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Interior Ministry relaxes residency, work permit rules for foreigners
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 02 Jun 2012 Sat 11:12 am

 

Interior Ministry relaxes residency, work permit rules for foreigners

1 June 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL


The Interior Ministry issued a decree on Friday that changes regulations regarding residence and work permits for foreigners, a move that experts say eases some recently introduced restrictions to obtaining residence permits. The decree seeks to address problems caused by an earlier rule change that went into force on Jan. 13, 2012, that restricted the duration of stay for foreign nationals to 90 days within 180 days.

The new decree, which was sent last Monday to all governor´s offices across the country, also reduces the fee for obtaining work permits to TL 150 from TL 650. It also enlarges the scope of the purpose of visits by foreign nationals, automatically issuing residence permits for foreigners who come to Turkey for meetings, conferences, cultural activities and commercial ties. Foreigners who have residence permits valid for six months will be able to obtain work permits by applying to the Labor and Social Security Ministry.

The decree, which is now in effect, also seeks to legalize foreign nationals, especially those individuals who work in Turkish citizens´ homes as nurses or maids. It reduces the rate of insurance premium payments that need to be paid by employers for work permits to be issued at the premium rate that corresponds to minimum wage. The previous regulation had employers pay one-and-a-half times the insurance premium rate indicated for minimum wage earners. The decree also allows foreign nationals who violate visa regulations to obtain residence permits on the condition that they pay the permit fees and legal penalties if they overstayed their visa. The decree notes that the new regulations seek to fend off any possible negative effects the former regulations may be having on the tourism industry. It also states that well-meaning individuals will be protected by the changes. “Foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas or residence permits ... will be noted in official records, albeit for a brief period.

Until the end of 2012, every individual will be given a one-time residence permit valid for up to six months. In addition, foreign nationals who want to go abroad [and who have single entry visas] will be excluded from the temporary re-entry ban as long as they pay the any fees or penalties stemming from visa violations.”

“The new regulation certainly is positive and makes it easy to include into the system foreign nationals working illegally, particularly individuals who are employed in houses as caregivers for the elderly or the sick. The head of the Immigration General Directorate earlier said there had been attempts such as training courses to direct Turks into these areas, but the local population hasn’t shown much interest,” said Berk Çektir, a licensed attorney at law who specializes in the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey.

“Previously, say, if you had a Uzbek employee, you would have to apply to the Labor Ministry, while your employee would have to go to the Turkish Consulate in Uzbekistan. Now, the employee will be able to apply for a work permit here without going back to her home country, and pay TL 150 instead of TL 650.” Çektir noted that the change also allows the state to gain the insurance premium payments from employers of foreign nationals by legalizing foreign nationals currently working illegally.

A certified public accountant who specializes in regulations regarding foreign businesses who asked to be unnamed said the decree was an improvement, noting: “This is a positive decree for individuals who have made their business plans for this year, without taking into consideration the most recent legal changes [adopted in January 2012] regarding permits for foreigners. It is a good regulation to include foreign nationals who work here or who are employed by Turkish companies or individuals.”

Foreigners living in Turkey are also pleased with the change. A.N., who is employed at a private institution, said: “When I first moved here a year and a half ago, I could not believe I had to make border runs every three months. It was inconvenient and sometimes expensive, especially since I was working and taking Turkish classes. I was not sure how much longer I could continue making those runs. The new regulation certainly eases obtaining a residence permit and my life here in general.”

M.J., who also works at a private company, was more cautious. “If the Ministry of Labor cooperates and does indeed issue work permits to foreigners working illegally in the country or looking to start work here, then these are certainly positive developments.

 

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