amounting to TRY 800,000, or exports with a gross annual value of US $250,000.
a. (Exception: In the case of a nonprofit or private employer, criterion #2 will not apply.)
3. Salary: The foreign employee's salary must be commensurate with the position offered. More specifically, certain managers, pilots, and engineers/architects and teachers cannot be paid less than a specified amount times the minimum wage. (Gross minimum wage is TRY 760.50 for the period of July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2010.) All others must be paid at least 1.5 times the minimum wage.
The communiqué offers guidance on other professions and workplaces as well.
Additionally, issued in the Official Gazette on July 31, 2010, were changes to the "Application Regulation of Law No. 4817 Related to Work Permits for Foreigners."
The two most significant amendments specify:
1. Online filing: Work Permit applications must be filed online. The signed application form and supporting documents must be sent to the Ministry within 6 business days from the online application date.
2. Employer's finances: The Ministry now again requires the prior year's profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet approved by the certified financial advisor or Tax Office. (This reverses a decision in February 2010 to no longer require them in most cases.)
2010 has seen an unprecedented level of change in Turkish immigration law, both in procedures and details of adjudication criteria. Late in the year, the implementation of the online filing system caused a tremendous increase in adjudication time and formal "requests for further documentation." It is hoped that in 2011, many of the above changes will be integrated fully so that adjudication will return to a smoother process.
The communiqué is available at http://www.yabancicalismaizni.gov.tr/tr/index.html.