Changes to residence-permit processing causing delays, difficulties

21 May 15

TURKEY

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? Residence permit applications are now being processed by civil authorities at the Migration Directorate rather than by local police officers.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals applying for residence permits are now required to prepare their applications online with the new Migration Directorate, and initial filers should schedule their appointments using this new online system. Most applicants will likely experience difficulties in obtaining appointments for initial residence permits for some time. Note that renewal of residence permits of the same category is also done online, but the applications are couriered and an in-person filing is no longer required.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: All residence permits, including renewals.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for residence permits, including renewals of residence permits.
  • Impact on processing times: Istanbul appointments for most initial residence permit categories are likely to be more backlogged. Adjudication time once filed should remain the same.
  • Next steps: Foreign nationals must apply for initial residence permit filing appointments via the new online system. Renewals are uploaded to the online system, but appointments for them are no longer required.

Background: Until recently, residence permit applications were processed by Interior Ministry police officers. However, Turkey is still in the transition phase of a major immigration overhaul and residence permits are now being processed by the civilian Migration Directorate. Applicants must submit applications according to instructions on the Migration Directorate’s website, and initial applicants will need to appear in person for a filing appointment at the applicable Migration Directorate office.

Foreign nationals who had existing appointment dates will have to reschedule their appointments. All appointments scheduled (Vatan and local offices) before May 18 must now be rebooked in the new system. There is no preference for having had a prior appointment. Initial resident permit filings must be booked by logging in an application form, which must be brought to the appointment together with support documents.

Appointment booking for an initial filing is now significantly more difficult. New information is required on the appointment application, including education of dependent, specifics of medical insurance policy with expiration dates, and registered residential address in Turkey. If information is missing, appointments cannot be booked. For now, once an appointment is booked, it is not clear how it can be canceled for a rebooking. Early this week, according to Maria Celebi, a partner at Bener Law Office in Istanbul, the online system crashed several times and appointments were only open in mid-July.

“We should see a growing backlog in the appointment system in Istanbul, as now many local offices which previously adjudicated residence permits are now consolidated into one office,” Celebi said “It is also not clear if the new civil officers will retain the same policy toward supporting documents as the police had previously.”

Foreign assignees whose residence permits have expired in most cases will require new initial appointments. However, if the residence permit is still valid, the assignee does not need an appointment. The renewal application is lodged within 60 days before expiration, printed out for the applicant to sign, and then sent to the Migration Directorate within 30 days. This must be done prior to expiration.

As reported earlier this year, dependent applications for residence permits must be accompanied by police clearance from the applicant’s country of origin and any countries in which the applicant has lived in the past five years.

BAL Analysis:
Residence permit applicants face significant difficulties in navigating the online appointment system and obtaining required appointments for residence permits. BAL anticipates that the Turkish authorities will provide further guidance in coming weeks on how best to obtain residence permit appointments and maintain legal status in-country.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Turkey. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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