Living Turkey and the Visa System.

By | on 18th November 2014 | 8 Comments

Last week I wrote about how difficult and in my opinion how unfair the UK Visa system is for British Citizens married to non EU citizens. A friend of my mine that has been through the system suggested that I write about how difficult the Visa and work life is here in Turkey for expats and here is the article I promised.

Article >>> Why the Government Needs to Change the UK Visa System!


As an expat living in Turkey married or not married to a Turk working here is not a given right. Turkey has a law, one I agree with, is that a foreigner can only do a job that can not be done by a Turk. This limits the type of work which an foreigner can do in Turkey. The law also states that a Turkish company must employ 5 Turks to every 1 foreigner.

On top of this you must also apply for a Work Permit/Visa before you are allowed to work in Turkey. This though they say has been made easier to get, is the hardest Visa you will apply for in Turkey. The Work Permit/Visa is normally applied for by the company wishing to employ you.

If you do not have a work visa and are working in Turkey and get caught you will be deported and I believe that it is up to 7 years before you are allowed back into Turkey. A long time if you are married to a Turk…… Some choose to take the risk but it really isn’t worth it.

If you are married to a Turk and have been for 3 years or more or been living in Turkey for 5 years or more you can apply to become a Turkish Citizen, this gives you the same rights as any other Turkish Citizen, meaning you can work and apply for jobs that are not just for foreign workers. But there is a slight catch.

It tends to be the case that when applying for jobs such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language or any other type of job as a foreigner you get a higher wage, not always the case but in most circumstances it is.

When you become a Turkish Citizen your rate of pay then become the same rate as any other Turkish Citizen despite the fact you are a native English speaker or have a higher skill set. This can in some cases mean you loose a fair amount of your salary. So be aware if you think becoming a Turkish Citizen will save you some trouble.

Then we have the Residency Permit or Visa. This year we seen a change in the law regards the Residency Permit, and it caused all kinds of hell for those needing to apply especially at the beginning of the year, when no one knew their arse from their elbow. (sorry to be rude but that was the best way I could put it!)

I am currently preparing a detailed article on applying for the permit. Once it is ready I will post it to my facebook page.

The biggest problem was the sudden requirement to have health insurance, again in my opinion not a bad law. But which health insurance where you expected to take? SGK insurance was the minimum requirement but at the beginning some areas where refusing certain health insurance policies.

Then we have the new costs. The overall cost for SGK insurance isn’t that high when you look at it in pounds but when the average wage is around 600 lira a month having to pay for health insurance was a big issue for many. In America, there are sites you can use to compare insurance quotes, like Insurance Quotes for example, which gives you the best cover. I am not aware if there are any Turkey, so this obviously makes things more complicated and, most likely, more expensive.

Then of course you have to prove you can support yourself for every month of your residency permit. Either via a lump sum in your bank account or a regular income.

Adding that on top of the monthly Health Insurance Policy life in Turkey just got a bit more expensive.

We then see we have to pay a small amount per month basically tax for the actually residency permit.

Suddenly people where thinking they would have to pack up and leave especially those who had planned to retire here but couldn’t no longer meet the requirements.

But pretty hard for those married to a Turk who had planned to live here but not able to make the financial requirements.

Thankfully things have now calmed down and now the system is up and running its a bit better.

But the financial burden is still there, The SGK insurance is 240 tl per month or you can opt to take private health insurance and may get a better rate.

You are required to show that you can support yourself for the duration of your permit. This amount varies from $300 to $1000 depending on where you are living and the determined cost of living set for your area.

There a two ways in which you can show this amount, either a lump sum in your bank account or proof of regular income from wages or pension payments into your bank account.

Then you must pay your residency permit fees, the processing fee is 50 TL. Then for first month you pay $25 and then each additional month is $5. Totaling $80 for the year not including the processing fee.

Once you start to add up all these costs plus additional small sums of photocopying, translation and notarising paper work and pictures. The cost of the residency permit start to add up. Never mind your time and energy to get all the paper work together and stand in line to apply.

And going by the daily posts I see online for help on the various Turkish groups and forums, the headache of the new residency permit for Turkey is here to stay.

Lets hope they don’t change their minds and change the system again any time soon!

For me I am glad I went through the citizenship process and became a Turkish Citizen and have managed to avoid the new system. Though I feel terribly for all those having to go through the process.

But at least one thing Turkey doesn’t punish their Citizens for marrying non Turkish Citizens, they make it easy for those who wish to bring their foreigner partner into Turkey. 3 years isn’t long to wait to apply for citizenship and overall the process is long but not hard to do. The residency permit may be a bit tricky and is certainly starting to look costly but still easier to get and not as hard or as expensive as a settlement visa in the UK.

If you do plan to come and work in Turkey then I will agree it is probably much harder to do than in the UK, with regards to skill sets but I would say both countries are equally hard to obtain a work visa.

Overall, I still feel Turkey is the easier country when it comes to Visa’s and Permits, if you follow the guidelines and get the correct paper work together. As an UK citizen and most European and US citizens can turn up at the border gate, pay for a visit visa and walk into Turkey. You can start to build a life here and go through the various steps of Visas and Permits to do so. To access the UK its almost like getting into Fort Knoxs. It doesn’t make me feel privilege to be able to walk into any country I please with a UK passport, it makes me angry and feel a little bit dirty that we see ourselves so much better than others and yet we deny the same right to roam the world to others who wish to do so.

As always I want to here your experience of Visa’s and Permits in Turkey and getting work here. Please leave your comments below.

© 2014 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to “Living Turkey and the Visa System.”

  1. 19th November 2014

    Dorota Reply

    Looks like UK is as hard as Canada… To get a Canadian visa by a Turkish citizen married to a Canadian, is like pulling teeth with no anesthesia… Process took 2 years with no possibility of coming to Canada even as a visitor… It almost felt like being design to break people apart and make them to give up… At least Turkish system, even with its bureaucracy, is easier and friendlier than ridiculous paragraphs here…

    • 22nd November 2014

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      I can’t agree more with you Dorota, it is so much easier to set up life here in Turkey than it is in places like the UK and Canada. I agree you just feel like they want to break you apart just crazy.

      • 23rd November 2014

        Dorota Reply

        It’s that paranoia of thinking that everybody wants to come here only for economic reasons, and nobody believes that sometimes, people actually just love each other, and it happened that they come from different places 🙂

  2. 10th July 2015

    Jeaneth Reply

    I was wondering if you know whether I can marry in Turkey, then go back to my country of origin for a few months and then go back to Turkey to settle permanently. As I mentioned in one of your posts, I think I should marry when I visit my boyfriend soon, but I also think it’d be necessary to spend a few more months apart after tying the knot, because of work issues. I just want to know if not staying in Turkey immediately after marrying affects my chances of settling, getting a work permit, etc.
    There’s something else in your post that left me wondering: if I can’t do any job that a Turkish person can do, am I bound to settle for unemployment or a job that doesn’t match my education level? I have a BA in foreign language teaching, English and Spanish to be specific. I’d be preparing to get an international certification for ESL Teaching, to further support my BA.
    Any help or experience you can share with me will be much appreciated.
    I’ll definitely check your blog more often! It’s been very helpful.
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • 12th July 2015

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Hi Jeaneth

      Language teaching is probably one of the few things you can do. You degree is probably enough but an ESL would be helpful as well. A lot of expats teaching English and there are always jobs or private lessons you can do. Apart from that there are very few things we can do.

      You can go home, there is no issues there, you don’t need to settle here after marriage. I spent our first year of marriage in the UK.

      Good Luck Kerry

  3. 24th February 2016

    Lisa Reply

    Hi Kerry my husband is Turkish and we got married in Turkey however he also has dual nationality, does that make a diffrece when applying for residency? Also I work in mental health and was wondering about work in Turkey.
    Regards Lisa

    • 28th February 2016

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Lisa, I don’t think dual nationality will make a difference as you will just apply using his kimlik. Work is hard to get for a foreign national as any jobs must go to a Turkish citizen before a foreigner so it depends if you have skill they are looking for. Perhaps in mental health you may be able to find work. Most end up teaching English!

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