Investment, marriage, work: Ways to acquire Turkish citizenship
If you have lived in Turkey for several years and have grown tired of all the residence appointments, work permits, and visas, or if you are seeking to gain a new nationality for the future of your business or family, acquiring Turkish citizenship may be a good move.
The general rule of thumb is that as long as you are over the age of 18, are of sound mind and physical health, and have lived in Turkey continuously for 5 years with no more than a 6-month interruption in total, you can apply to become a Turkish national.
According to Turkish Law 5901 on Turkish Citizenship, you can acquire Turkish citizenship in 2 ways: by birth or after birth.
What do I need to make my application?
To apply for Turkish citizenship, you’ll need the following documents:
- Your passport and its translated photocopy
- 4 biometric photos
- Certificates proving you are mentally and physically in good health
- Documents evidencing your relationship with your spouse and children (marriage license, birth certificates, etc.)
After making your application at the town or city hall, you will be provided with application forms to fill out. Then you will be interviewed by a Turkish official to evaluate your language ability. And after having submitted all documents and paying the application fee, your submission will be forwarded to the Interior Ministry for review.
The ways to acquire Turkish citizenship can be divided into several categories:
Apart from being mentally sound and having the power and capacity to make their own decisions, to get Turkish citizenship a foreign national:
- Must have resided in Turkey uninterruptedly for 5 years before the date of application for citizenship, with no more than 12 months of this period spent outside Turkey,
- Must communicate sincere intent to settle in Turkey and show evidence such as buying real estate for a home or business purposes, make investments, seek to compete for your education here or get married to a Turk, etc.,
- Must not have a disease that threatens public health,
- Must be a person of good morals and not engage in behavior that contradicts societal values,
- Must be able to speak and understand Turkish at a level deemed sufficient to adapt to the local social life,
- Must have income or a profession to ensure their own or their dependants’ livelihoods,
- Must not be in a position that jeopardizes national security and public order (e.g., membership of a terrorist organization)
Citizenship is also granted for exceptional cases, such as establishing industrial plants in Turkey or having provided extraordinary service in the fields of social services, sports, science, technology, or arts, or having the intention of providing such services with proposals drawn up to be submitted to the relevant ministries.
Warning: You may be required to relinquish your previous citizenship if your country of birth/first nationality does not accept dual citizenship.
Option 1: Property
- The most widely known and arguably easiest out of all the financial options is buying commercial or residential property worth at least $400,000.
After you purchase of said property, you are rewarded with temporary residency.
If you do not sell it or let it for rental income for three years, you are granted Turkish citizenship at the end of this period. You are free to sell or let after 3 years are up.
You are not limited to buying a single property either. As a foreigner, you have the right to invest in multiple properties.
If you have a spouse or children under 18, they will also get citizenship.
- Suppose you own an immovable property of any value for 5 years, on condition that the title-deed aka “tapu” is in your name for that period. In that case, you could also apply for citizenship.
You can do so by obtaining a touristic residence permit for real estate ownership purposes for 2 years and annually extending this period for another 3 years.
Option 2: Cash Deposits and Fixed Capital Investment
If you have deposited a minimum of $500,000 or the equivalent amount in any other foreign currency or Turkish Liras to a Turkish bank that operates inside the country (and not its branch abroad) and promises to keep this amount intact for at least 3 years. In that case, you will improve the quality for citizenship.
You are not required to have that amount in one bank or one account, it can be scattered across several banks, as long as you keep it deposited in those banks for 3 years and the total equals $500,000.
If you have invested at least $500,000 in state investment instruments or venture capital funds and do not withdraw that amount for 3 years, you also qualify for citizenship.
Option 3: Generating Employment
Contribution to the Turkish job market and the labor economy is another way of acquiring citizenship. If, as an employer/company, you legally employ 50 people in Turkey, you qualify for Turkish citizenship.
3.1. By Employment
After you have been employed for 5 years in Turkey (with a foreign worker permit) and plan on continuing to work here with continued social security and pension benefits to be provided by your employer, you can apply for citizenship.
Long gone are the days when foreigners automatically acquired Turkish citizenship after marriage. Nowadays, a foreigner must be married to a Turkish citizen for at least 3 years and meet various conditions before applying for citizenship.
- Must be living together as a family unit,
- Must not engage in any behavior or activity that endangers or goes against the union or marriage
- Must not pose a threat to national security or public order.
If the Turkish spouse dies after the application has been made, the condition of living as a family unity is not required.
What about children?
If you and your spouse are foreigners and have a child while in Turkey, they will not automatically get Turkish citizenship as nationality is based upon descent.
However, if, as parents, you acquire Turkish citizenship together later, your child will also be granted citizenship.
Children adopted by Turkish citizens are also granted citizenship as of the date of adoption.
LONG TERM RESIDENCY
If you do not want to acquire citizenship but would like indefinite leave to remain without extending your residence permits, you can also apply for long-term residency. If you have stayed in Turkey continuously for 8 years as a legal and duly resident, then you have the right to apply for a long-term permit that will be issued indefinitely.
If you want to learn more about getting or renewing residence permits, read this post.