If you are thinking of studying in Turkey as an international student, keep reading to find out about the visa process, what documents you will need, and more.
According to Turkish law, all international students need to obtain a student visa before coming to Turkey to study/do their internship.
The only students exempt from this visa requirement are:
- Students from the Northern Republic of Cyprus
- Students whose parents live in Turkey with a work visa and residence permit
- Blue Cardholders
- International students who want to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in Turkey after completing their secondary or higher education in Turkey
Types of Study Visas in Turkey
Internship (e.g., Erasmus and AISEC), course, exchange program, and in-service training visas are usually issued for up to 90 days. There are also visas for Turkish language courses (up to 11 months) or general student visas for university degrees (more than 6 months).
Note: There will be a distinction between visas for studying in Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
When applying for a residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 60 days longer than the period you are using for.
Turkish Student Visa Requirements to Study in Turkey
Before you apply for a visa, you will need proof that you have been accepted into Turkey's educational/academic program. For that, you will need a letter of acceptance, and you may also be asked to present previous diplomas, certificates, or transcripts.
Visa officials will also want financial proof that you will support yourself as a student in Turkey.
How to Apply for a Student Visa in Turkey
You can apply for a student visa between 30 and 60 days before you arrive in Turkey.
You first need to start your online application to get a date for an appointment at a Turkish diplomatic mission in your home country, such as the Turkish Embassy or consulate. You can also apply via a third-party visa application service provider, who will collect the documents and lodge the application on your behalf.
After you complete your online application, you will receive an appointment date for your visa interview.
With you, you should bring:
- Turkish student visa application form
- Your passport
- Biometric photographs
- Proof of booked flight tickets
- Travel insurance for your entire stay in Turkey
- Health insurance
- Letter of acceptance (Make sure the letter details the duration of your stay.)
- Receipt/proof of paid fees for the educational program you will enroll in (if applicable)
- Proof of financial resources (This could be bank statements, a letter of scholarship or bursary, letter of sponsorship from a company or your parents)
- Visa processing fee
A visa application is usually processed between 3 and 15 days.
A note about visas for postgraduate students and scientific researchers
If you want to work, study, or conduct academic or scientific research in Turkey, you will have to obtain a visa for that specific purpose at the Turkish Embassy or consulate in your country before you arrive in Turkey.
What to Do after You Arrive in Turkey
You cannot obtain a student visa after you arrive. To stay in Turkey beyond the 90-day limit, you will need to apply for a residence permit at the Provincial Directorate of Migration Administration in the city your academic program is in.
After you have arrived in Turkey, you should apply for your residence permit within 30 days.
The documents you will need:
- Passport and student visa
- Residence permit application form
- Tax ID (obtained from the tax office)
- Four passport-sized photos
- Passport and photocopies of pages with your name, visa, and last entry date stamps
- Student enrolment certificate (öğrenci belgesi)
- Financial proof to cover your living and studying costs (Bank statement, scholarship, letter of undertaking, etc.)
- Proof of accommodation (Dorm or flat rental contract, letter of invitation if staying with family, etc.)
Mandatory Registering with the Authorities
Upon your arrival in Turkey, you need to register at the nearest local police department in your city as soon as possible. It is a requirement whether you are on a student or worker visa.
You will then apply for a residence permit, aka ikamet, at the Provincial Directorate of Migration Administration in the city you're located in.
Right to a Residence in Turkey as a Student
Foreign nationals who will stay longer than the visa exemption period or 90 days have to obtain a residence permit. The same goes for students. If you enrolled in an academic program in Turkey for 3 months or longer, you would have to apply for a student residence permit, which gives you the right to stay in Turkey during your study period.
Having a student visa or student residence permit does not grant your parents, spouse, or kids residency.
Rules for Working on a Study Visa in Turkey
You cannot work in Turkey on a student visa if enrolled in a bachelor's degree program (lisans - 4 years) or associate degree (ön lisans - 2 years). However, if you are over 18 and are a master's or doctorate student, you can work while pursuing your degree.
If you came to Turkey on a student exchange program and have an internship as part of it, you do not need to obtain a work permit. Whether paid or unpaid, you only need a residence permit to do the internship.
However, suppose you came to Turkey as a student and did an optional internship to gain professional experience or sustain yourself financially. In that case, you will have to get a work permit.
Help! My Turkish Student Visa has Expired…
If you did not apply for an extension for your residence permit within 60 days of your expiry date and your visa has expired, you have 10 days to apply for a different class of permit. The most common one is people use a tourist visa.
Your residence permit is only valid for one year, but you can renew it 60 days before it expires by visiting the local authorities and completing a renewal application form.