Turkish Citizenship2021-08-22T11:10:02+00:00

Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship

Citizenship and Nationality; while two terms often used interchangeably[1], there is a clear distinction between them. Although the purpose of this chapter is not to elaborately discuss the theoretical definition of these concepts, to ease reference, it is worth to mention that citizenship as a legal status indicates various forms of relationship between individual and state, rather than broadly defining status of belonging to a state for certain purposes of international law.[2]

In principle, citizenship can be obtained by birth or after birth through naturalization. Birthright Citizenship refers to conferring nationality based on place of birth or descent. Children may acquire citizenship on their birth, that passes from their parents through bloodlines (jus sanguinis) or because they born on a state’s territory (jus soli).

In the absence of natural links between individuals and states, under certain conditions states grant foreigners with access to the citizenship through legally defined naturalization procedures.[3] These procedures mainly regulate acquisition of citizenship through non-natural ways such as marriage, adoption, or voluntary application. Conditionalities of states’ willingness to grant naturalization varies in different requirements such as length of residence in the country, language skills or country-specific knowledge.

Starting from 1869 Ottoman Citizenship law, Turkey has regulated the rules on citizenship with various legislation and relevant regulations in line with the international contextual requirements and necessities of time. Respectively, Law no 1312 on Turkish Citizenship (1928) and Law no 403 on Turkish Citizenship (1964) replaced by Law no. 5901 on Turkish Citizenship in 2009.

Core elements of Turkish Nationality mainly defined in the Turkish Constitution. Article 66 of Turkish Constitution reads that; “Everyone bound to the Turkish State through the bond of citizenship is a Turk. The child of a Turkish father or a Turkish mother is a Turk. No Turk shall be deprived of citizenship unless he/she commits an act incompatible with loyalty to the motherland.”[4]

Constitutionally, citizenship has been defined as a legal bound and once citizenship is granted, equality is secured between citizens regardless the way of acquiring citizenship, either it is obtained through naturally or through naturalization.

Law no. 5901 on Turkish Citizenship[5], in effect since June 12, 2009, is the main legislation regulates principles and procedures regarding acquisition and loss of Turkish citizenship. Subsequently, on April 6, 2010 Regulation on Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law (Hereinafter Implementing Regulation) published.[6]

Since its enactment, Law no 5901 on Turkish Citizenship has been several times amended.  Conditions and procedures, especially on exceptional naturalization institution shaped with amendments introduced by Law no 6735 on International Labor Force[7] and Law no 7039 on Amending the Law on Population Services and Certain Laws.[8] Implementing Regulation, accordingly, further adjusted with several amending regulations[9] and recently through Presidential Decree No. 106 on September 19, 2018. [10]

Obtaining Turkish Citizenship by Birth – Jus Soli / Jus Sanguinis

Turkish citizenship can be obtained by birth or after birth. [11] Articles between 6 and 8 of Turkish Citizenship Law regulates the principles regarding acquisition of Citizenship by birth. In principle Jus Sanguinis principle is recognized as the basis for acquisition of citizenship by birth. Article 7 reads that ‘a child born to a married Turkish father or mother, whether in Turkey or abroad, is Turkish citizen.’ Under article 7 a child born to a Turkish mother and a foreigner father out of wedlock is accepted as Turkish citizen. On the other hand, article 7(2) puts forward that a child born of a Turkish father and foreigner mother out of wedlock acquires Turkish citizenship if the principles and procedures regarding the determination of descent are met.

Jus Soli principle is only applicable under article 8 as if a child born in Turkey but acquiring no citizenship from his/her foreigner mother or foreigner father. As per article 8(2) a child found in Turkey is deemed to have been born in Turkey unless proven otherwise.

Obtaining Turkish Citizenship After Birth

Under Turkish law, in the absence of natural link, citizenship, after birth, can be obtained by three ways; through decision of competent authority, by adoption or by right of choice.[12]

1. Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship through Decision of Competent Authority

Through the decision of competent authority, Turkish citizenship can be acquired through four ways; naturalization, exceptional naturalization, reacquisition of Turkish citizenship, acquisition of citizenship through marriage[13]

a. General Naturalisation

Naturalisation through the decision of competent authority requires satisfaction of certain conditions set forth under article 11 of Turkish Citizenship Law. Accordingly, foreigners with at least five years of uninterrupted residence in Turkey, who are at the age of majority and capacity to act according to their national legal system (Turkish Civil Code numbered 4721 is applicable for stateless foreigners) might be eligible for Turkish citizenship upon the satisfaction of each of the following conditions.

  • have the intention of settling in Turkey and prove this intention with action,
  • not have any disease that constitutes a danger to public health,
  • be a person of good morals,
  • speak an adequate level of Turkish,
  • have an income or profession to provide for his own livelihood and those of his/her dependents in Turkey,
  • not pose a threat to national security and public order.

For the purpose of article 15 (c) of the implementing Regulation, following situations are assessed as having intention continue to live in Turkey; owning immovable property in Turkey, establishing a business, investing, transferring a trade and business center to Turkey, being employed through work permit or relevant permission, or marrying a Turkish citizen, filing application to acquire Turkish citizenship as a family, having a mother, father, brother or child who has previously acquired Turkish citizenship or having studied in Turkey.[14]

Foreigners without residence permit, or those who are staying in Turkey legally but without intention to settle in such as asylum seekers, or residence permit holders whose permits are granted for the purpose of tourism, medical treatment, studying in Turkey, accompanying children studying in Turkey or foreigners having a pending trial for any offense or convicted or imprisoned for any crime would not be considered eligible for the Turkish Citizenship.[15] 

b. Exceptional Naturalization and Jus Pecuniae: Investor Citizenship

It is for each state to decide who are their nationals.[16] States’ sovereignty over the nationality matters commonly recognized within the scope of domestic jurisdiction, however not without reservation. States’ discretionary power limited with International law, custom and norms.[17]  State discretion over the nationality issues facilitates extraordinary naturalization clauses under nationality codes of states by providing exceptional citizenship to foreign nationals on the grounds of their exceptional contributions to societies such in the terms of economy, culture, or sport.

Turkish Republic’s first Nationality Law, Turkish Citizenship Act numbered 1312 (1928) was enabling exceptional citizenship through the decision of cabinet of executive ministers.[18] Following, Turkish Citizenship Act numbered 403 (1964) has further clarified in a more comprehensive way, the discretion of Council of Ministers in granting exceptional citizenship.[19] Foreigners based on value of their input in Turkey within the economic or social context or in the fields of science, technology or art, through the decision of the Council of Ministers, without considering five years legal residence in country requirement set forth for general naturalization applications has been considered eligible for exceptional citizenship. [20]

Boundaries of the discretionary power of executive in grating citizenship exceptionally reviewed under Law no 5901 on Turkish Citizenship (2009). Especially with the additions to the article 12 of Law no 5901 through the amendments introduced in 2016 by Law no 6735 on International Labor Force, exceptional ways of acquisition of Turkish citizenship started to cover a procedurally defined Citizenship by Investment clause as well.

Under its current regime, upon presidential decision, Turkish citizenship can be obtained exceptionally. Exceptionally, as per article 12, if there is no obstacle in terms of national security and public order[21], following four categories of foreigners can be granted Turkish Citizenship.

  • Those persons who bring into Turkey industrial facilities or have rendered or believed to render an outstanding service in the social or economic arena or in the fields of science, technology, sports, culture or arts and regarding whom a reasoned offer is made by the relevant ministries.
  • Those residence permit holders explained under article 31 (j) of Law no 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection[22] and those turquoise card holders and their foreign spouses, their minor or dependent foreign children.
  • Those whose being received into citizenship is deemed to be necessary.
  • Those persons who recognized as migrants.

Discretionary power of Competent Authority in the application of article 12 is relatively more when considering previous versions of Turkish Citizenship Act. [23] Turkish Citizenship through the application of suitable provisions of Article 12, can be acquired by the proposal of Ministry of Interior, with the presidential approval.[24]  For the purpose of Turkish Citizenship Act, “migrant” refers to those persons, as prescribed under Law no 5543 on Habitation, who belongs to Turkish ancestry and Turkish culture who arrived in Turkey with the intention to settle in.[25]

As per article 31(j) of Law on Foreigners and International Protection, under certain circumstances short-term residence permit can be issued for those foreigners who does not work in Turkey but will make an investment within the scope and amount that shall be determined by the President, and for their foreign spouses, his and her minor children or foreign dependent children.[26]

Both provisions, article 12 (1) (b) of Turkish Citizenship Law and article 31(j) of Law on Foreigners and International Protection, which have been introduced by article 27 of the Law no 6735 on International Labor Force provides main pillars of Jus Pecuniae in Turkey.

As stipulated under article 12 (1) (b), a foreigner to be qualified for “Investor Citizenship” either should be considered as residence permit holder in accordance with article 31(j) of Law on Foreigners and International Protection or should be a turquoise card holder as defined under Law no 6735 on International Labor Force.

Following the significant changes in the law, on 12 Dec 2016, through the Council of Ministers decision on the amendment in the Implementing Regulation, a new subparagraph added under article 20 of the implementing regulation[27], to outline the conditions for obtaining citizenship through investment.  With the introduction of article 20 (2), investment types and thresholds for Investment-based Turkish Citizenship has been clarified.  Upon recent modification of the pre-determined investment threshold through Presidential Decree No. 106 which was published on 19 September 2018, following criteria is currently represents investment thresholds for the implementation of article 12 (1) (b).

  1. Proven by the Ministry of Industry and Technology to have made a minimum fixed capital investment of USD 500,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira.
  2. Proven by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization to have acquired a real estate worth a minimum of USD 250,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira with a title deed restriction on its resale for at least three years.[28]
  3. Proven by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services to have created jobs for at least 50 people.
  4. Proven by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency to have deposited at least USD 500,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira in banks operating in Turkey with the condition of not to withdraw for at least three years.
  5. Proven by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance to have bought at least USD 500,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira worth of government bonds with the condition that they cannot be sold for at least three years.
  6. Proven by the Capital Markets Board of Turkey to have bought at least USD 500,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira worth of real estate investment fund share or venture capital investment fund share with the condition that they cannot be sold for at least three years.[29]

To initiate citizenship by investment application, foreigners who are fulfilling one of the required investment conditions described under the article 20 of the Implementing Regulation, obtain “Certificate of Conformity” from the relevant authorities and apply to short-term residence permit in pursuant to Article 31/1-j of the Law No. 6458.  Then, once the citizenship by investment application is duly submitted to Directorate General of Civil Registry and Citizenship Affairs for evaluation and after completion of necessary investigation conducted by Directorate General of Police with respect to national security and public order, application is submitted to the approval of the President.

c. Reacquisition of Turkish citizenship

If not posing an obstacle with respect to national security[30], Turkish citizenship can be reacquired through the decision of competent authority.  As per article 13 of the Turkish Citizenship Law, who had renounced Turkish citizenship through permission and who have not used ‘right of choice’ within three years [31] after losing citizenship due to their parents, can reacquire Turkish Citizenship without being subject to residence permit requirement.   Based on article 14, on the condition that having legal residence in Turkey for three years, those who lost their citizenship pursuant to article 29, through Presidential decision and those who lost their citizenship in pursuant to article 34, through decision of Ministry of Interior can reacquire their citizenship. For the purpose of Turkish Citizenship Law, in the calculation of required uninterrupted residence permit period, periods of residence outside of Turkey should not exceed in total twelve months.[32]

d. Citizenship for spouses of Turkish Citizens

One last way of acquisition of Turkish Citizenship through the decision of competent authority is marrying with a Turkish Citizenship. However, a foreign person may not become a Turkish Citizen merely by the virtue of marriage. In line with the first paragraph of article 16 of the Turkish Citizenship Act, at least three years of marriage with Turkish Citizenship is general eligibility requirement with following conditions; living in a family union with a Turkish spouse, not engaging in activities incompatible with marital union, and not posing an obstacle with respect to national security and public order.

Article 16 also provides that, living in a family union requirement is not applied in case the Turkish citizen spouse dies after the citizenship application is lodged. Also, in a decision of nullity of marriage after Turkish citizenship granted to the foreigner spouse, foreigner can preserve Turkish citizenship if there was good faith marriage.  Separately, in line with article 25 of Implementing Regulation, being not judged or convicted or imprisoned of any crime is also determined as one condition for the marriage citizenship.  Citizenship applications within the scope of article 16, subject to evaluation by a commission established in the provinces in accordance with article 18 of Turkish Citizenship Act.

Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship through the decision of competent authority, do not affect citizenship of another spouse. Children whose parents acquired Turkish Citizenship become Turkish Citizen by the virtue of article 20. However, in the case that one spouse acquire Turkish Citizenship, consent of non-citizen spouse is necessary for the citizenship of children. In the case of disagreement, decision of courts of the country where spouse is regularly residing is applied.

2. Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship through Adoption

Principles on acquiring Turkish Citizenship through adoption is regulated under article 17. Accordingly, as the prior conditions, foreigner child should be adopted by Turkish Citizen and child should not be considered at the age of majority and capacity to act according to their national legal system.[33] An adopted child may become Turkish Citizen from the day he/she is adopted if there is no obstacle with respect to national security and public order.

3. Acquisition of Turkish Citizenship through Right of Choice

As per articles 21 and 22, Children who lost Turkish citizenship due to renunciation permission obtained by their parents, at the age of their Majority, within three years of time, may become Turkish Citizen, through right of choice.

(Excerpt from forthcoming book chapter. All rights reserved.)

Bibliography

[1] UNHCR (2005) Nationality & Statelessness: A Handbook for Parliamentarians p.3

[2] Malanczuk, Peter (2002) Akehurst’s Modern Introduction to International Law, Taylor & Francis Group, ProQuest Ebook Central, 263

See also Piattoeva, Nelli (2009)’Citizenship and nationality in changing Europe: a comparative study of the aims of citizenship education in Russian and Finnish national education policy texts’, Journal of Curriculum Studies

[3] Malanczuk, Peter (2002) Akehurst’s Modern Introduction to International Law, Taylor & Francis Group, ProQuest Ebook Central, 263

[4] Constitution of the Republic of Turkey,  7 November 1982

[5] Law No. 5901 on Turkish Citizenship, (OG.12.06.2009/ 27256)

[6] Regulation on Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law, (OG.06.04.2010/ 27544)

[7] Law no 6735 on International Labor Force, (OG.13.08.2016/ 29800)

[8] Law no 7039 on Amending the Law on Population Services and Certain Laws, (OG.3.11.2017/ 30229)

[9] Amending Regulation on Regulation on Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law (OG. 12.1.2017/ 29946)

  Amending Regulation on Regulation on Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law (OG. 5.5.2017/ 30057)

[10] OG. 19.9.2018 / 30540

[11]Law No. 5901, Art. 5

[12] Law No. 5901, Art. 9

[13] Implementing Regulation, Art. 14

[14] Implementing Regulation, Art. 15

[15] Implementing Regulation, Art 16

[16] League of Nations, Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Law, 13 April 1930, League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 179, p. 89, No. 4137, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3b00.html [accessed 13 May 2021]. Art. 1

Council of Europe, European Convention on Nationality, 6 November 1997, ETS 166, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b36618.html [accessed 13 May 2021] Art. 3

[17] Jeffrey L. Blackman (1998) State Successions and Statelessness: The Emerging Right to an Effective Nationality Under International Law, 19 MICH. J. INT’L L. pp. 1145-47

[18] Law no 1312 on Turkish Citizenship, (OG.04.06.1928/ 904) Art. 6

[19] Law no 403 on Turkish Citizenship, (OG.22.02.1964/ 11638)

[20] Law no 403, Art. 7

[21] Law no 5901, Art 12 (2) “Ministry of Interior rejects the requests of those who are in a position to constitute an obstacle in terms of national security and public order.”

[22] Law no 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection, (OG.11.04.2013/ 28615)

[23] Baran Çelik Neşe (2017) Güncel Gelişmeler Işığında Türk Vatandaşlığının İstisnai Haller Kapsamında Kazanılması, Türkiye Barolar Birliği Dergisi 130, 2017, s.357-418.

[24] Implementing Regulation, Art. 35

[25] Law no. 5543 on Habitation, (OG.26.09.2006/ 26301), Art.3 (1) (d)

[26] Law no 6458, Art. 31 (j)

[27] OG.12.01.2017 / 29946

[28]Amendments to the Implementing Regulation through Presidential decree no. 418, (OG.07.12.2018/ 30618) makes it also possible to acquire Turkish citizenship by a notary public agreement promising the sale of a real estate with condominium or construction servitude worth a minimum of USD 250,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira with a title deed restriction on its resale for at least three years.

[29] Citizenship by Investment Thresholds Before 19 Sept 2018, Presidential Decree No. 106 After 19 Sept 2018, Presidential Decree No. 106
Fixed Capital Investment 2.000.000 USD 500.000 USD
Purchase of Immovable Property 1.000.000 USD 250.000 USD
Creation of Employment 100 Employee 50 Employees
Bank Deposit 3.000.000 USD 500.000 USD
Purchasing Public Debt Instruments 3.000.000 USD 500.000 USD
Purchasing real estate investment fund share or venture capital investment. 1.500.000 USD 500.000 USD

 

[30] Unlike other ways of acquisition of Turkish Citizenship which are requiring foreigners to not pose any threat to the National Security and Public Order, Reacquisition of Turkish Citizenship as per article 13, requires not being in a position to have an obstacle to the National Security.  Condition of not posing any obstacle to the Public Order is excluded deliberately in a way to facilitate the reacquisition of Turkish citizenship. Rifat ERTEN.(2020).Türk Vatandaşlığının Yeniden Kazanılması Yollarında Aranan Ortak Şart: Millî Güvenlik Bakımından Engel Teşkil Edecek Bir Hâli Bulunmamak.Public and Private International Law Bulletin. p. 1367

[31] Law no. 5901, Art. 21

[32] Law no. 5901, Art. 15

[33] Öztürk, N , Yarar, G . (2020). Türk vatandaşlığının evlat edinilme yoluyla kazanılması. Avrasya Sosyal ve Ekonomi Araştırmaları Dergisi , 7 (1) , 18-26 . Retrieved from https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/pub/asead/issue/52304/684828 . p. 22. Article 4 (Applicable Law based on Nationality) of  Law no 5718 on International Private Law and Procedural Law should be applied for stateless children.

Sadık Sözer Çizmeci

Human Resources Executive and Independent Consultant with more than fifteen years of experience and strong knowledge in Turkish labor law, Turkish foreigners’ code, Payroll, HRIS, International assignments and Social security matters. He was also founder of Expat Guide Turkey web page and publications. He received BA degree in International Relations as top scoring graduate from Eastern Mediterranean University, MA degree in Human Resources Management and Career Consulting from Ankara University and LLM degree in European Law from University of Nottingham.

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