Work Permits and Exemptions in Turkey

In the following article, we are going to examine the conditions required to obtain a work permits and exemptions in Turkey for foreigners,


Due to the foreign migration that Turkey receives, for foreign nationals acquiring work permits in Turkey is becoming more important every day. A work permit or work permit exemption is necessary for any foreign national in Turkey who wants to work.

If the foreigner is not covered by bilateral or multilateral agreements to which Turkey is a party work permit is a must to be employed within the borders of the Republic of Turkey.

Although a work permit is also a substitute for a residence permit, a residence permit does not replace a work permit. Work permit applications is given by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The concept of reciprocity principle is quite important to obtain a working permit.

The principle of reciprocity is a diplomatic term and a principle based on interstate relations, which means that the party states mutually agree on the obligations in their agreements.

Work Permits and Exemptions in Turkey

Law No. 6735 on the International Labor Force and its Implementing Regulation adjust the obligations to be followed in work permits and exemptions from work permits. In addition to these regulations, Law No. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection and its Implementing Regulation provide exemptions for foreigners seeking protection in Turkey.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is the competent authority in this process, applications must be submitted to the Ministry directly from Turkey or from abroad through the foreign missions of the Republic of Turkey.

Work Permits and Exemptions in Turkey
Work Permits and Exemptions in Turkey

Foreigners must have a contract with an employer in order to obtain a work permit. Foreigners who are members of a profession may also be granted an independent work permit if certain special conditions are met. The law stipulates that the work permit applications shall be evaluated in accordance with international labor policy, taking into account factors such as the foreigner’s level of education, professional experience, contribution to science and technology in Turkey, and impact on employment.

Work permits are issued by the Ministry in accordance with the international labor policy of the Republic of Turkey. Foreigners are prohibited from working or being employed in Turkey without a work permit and are subject to administrative penalties. Applications for work permit extensions must be submitted at least 60 days before the work permit expires.

Application Process for Work Permit and Exemptions in Turkey

Work permit applications must be submitted directly to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in Turkey, while work permit applications from abroad must be submitted to the Foreign Mission of the Republic of Turkey in the corresponding country. Foreigners who are going to be employed will be granted a residence permit for the maximum duration of the employment contract.

The Ministry evaluates the applications in accordance with the decisions of the International Labor Policy Advisory Board. Not all professions can be practiced by foreigners in Turkey determined in the law. In addition, the work permit applications of foreigners who cannot prove that they have sufficient qualifications will be rejected. It is beneficial for both the employer and the foreign national to seek the advice of a lawyer who specializes in this field in order to assist in the collection of the necessary documents and to ensure a quick and complete process.

Turquoise Card Application

A Turquoise Card may be issued to foreigners whose application is deemed appropriate considering the impact of their activity or investment in Turkey on the country’s economy and employment. This card is issued with a transitional period for the first three years and can be extended indefinitely by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security 180 days before its expiration by reviewing the benefit of the investment or activity to the country during these three years.

The spouse and dependent children of the Turquoise Card holder will also receive a document in lieu of a residence permit stating that they are related to the Turquoise Card holder, and Turquoise Card holders are entitled to an infinite working permit. Foreigners who have made or are expected to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of exports, employment and investment with their significant investments in Turkey within the framework of qualified labor are entitled to a Turquoise Card. 

What is Work Permit Exemption?

Foreigners within the scope of work permit exemption can work in the Republic of Turkey without obtaining a work permit, but they must apply for a work permit exemption either domestically or from abroad through the same procedures.

The services and time spent by foreigners who have worked or resided in Turkey in accordance with this exemption are not considered within the scope of the residence and work permit conditions.

Turkish Commercial Code No. 6102 regulated in accordance with the board of directors of companies who do not reside in Turkey and the partners of other companies who do not have the title of manager, their activities carried out in Turkey within the framework of a certain limited period of time are not considered in the scope of work permit exemption.

Exceptional Circumstances for Work Permits and Exemptions in Turkey

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security may issue work permits and exemptions in Turkey on an exceptional basis in accordance with the international labor policy to be determined by the Ministry. In this process, the Ministry may grant exceptions to those who are considered qualified workers or investors based on characteristics such as the amount of investment or exports or the size of the employment to be provided, and the level of education, salary, work experience, contribution to science and technology of the person seeking a work permit.

There are exceptions such as foreigners who will be employed by their employer in a project in Turkey, citizens of European Union member countries.

Foreigners under International Protection

According to Law No. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection, foreigners who are protection seekers or conditional refugees may apply for a work permit or exemption from work six months after they have been issued a valid identity document. Work permits issued to them while their protection status is maintained are considered valid.

Status of Foreign Students

Foreign students enrolled in formal education programs at higher education institutions in Turkey may work if they obtain a work permit. Associate and undergraduate students may apply for a work permit after completing the first year of their studies and may work part-time in accordance with Labor Law No. 4857.

In the case of foreigners who have completed their higher education, the application will be evaluated according to the principles established by the International Labor Policy Advisory Board.

Foreign Engineers and Architects

Foreigners who have completed their education in the engineering and architecture faculties of a higher education institution in Turkey or in a higher education institution abroad recognized by the relevant country authorities and the Council of Higher Education.Persons who have received the titles of engineer and architect may practice engineering and architecture professions by obtaining a project-based and temporary work permit.

Some of the Multilateral International Agreements that apply to foreigners who wants to work in Turkey

Ankara Agreement Also known as the Turkey-European Union Association Agreement, signed in 1963 between Turkey and the European Economic Community, this agreement was signed with the aim of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers between the parties, but gives citizens of EU member states the right to work in Turkey.

International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions: As a member of the International Labor Organization, Turkey has ratified many of its conventions. Among these conventions, there are many different articles, such as the Employment Policy Convention No. 120, which regulates the rights of foreign workers and provides rights to workers on the basis of reciprocity for signatory countries.

The articles of each agreement may differ and the working conditions of each foreigner may vary depending on the countries with which the agreement is signed. Therefore, in order to obtain a work permit or a work permit exemption in Turkey, it is advisable to seek the services of a lawyer to ensure that such bureaucratic procedures are carried out quickly and without error.

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Juriste Baran İSTANBULLU

Att. Arzu Arslan KOLLAMA

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