Turkey is a country with a rich history, mild climate, and developed tourist industry. Many people relocate to Turkey because of its high standard of living and a relatively easy residency process. Applying for a residence permit means that you must keep certain requirements in mind, but as long as you are prepared in advance, the process is relatively straightforward.
Read on to learn where to get the Turkish residence permit application form, how to complete it, which documents are required and where to submit your application.
Main Types of Residence Permits in Turkey
According to Turkish law, all foreigners with an expired visa or reaching the end of their visa-free period must obtain a residence permit, confirmed by a special document called ikamet. This is a plastic card with your photograph and your personal details, issued for a maximum of five years with the possibility of further renewal. There are several different types of residence permit.
Short-term Residence Permit
This is the most common and popular type of residence permit. Tourists, entrepreneurs, students from Turkish language courses, property owners, researchers, scientists, and many other applicants can obtain the ikamet for a maximum of two years. Citizens of partially recognised Northern Cyprus and major investors can get a residence permit for a period of five years. To do this, investors must fulfil one of the following conditions:
- Make a minimum capital investment of $500,000.
- Deposit $500,000 in a bank, private pension funds, government bonds, real estate investment fund or a venture capital investment fund. To keep this type of residence permit, you cannot withdraw your investment from the Turkish economy for at least three years.
- Acquire a property worth at least $400,000. You cannot resell it within the next three years.
- Create a company and jobs for at least 50 people.
Photo: Wei Pan (Unsplash)
Family Residence Permit
This residence permit valid for a maximum of three years is issued for foreign spouses of Turkish citizens and foreigners who have legally resided in the country for at least a year. Children, both minors and dependents, can also obtain this type of residence permit with their parents.
Student Residence Permit
This type of residence permit is available for students of higher education, as well as primary and secondary education; only for those, of course, who do not already have a family residence permit. As for the duration of permitted stay in the country, it depends on the duration of the study programme. If your studies last less than a year, your ikamet will have the same validity period. If your study programme takes more time, you will get a renewable residence permit for one year.
Long-term Residence Permit
This is basically a permanent residence permit and its holders have many of the rights and responsibilities of Turkish citizens, with the exception of electoral rights, military duty, holding public office and some others.
To obtain a permanent residence permit, you must:
- legally reside in the country for eight years or more;
- receive no social assistance from the Turkish state within three years before applying;
- have health insurance valid throughout Turkey;
- prove sufficient funds or income to support you and your family, if applicable;
- prove that you have been a law-abiding resident throughout your entire residence period.
Humanitarian Residence Permit
This is an exceptional type of residence permit issued for one year. General rules do not apply to humanitarian residence permits because each case is processed individually. Here are just a few examples of situations when one can obtain this type of residence permit:
- A foreigner is to be deported from Turkey, but cannot be sent back to their home country because it poses a danger to their safety. Health conditions can also be a valid reason for not being able to travel, as well as cases when people in need of medical treatment cannot get it in their home country.
- A foreigner has appealed a deportation decision and the case is in court. Until the final decision, a foreigner can stay in Turkey with a humanitarian residence permit.
Halfeti. Photo: Enes Aktas (Unsplash)
Residence Permit for Victims of Human Trafficking
Just like the previous type of residence permit, this is an exceptional permit. General rules for other types of residence permits do not apply here. Only real victims of human trafficking or those who have strong circumstantial evidence that they might face this danger have the right to obtain this type of residential permit. The permit is first issued for 30 days and can be renewed every six months, but for a maximum of three years in total.
How to Apply for a Residence Permit in Turkey
Turkish immigration law states that residence permits are issued in consulates abroad and only in exceptional circumstances in Turkey. In reality, applications abroad are not accepted. To obtain a temporary or a permanent residence permit, you must make an appointment with the immigration service and visit it in person. If that is not possible, you can apply for residence permit through an authorised intermediary, your lawyer or a legal representative.
You can apply for short-term, family, student, and long-term residence permits by making an appointment with the immigration service on the e-ikamet portal. To do this you need to:
- Complete an application form for a residence permit. You can apply even if your visa or visa-free period has expired; after that, you have ten days to submit your application. Just the fact of sending an application ensures the legality of your stay in the country. You will have to leave Turkey only if your application is rejected. If your permit is granted, your residence permit will be valid from the date of your application and not from the date of receiving the ikamet.
- Pay the fee. The fee depends on your citizenship. When you submit your application, the system generates the payment. You can pay directly on the website or contact the local tax office, authorised banks or the cash desk of the Turkish Ministry of Treasury and Finance. After payment, the system will set the date and time of your visit to the immigration office.
- Visit the immigration office; submit your documents and fingerprints. Turkish immigration law is generally flexible when it comes to various mistakes; even if your document set is not complete, this will not result in automatic rejection. You will have 30 days to submit the missing papers.
- Wait for a decision. The processing time depends on the workload in the particular immigration office but this period should not exceed 90 days. During this period, you can travel abroad and stay there for up to 15 days.
- Receive your plastic ikamet card.
To obtain a residence permit, in all cases you will need:
- Your passport, which must be valid on the date of application and at least 60 days after expiration of the residence permit you are applying for;
- Proof of your financial solvency. For short-term and student residence permits, you just have to declare your income online. When applying for a family residence permit, the hosting party has to prove the availability of at least one third of the Turkish minimum wage for each applicant per month. The total income of such a spouse or parent cannot be less than one minimum wage, which is TRY 11,402 or $429 (at the time of writing). For a long-term residence permit, you will need to prove that you have a stable and sufficient income. This could take the form of rent, salary, or a sufficient amount in your bank account. You can provide any documents as proof: pension certificate, bank account or card statement, a letter from your employer indicating your income, and so on;
- Four biometric photographs;
- Medical insurance;
- Proof of residence in Turkey, for example, a rental agreement or property ownership documents. You should also provide your residence registration, if any.
This is a general list of documents for residence permits in Turkey. Depending on the grounds for obtaining a residence permit, this list may include a marriage certificate, a certificate of no social assistance for three years, a certificate of no criminal record, and so on.
Halfeti. Photo: Плотина Деринер, (Unsplash)
If you are submitting your application yourself without a lawyer, the cost of a Turkish residence permit consists of:
- The fee for the document itself. The amount is set annually by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance. In 2023, it was TRY 356 or $13.
- The residence permit fee. This fee depends on your citizenship. Citizens of 158 countries pay $25 for the first month of residence and $5 for each subsequent month. Citizens of some countries have to pay less or do not have to pay at all. In contrast, applicants from Serbia, Fiji, Norway, and the Northern Mariana Islands have to pay significantly more for their residence in Turkey.
You can learn more about the current fees on the website of the Directorate General for Migration Management in Turkey.
In a Nutshell
Foreigners wishing to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days can apply for a short-term, student or family residence permit. To do this, you need to sign up online with the immigration service, visit their office at the appointed time, provide the required set of documents, and submit your fingerprints. If your application is approved, you will receive a plastic ikamet card confirming that its holder has a residence permit. In the future, after legally living in the country for eight years, you can apply for permanent residence, which gives its holder almost all the rights of a Turkish citizen.
Cover photo: Blue Mosque, Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt (Unsplash)