Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship for Foreign Investor
Article 12 of the Turkish Citizenship Law No. 5901 allows foreign investors to acquire Turkish citizenship in exceptional terms; with 18.09.2018 dated and 106 numbered Presidential Decree, amendatory new arrangements have been made regarding the amounts mentioned in the Article 20 of the Regulation on the Implementation of the aforementioned Law.
Within this scope, the foreign investors;
❖ who make fixed capital investment at least 500.000 US Dollars or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent amount of Turkish Lira and for whom certificate of conformity is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Technology,
❖ who purchase the immovable property at least 250.000 US Dollars or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent amount of Turkish Lira and attached annotation at land registration not to sell this property for three years and for whom a certificate of conformity is issued by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization,
❖ who employ at least 50 employees and for whom a certificate of conformity is issued by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services,
❖ who invest at least 500.000 US dollars or its equivalent in foreign currency or equivalent amount of Turkish Lira and make commitment to hold the amount of deposits for three years at banks operating in Turkey and for whom a certificate of conformity is issued by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency,
❖ who purchase public borrowing instruments at least 500.000 US Dollars or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent amount of Turkish Lira and make commitment to hold these instruments for three years and for whom certificate of conformity is issued by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance,
❖ who purchase a real estate investment fund participation share or venture capital investment fund participation amount of at least 500.000 US Dollars or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent amount of Turkish Lira and make commitment to hold these participation shares for three-years and for whom a certificate of conformity is issued by the Capital Market Board,
are able to obtain the Turkish citizenship exceptionally by the proposal of the Capital Markets Board and the decision of the Council of Ministers in case of applying with the documents stated in the Code.
The provisions of the main legislation in which the conditions and rules for the acquisition of Turkish citizenship are regulated under the Turkish Citizenship Law Numbered 5901 and dated 29/5/2009 (“Code”) with the Regulation on the Enforcement of the Turkish Citizenship Law Numbered 2010/139 and dated 11/2/2010 based on herein Code (“Regulation”), a number of revisions have been introduced on acquiring Turkish citizenship with the Amendment of the Regulation on the Enforcement of the Turkish Citizenship Law, which was published and entered into force on the Official Gazette dated 19/09/2018 and numbered 106 (“Amendment“).
The main purpose of this memorandum is to provide information on the revisions have been introduced by the Amendment in regard to acquisition of Turkish citizenship.
B. ACQUIRING TURKISH CITIZENSHIP
There are two ways to acquire Turkish citizenship, namely natural born citizenship and citizenship through naturalization as determined under the Article 5 of the Regulation and the Code.
It is possible to obtain Turkish citizenship in three ways. Pursuant to the Article 13 of the Regulation and the Article 9 of the Code, Turkish citizenship is obtained by the decision of the competent authority or by the adoption or the use of the right of option.
The exceptional acquisition of Turkish Citizenship is one of the ways of acquiring Turkish citizenship with the decision of the competent authority and it is regulated under the Article 20 of the Regulation and the Article 12 of the Code. Under the scope of Article 12 of the relevant Code, provided that there is no obstacle in terms of national security and public order, as to exceptional cases in the acquisition of Turkish citizenship with the proposal of the Ministry and the decision of the Council of Ministers;
“The Foreigners who bring industrial facilities to Turkey or who are thought to provide extraordinary service in scientific, technological, economic, social, sports, cultural and artistic fields and related to whom the relevant ministries bring forward a reasoned offer” are able to obtain Turkish Citizenship.
In addition to the above regulation, with the amendment to the Article 20 of the Amendment, the foreigner meeting any of the following conditions is given a chance to obtain Turkish Citizenship with the proposal of the Ministry and the decision of the Council of Ministers pursuant to the subparagraph (b) of the first paragraph of the Article 12 of the Code.
According to this;
1. Made of Fixed Capital Investment
Under the Regulation, the foreigners determined by the Ministry of Industry and Technology that have invested into a fixed capital at least in the amount of USD 500.000,00 may exceptionally acquire Turkish citizenship. Fixed capital investment means investment on the non-current assets and is an investment made to produce durable goods that can be used for a long time in the production such as building, machinery. In this context, fixed capital investment might be divided into two groups. In that, while the first group is constituted by construction investments such as construction, facility and restoration, machine and equipment investments establish the second group. Land arrangement, maintenance-repairing, approval works are given as examples of construction investments. The buildings of factory, long-lived production devices, vehicles used on production, ships and airplanes are given as examples of equipment capital investment.
2. Purchase of Immovable Property
The foreigner determined by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization that has purchased a property in the amount of USD 250.000,00 at least provided that an annotation stating that it will not be sold for 3 years is issued to the title deed may exceptionally acquire Turkish citizenship.
2.1. General Method of Application
The foreigner (“Applicant”) can purchase 1 property or more than 1 property for 250.000,00 USD. In case the applicant purchases more than 1 property, the value of the properties shall be equal to 250.000,00 USD. In order to prove the stated amount, the applicant shall receive an evaluation report from a certified evaluation company. It should be noted that such evaluation company must have certification from Capital Markets Board. In addition to this; the annotation stating that the property will not be sold for 3 years must be added to the title deed simultaneously when receiving the title deed.
2.2. For exceptional acquisition of Turkish citizenship, below mentioned order should be followed:
2.2.1. Selection of the property
2.2.2. Issuance of the evaluation report from a certified evaluation company
2.2.3. Making an examination on the property to find out whether the army permission of such property is ready. If it is not ready, the army permission can be obtained in 2 months period.
2.2.4. Purchasing real estate(s) in the amount of 250.000,00 USD
2.2.5. Issuance of the annotation stating that the property shall not be sold for three (3) years after the purchase
2.2.6. Making an application at the Immigration Authority
2.2.7. Making an application to the Istanbul Development Agency
2.2.8. Making an application to the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality with the documents mentioned below;
2.3. In order to make the citizenship application, below mentioned documents are required;
2.3.1. Certificate of Residence (to be apostilled abroad - Client)
2.3.2. Investment Certificate of Obligation from the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization (taken following the evaluation of the property by a certified company)
2.3.3. Photocopy of passport (notarized and translated in Turkey- Our Law Firm)
2.3.4. 20 pieces of a 50x60 mm white background, without the pattern, and the machine readable biometric photo
2.3.5. Health insurance (to be issued in Turkey – Our Law Firm)
2.3.6. Criminal record taken from the national authorities and the Turkish authorities. (national authority must be approved by Turkish consulate – Client-, Turkish authority does not need notarization – Our Law Firm)
2.3.7. The certificate of civil status and the marriage certificate if married, if divorced - divorce certificate, if widow - the death certificate belonging to the spouse. (must be approved by Turkish Consulate - Client)
2.3.8. Certificate of birth (must be approved by Turkish Consulate - Client)
2.3.9. Population register copy proving the family tie of the spouse and children if married. (must be approved by Turkish Consulate - Client)
2.3.10. The receipt showing that the service fee has been deposited to the Ministry of Finance. (Our Law Firm)
2.3.11. If there is a child who is in the custody of the mother or father and is asked to win Turkish citizenship together with him / her, consent of the other parent taken before the notary public or the authorized officer inside Turkey or if abroad consent to be taken at the Turkish consulate or competent authority of such country. (Client)
2.3.12. Power of attorney – Our Law Firm will prepare the draft but Client will get both notarization and apostil)
2.4. Please be noted that; the amount to be paid when purchasing the property must be paid by bank transfer and bank receipt shall be submitted to the authorities.
3. Providing Employment
The foreigners determined by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services that they have provided employment opportunity for at least 50 employees may exceptionally acquire Turkish citizenship. Employment means that the labor power in a country has jobs uninterruptedly to contribute the economy, all the factors constituted the labor power in a country are brought into working life actively, and thus, recovery and economic development is maintained.
4. Investment in the Banks Operating in Turkey
Moreover, the foreigners determined by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency that have deposited cash at least in the amount of USD 500.000,00 to the banks operating in Turkey on the condition to keep for 3 years may exceptionally acquire Turkish citizenship.
5. Purchase of Government Debt Instruments
Finally, the foreigners determined by Capital Markets Board that have purchased government debt instruments at least in the amount of USD 500.000,00 on the condition to keep for 3 years may exceptionally acquire Turkish citizenship. Government debt instrument is a tool that government issues through certain institutions on the purpose of obtaining additional income and offered to investors. The reliability and the liquidity of them are high and their risk is low. Thus, it is distinguished as the most preferred debt instrument by the investors. In the determination of monetary values stated above, the effective selling rate of the Central Bank of Turkey at the date of determination shall be taken as basis, the foreigner who wants to obtain Turkish citizenship, shall acquire Turkish citizenship with the proposal of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance and the decision of the Council of Ministers.
A file consisting of the documents specified by the application authorities upon the written instructions of the Ministry regarding such foreigners is prepared. The stated documents are below:
As explained above, the Amendment extends the scope of the acquisition of Turkish citizenship; a step is taken for foreign investors in the context of investing in Turkey and consequently acquiring citizenship. Thus, the foreigners who invests into fixed capital at least USD 500.000,00 who purchase the immovable property at least in the amount of USD 250.000,00 provided that an annotation stating that it is not to be sold for three years, who provide employment opportunity for at least 50 employees, who deposit cash at least in the amount of USD 500.000,00 to the banks operating in Turkey providing keeping for 3 years are able to obtain the Turkish citizenship exceptionally by the proposal of the Capital Markets Board and the decision of the Council of Ministers in case of applying with the documents stated in the Code.
E. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. If I have previously purchased a property worth USD 1.000.000, do I still have to purchase another property worth USD 250.000?
In case the property in the amount of 1.000.000 USD is purchased before the new legislation which is September 19, 2018, the applicant may place the aforementioned annotation (the restriction to not to sell the property for 3 years) and directly apply for the citizenship. In other words; the applicant does not have to purchase another property in case he owns a property worth 1.000.000 USD.
2. Is one Title Deed for multiple families is possible?
For example; if there are two families and the value of one property is 500.000 USD, both families may apply depending on such one property as long as both of the names of the main applicants are written on the title deed of such property.
3. Can I buy more than one property and apply for citizenship?
Yes, you can buy more than one property provided that their total value is USD 250.000.
4. Can Syrians not living in Turkey apply for citizenship?
Yes, they can apply for citizenship. However they cannot apply via purchasing property since Syrians are not allowed to purchase property in Turkey. But they can apply by depositing USD 500.000 or buying governmental bonds in the amount of USD 500.000 or any other methods stated in this memorandum.
5. Can Syrians that came to Turkey under “Temporary Acceptance” apply for citizenship?
Yes, they can also apply for citizenship but they cannot use the method of purchasing property depending on the aforementioned reason. 7/10
6. Can Syrians residing in Turkey and holding a second nationality of other countries apply for citizenship?
Yes, they can apply depending on their second nationality and if they do they can use the method of purchasing property since they will not be regarded as Syrians once they apply on their second nationality.
7. How much are the translation and notarization charges?
Depending on the number of the family members, the charges are around TRY 2.000 – 5.000 for a family of four.
8. Does my application cover my family as well?
Yes, your wife and children under 18 or your dependent children over 18 can apply with the main applicant.
If you desire, the family of the main applicant can apply after the main applicant becomes a Turkish citizen.
9. Can the main applicant apply for children from previous marriage of the spouse?
The children of the spouse under 18 may be included to the main applicant’s application process provided that the consent of the biological parent is received.
10. Can the main applicant apply for his handicapped children above 18?
Yes, since handicapped children over 18 are considered as dependent children to parents, they are also included to the main applicant’s application.
11. If my children are under 18 when making the application and they become over 18 when the application is finalized, can they still apply under the main applicant’s file?
Yes, they can apply under the main applicant’s file.
12. Is there a fast track option when making the application?
Unfortunately there is no fast track option as of now. But we will do anything to expedite the process.
13. I have previously obtained a residence permit. Can I use such permit when making the application?
Since the law is new, we will try to use your previous residence permit, however the immigration authority may require such permit to be retaken.
14. Do I have to come to Turkey for the application process or can you handle everything by power of attorney?
We can handle almost everything by power of attorney. The main applicant has to come to Turkey only once.
15. If I choose the method depositing USD 500.000 to the bank, do I have to deposit it after the promulgation of the new law which is September 19, 2018?
Yes, you have to deposit such amount to the bank at a date after September 19, 2018. However if you have deposited such amount before September 19, 2018, you can withdraw your money and deposit it again. But in this case, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (“BRSA”) has to give their consent to such transaction.
16. Can I have interest on top of my money for the following 3 years since I will not be able to move such money for 3 years?
Yes, you can have interest or you can have contribution to your money for 3 years.
17. Can the lawyer act on my behalf and purchase the property?
Yes, we can act on your behalf and purchase the property depending on the power of attorney.
18. Can I vote after I become a Turkish citizen?
Yes, you can vote and you can use any other right like other Turkish citizens.
19. After I become Turkish citizen, can I purchase property without any restriction?
Yes, you can purchase property without any restriction.
20. I have previously applied for Turkish citizenship and my application is denied. Can I apply again depending on the new law?
Yes, if you meet the requirements stated above, you can apply again.
21. How long does the application process take?
It takes approximately 6 months however due to number of application files; such duration may be shortened or extended. 9/10
22. What mechanism can I use that I can negotiate with developers to obtain a refund of the property (undo the transaction) if the Citizenship is rejected? What would it take?
Unfortunately there is no way to negotiate with the developers however you may conclude an agreement with the developer stating that the money shall be refunded in case the citizenship application is denied. However it is not certain that every developer will agree with that.
23. Can the property be off-plan? What are the criteria if I select such property? Are there any restrictions?
Yes, the property can be off-plan as long as the purchasing price of the property –minimum USD 250.000- is written on the title deed. Please note that; there is no restriction and please also note that the applicant may even purchase land that is considered as “field” and the applicant may apply for citizenship accordingly.
24. Are all application fees included in your fees? What are the Government charges for Due Diligence and/or processing fees?
No, the fee is only for services to be rendered. In other words, our fee is excluded from any charge, fee etc.
As previously explained, the following order is advised to be followed and please see the fee and charge estimation underlined;
(I) The property is selected by the client. Such property value shall be over USD 250.000.
(II) The applicant should check whether there is army permission on the property. If not, receiving the army permission takes around 2 months.
(III) An expert report is issued by a certified valuation company.
(IV) The property transfer is completed at the title registry with the condition that the amount of USD 250.000 is written in the deed. There is 3% title deed transfer fee which calculated over the full purchase price.
(V) Once the transfer is completed, the application process begins. Since the law is very recent, the application fees are not precisely determined however it will not exceed 5.000 TRY
25. Is it a way – as it happens in Cyprus – that I do not complete on the purchase of the property until I obtain the citizenship and the developer keeps the funds in Escrow until I obtain the citizenship?
Please note that; there is no escrow system in Turkish law. Therefore, the applicant and/or the developer cannot keep the funds in an escrow account. Please be noted that; the title deed transfer shall be completed first in order to apply for citizenship.
26. Where the Criminal Record should be obtained from (country of citizenship or country of residency?)
It should be obtained from the country of citizenship.
27. Which bank do you suggest that I should work with?
We have very close relationship with Albaraka Turk bank and Kuveyt Turk bank since they operate on Islamic rules. Accordingly we suggest that you work with such banks or any other bank that operates on Islamic rules.
This article was written by by Attorney at Law Burçin Barlas.
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