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TURKEY – New Foreign Labour Law Takes Effect

, 22/08/2016

On 13 August 2016, Turkey published the “Law On International Workforce” (Law No. 6735, approved on 28 July 2016) in the official gazette, with immediate effect.

However, guidance on implementation of the new law has yet to be published, so the full implications of the changes are not yet known.

What is in the new law?

  • A new category called “Turquoise Card” will be given to foreign nationals after evaluation of their educational level, professional experience, their contribution to science and technology, and the impact of their investments in Turkey. Turquoise Cards will be issued with indefinite term following a three- year conditional period, without the need for a sponsoring employer. Foreign nationals granted a Turquoise card will have the same rights accorded to Turkish citizens. Their dependents are also granted residence permits.
  • Health and Academic Sectors: Foreign nationals employed in the medical or academic sectors requiring professional competence must first obtain “interim permission” from the relevant authorities prior to adjudication of their work permit with the MOL.
  • Engineers/Architects: Foreign nationals holding engineering and architecture diplomas issued from an engineering or architecture faculty of a Turkish university or from a foreign university recognized by the Higher Education Council (YÖK) in Turkey, will be able to apply for work permits in order to work as engineers or architects under a project or short term assignment without proving the equivalence of their diploma. If they need to work in Turkey for more than a month, they must be registered with the relevant Chamber of Engineering.
  • Work Permit Exemptions: Under specified conditions a foreign national may apply to the MOL or to a Turkish consular post to be exempted from a work permit. Foreign national non-resident board members of joint-stock companies that are founded pursuant to Law No. 6102, non-executive partners of other companies, and cross-border service providers whose in-country activities do not exceed 90 out of 180 days will be considered for work permit exemption. Note that it is not yet certain whether this exemption will apply to both service providers working for a client in Turkey and intra-company transferees working at a Turkish subsidiary of their employer.
  • Some changes to NGO-sponsored work permits and those for students, Temporary Protection Status, appeal rights, inspection, social security obligations, and penalties are also covered in the new law.

Action Items

  • Expect changes to the work permit system in Turkey in the coming months, and check the latest situation with a Turkish provider on a case by case basis.