Turkey: all about tourism, humanitarian residence permit and international protection
Turkey is among the top 10 countries for the reception of Ukrainian refugees. And no wonder, because this country has always been close to our citizens, many Ukrainians have expat relatives, friends, acquaintances. Many Turks speak Russian, especially on the south coast, so it is easier for Ukrainians to communicate with Turks than with locals in other countries.
However, since Turkey is not a member of the EU and does not grant Ukrainians temporary protection status, it is difficult for refugees from our country to understand the statuses and rights that our citizens can obtain in Turkey for legal residence.
Information on the protection of Ukrainians in Turkey is also very confusing. To understand how the shelter system works in Turkey for Ukrainians, we spoke with Anna Balanovich Er, a real estate specialist at the Turkish company Look-O-More. Anna directly advises clients on obtaining residence permits in Turkey and helps our citizens now navigate in the new country.
📍 Disclaimer: Anna's experience and our joint advice are based not only on the law, but also on Anna's communication with our citizens who have already contacted the Turkish Migration Service in this situation. Therefore, below we describe how everything works in practice now and urge you to clarify the information directly at the Turkish Migration Service (Göç İdaresi).
☎️ Migration Service Hotline: 157 from the Turkish number (there are Russian-speaking operators).
Thus, currently Ukrainians who left for Turkey in connection with the war can receive three types of status: tourist residence permit, humanitarian residence permit and international protection status.
What does each of these statuses mean?
1️⃣ Tourist residence permit (Kısa dönem ikamet izni)
This is the most common and understandable format of a long-term stay in Turkey. Let us remind that Ukrainians can stay in Turkey for up to 90 days under the visa-free regime. For those who plan to stay longer, the Turkish Migration Service issues tourist residence permits for up to 1 year, but for Ukrainians they have started issuing even for 2 years.
In addition to the residence permit for up to 2 years, the tourist certificate entitles to:
📌 insurance treatment at local hospitals (insurance purchased separately)
📌 opportunity to buy a car and get a local driver's license
📌 take out a loan and mortgage
📌 teach a child in a public school
📌 learn English and / or Turkish for free
📌 open a business
❌ Tourist certificate does not provide a permit for employment and work. Employment permit is issued separately, a specific employer will have to submit your documents to the Ministry of Labor
The following documents are submitted for registration of the tourist certificate:
📎 mandatory biometric passport (if you do not have one - you can issue a new or extend the old biometric at the Embassy / Consulate of Ukraine);
📎 child's birth certificate (if any), translated and apostilled
📎 housing lease, notarized. Anna advises to include in the lease agreement all family members who will live in the apartment - this will make it easier to obtain a certificate for them. If one of the spouses is not included in the lease agreement at the time of its conclusion, a marriage certificate translated into Turkish and apostille shall be submitted to the agreement.
If you plan to stay with relatives, friends - you can also certify your apartment with a surety document, where the owners of your residence will confirm your whereabouts.
📎 biometric photos
📎 certificate of payment of tax for the permit
📎 can additionally request a certificate of registration of one of the utilities - gas, electricity, etc.
📎 completed application form on the website of the Migration Service https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr/. After filling in, you will receive an appointment (rendezvous) at the Migration Service .
The tourist permit does not restrict you in moving around the country, you can leave Turkey and return without hindrance. However, if your application for a permit is still under consideration and you want to leave Turkey - inform the Migration Service (you can do so even at the airport) so that the service understands that you will return and the issuance of a certificate is relevant for you. Also keep in mind that issuing a tourist permit for one person will cost you from 1000 lira (approximately 2 thousand UAH)
✅ For whom a tourist residence permit is suitable?
- you plan to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days
- you want to travel freely around the country and abroad
- you have a stable income or savings, you do not want to apply for a separate work permit
🚫 Who is not suitable for a tourist residence permit?
- you plan to get a job
- you can't afford to pay for paperwork
- you do not have funds for health insurance and want to be treated at the expense of the state
- you do not have a biometric passport (but now the Consulate General in Istanbul has resumed the issuance of biometric passports, and the Turkish side has promised not to charge fines for delays in visa-free travel. That is, if your visa-free stay is coming to an end, you shouldn't worry and can wait until the passport is ready and apply for a tourist permit after that )
2️⃣ Humanitarian residence permit (insani oturma izni)
The humanitarian residence permit is in fact analogous to a tourist one, is issued for one year. However, it is issued when, for some reason, you lack the full package of documents to obtain a tourist permit
- if a mother left with a child, and the consent of the father on taking the child abroad hasn't been issued. This consent is required to obtain a tourist permit, and, accordingly, if this document is not available - children are issued a humanitarian permit. Mother can get either a tourist or a humanitarian permit. For children, the cost of the permit is reduced by 50%.
- citizens who do not have valid foreign biometric passports and want to get an analogue of a tourist permit in terms of rights and conditions
- humanitarian permit also provides for the presence of residence. But whereas, for example, you won't be issued a tourist permit without a lease agreement or guarantee of another housing, you will be issued a humanitarian certificate. For example, you live in a hotel with which you cannot have any lease agreement - you cannot apply for a tourist card, but you can apply for a humanitarian one.
The humanitarian certificate also requires a health insurance. You can also move freely within Turkey and travel abroad. And as in the case of tourist permit, the humanitarian permit does not provide for a right to work - for employment a separate work permit must be issued. For registration, you can apply directly to the office of the Migration Service without an electronic appointment.
3️⃣ International protection (refugee status) (Ulusrarasi koruma)
Currently, Turkey gives our citizens one of the subtypes of international protection - secondary protection. In fact, this is the so-called refugee status. This permit is issued for a renewable year and, most importantly, 6 months after applying for the status, you will be able to work without the need for additional work permits. Another nice bonus is that the registration of secondary protection is free.
To obtain secondary protection, you can come to the local branch of the migration service without prior registration - there is a separate Ulusrarasi koruma counter, there are also English-speaking or Russian-speaking staff.
You need to have:
📎 valid foreign passport or other identity document, together with a document on crossing the Turkish border (issued at the border to citizens without a biometric passport)
📎 two biometric photos from each family member.
📎 application. You need to write a handwritten statement with a detailed explanation of why you are applying for international protection status. This statement must contain the following information:
- who is the applicant (individual, family members, if the application is from a family).
- in what city did you live and why did you leave this city
- when did you leave Ukraine
- when and how you entered Turkey
The application must also clearly state that you are requesting international protection status. The application can be written in Turkish, English, Russian. The fastest result will give a statement in Turkish.
📎 confirmation of residence address. Such a supporting document may be:
- rental agreement.
- letter from the hotel if you stay at the hotel.
- If you live with someone, the owner of the apartment must personally confirm this fact and with his permission you will be registered in the system at this address. If the person you live with rents a home, they must bring a rental agreement and you will be registered in the system at this address with the permission of the current owner.
📍 If you have a disability, serious chronic illness or medical condition that requires immediate medical intervention / treatment, you are a victim of trafficking, be sure to mention this, as it is a reason to speed up the decision-making process.
After the interview, you will be issued an "Applicant's Certificate of International Protection Status", which will give you permission to stay and exercise your rights until the final status of secondary protection is granted. The final status will be granted approximately 6 months after the submission of the documents. More about the procedure for granting international protection is described in detail here.
What rights does this status provide?
📌 legal stay for 1 year
📌 the right to work 6 months after receiving the applicant's certificate
📌 free state health insurance
📌 education in public schools
📌 housing assistance if you have nowhere to live
📌 opening bank accounts
❌ However, keep in mind that this status will restrict you from moving around and leaving the country. You will be required to stay within the province in which you have applied for international protection. Departure from the province is possible with the permission of the migration service. Leaving Turkey before final status is given (the first 6 months after submitting the documents) will invalidate international protection to you. The status also provides for periodic monitoring by the migration service - once every two weeks you will have to show up there.
✅ For whom international protection status is suitable?
- you plan to wait for end of the war in Turkey and do not plan to leave it in the next 6 months
- you are in a difficult situation, and you need housing
- it is important for you to use free medicine
- you want to work (in 6 months)
🚫 For whom international protection status is not suitable?
- you plan to travel to other countries and / or receive protection there
- you want to travel often in Turkey
- you are married to a Turkish citizen
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The simultaneous stay of visitors in the hotel lobby not more than one person per 10 square meters of serviceable area is allowed.
Persons can visit hotels and stay there (outside hotel room) only if they wear respirator or face mask (including homemade mask), so that the nose and mouth are covered.
Hotel guests are obliged to keep the 1.5 meters distance.
Online check-in making in advance is recommended to avoid queues at check-in to hotel.
Meals in hotels are provided through meals delivery service to rooms upon prior order or at hotel restaurants situated inside or in open areas, provided the distance of at least 1.5 meters between seats at adjacent tables.
Not more than 4 clients are allowed to stay at the table (excluding children under 14 years old). Unless these tables are separated by a special partition;
Self-serve is not allowed.