Work Permits for Syrian Refugees
Things You Should Know about Work Permits
In order to receive a work permit, the employee must have had temporary protective status for at least six months.
A work permit application must be made by the employer on the applicant’s behalf, in the same city where the applicant is registered.
It is illegal to work without a work permit, and the employer as well as the employee may face administrative fines for doing so.
In order to work in some professions in Turkey, it is necessary to first obtain a preliminary permission from the relevant Turkish ministry in order to apply for a work permit.
For professions in the field of health, you must seek preliminary permission from the Ministry of Health.
For professions in the field of education, you must seek preliminary permission from the Ministry of National Education (primary and secondary school), or from the Council of Higher Education.
For professions in the areas of research and development, you must seek preliminary permission from the Ministry of Industry and Technology.
Syrian nationals as well as refugees and stateless persons from Syria who have arrived in Turkey are granted temporary protection status. Persons under temporary protection are entitled to apply for a work permit six months after the completion of their temporary protection registration. In order to apply for a work permit, it is essential to have a Temporary Protection Identity Document, which bears a foreigner ID number starting with ‘99’.
You can apply for a permit to be employed only at a workplace located at your city of registration. If the workplace where you request to work is located in another province, you will need to approach the Provincial Directorate of Migration Management to change your city of registration. The Provincial Directorate of Migration Management in your current city of registration may accept or reject the request. If your request is accepted, you can apply for a work permit in your new province after you complete the city of registration change procedures.
As a rule, applications for work permits for persons under temporary protection should be made by the employer via the e-Government Gateway. The Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services processes all decisions concerning work permit applications. For detailed and up-to-date information, please consult the official website of the Ministry or call the 170 Hotline.
Based on the regulations regarding foreigners’ work permits in Turkey, the type of work permit that allows individuals to be self-employed and to have the right to work on their own behalf and account, is called an “independent work permit”. If you have established a business in compliance with the regulations in Turkey and will work on your own behalf and account, you should apply for the “independent work permit”. Foreigners under temporary protection who will apply for the independent work permit should apply on their own.
According to the Law No. 6735 on International Labor Force and the Regulation on Work Permits of Foreigners under Temporary Protection, persons under temporary protection are eligible for exemptions in two sectors: seasonal agriculture and husbandry jobs. However, this exemption is not granted automatically, and thus you must formally apply for the exemption. Persons under temporary protection are entitled to apply for a work permit exemption six months after the completion of their temporary protection registration.
Work permit exemption applications should be submitted to the Provincial Directorate of Work and Labor in your city of registration. This agency will process your application through the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services and a work permit exemption will be granted if the Ministry decides positively. The approvals of work permit exemptions for individuals who are identified as appropriate to work in the seasonal agriculture and husbandry sectors will be reported to the relevant Governorate within the first week of the following month after the application is submitted.
According to the applicable domestic legislation, foreigners are prohibited from undertaking certain jobs or occupations, which include the following: dentist, caregiver at hospitals, pharmacist, veterinarian, lawyer, public notary, security at a private or public institution, director of a private hospital, tourist guide, customs consultant, as well as sea captain, seaman, fisherman, diver, and similar jobs within territorial waters.
Persons under temporary protection who wish to work in the health and educational sectors are required to obtain preliminary permission. Applications made without preliminary permission or approval are denied without further evaluation.
Members of the health profession are required to approach the Ministry of Health to obtain preliminary permission. Members of the educational profession should either approach the Ministry of National Education or the Council of Higher Education, depending on the nature of the job.
Similarly, persons who wish to apply for research and development staff positions in companies accredited as Research and Development Centers are required to approach the Ministry of Industry and Technology to obtain pre-approval.
Individuals who will apply for a work permit to work in the above-mentioned areas need to receive the required preliminary permission or approval before submitting their applications.
According to the Law on International Labor Force and the Regulation on Work Permits of Foreigners under Temporary Protection, there are various key criteria to evaluate applications for work permits. The first of these criteria is the employment quota. This quota system includes a requirement that the number of foreigners under temporary protection employed in a workplace cannot be more than 10 per cent of the Turkish citizens employed in the same workplace. In addition, workplaces with fewer than ten employees are only allowed to recruit a maximum of 1 person benefiting from temporary protection.
However, according to the regulations, if the employer can demonstrate that there are no Turkish citizens with the same qualifications available to perform tasks expected of the foreigner within four weeks prior to the date of the work permit application, the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services may disregard the employment quota. Employers are required to certify this situation with a document obtained from the Provincial Directorate of Work and Labor where the workplace is registered.
Other key criteria for the assessment of work permit applications include:
- Whether the application for a work permit has been submitted six months after the completion of the temporary protection registration;
- Whether the employer meets the requirements as stipulated under the above-mentioned cap/quota system;
- Whether the work permit application falls into the category of prohibited jobs or occupations;
- Whether there is a pre-permission or a pre-approval requirement that has been duly observed and met; and
- Whether there is a negative finding issued by authorities regarding the work permit application.
Please note that throughout the evaluation process, updates are regularly communicated to the employer via e-mail. It is also possible to check the status of the an application via the e-Government Gateway.
You must begin working within 30 days of being granted the work permit. Your employer is also under obligation to report your start date to the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services within 15 days.
If the province where your work permit has been issued is different than your province of registration, you need to apply to the Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (PDMM) in your city of registration and request to change your province of registration to the province where your work permit is issued. You would then need to approach the PDMM where your work permit has been issued and present the travel document given to you by the PDMM in your city of registration and your work permit. The migration authorities will review your request and if accepted, you will be able to change your province of registration.
Based on the legislation, since work permit applications are made by employers and permits are granted for a specific workplace or residence, your work permit will cease to be valid, regardless of its duration, if you leave your job. Similarly, you cannot work in multiple workplaces with a single work permit.
Thus, if you wish to work at a different workplace, your new employer is required to submit a new application on your behalf.
The legislation envisions that foreigners who are applying for a work permit for the first time will receive a work permit valid for no more than 1 year. If you are planning to continue working for the same employer after the expiration date of your work permit, you should apply for a work permit extension before the expiration date of your current permit. At the earliest, you will be able to apply for an extension sixty days before your work permit expires. Extension applications after the expiration date of a work permit will not be processed.
Applications for extension of work permits should be submitted by the employer via the e-Government Gateway, same as for the initial work permit applications.
Finally, if you would like to change your workplace after your work permit expires, the application submitted on your behalf by your new employer will qualify as a new work permit application rather than an extension request.
As a rule, work permits for foreigners are bound to a specific workplace or residence. Thus, should your employment contract be terminated for any reason and should you wish to continue to work at another workplace, your new employer is required to submit a new application.
In case of termination or cancellation of your temporary protection status, your work permit will no longer be valid.
Your employer cannot pay you a wage lower than the legally determined minimum wage. If your employer claims that you are not eligible for minimum wage due to your nationality, the employer is being dishonest. All employees, regardless of nationality, are entitled to minimum wage.
According to the applicable social security legislation, your social security coverage is not conditional upon citizenship. Your employer is under obligation to register you in the social security system and pay your social security premium on a regular basis. Employers who fail to comply with these requirements risk heavy administrative fines. If your employer has failed to pay your social security premium, you have the right to approach the Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services and file a complaint. Your complaint should include relevant documents that demonstrate your work status. If you do not have any of these, you may also provide witness statements. Alternatively, you may call the 170 Hotline of the Ministry, to report employers who have failed to comply with the legal requirements.
However, if you are working in the seasonal agriculture or animal husbandry sectors with a work permit exemption, you are subject to a different regime. In this case, your employer is obligated to register you in the social security system only if your total duration of work exceeds 30 days.
Work-related accidents are not confined to accidents at your workplace. Accidents that take place while you are doing a work-related task outside the workplace also fall under the work-related accidents category.
Your employer may be responsible for immediate or subsequent physical and/or psychological injuries arising from work-related accidents.
As a rule, your employer must report the accident immediately to the police unit and the health facility where your workplace is located. Additionally, your employer is obligated to inform the Social Security Office within three days after the accident. Should your employer fail to do so, you may also report it in person. It is important to provide all the documents relevant to the accident with your report.
After reporting, you will be referred to a hospital for an assessment of the physical injury and if need be, the degree to which you are disabled as a result of the injury. Depending on the assessment, you may apply for a disability pension and/or a temporary incapacity allowance.
It is prohibited to work without a work permit or work permit exemption. Both the employer and the employee may face administrative fines. Additionally, foreigners who work without a valid work permit may be subject to other administrative procedures. You can approach our organization to receive more information on this subject.
You may approach Public Education Centers to receive vocational training. These courses are free of charge. However, please be aware that each Public Education Center determines course offerings on a yearly basis and may open new courses on demand. We therefore recommend that you approach the Public Education Centers to inquire about available courses. Please also note that you will be required to present your Temporary Protection Identity Document before you can enroll in these courses.
The Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) also runs several vocational courses. You may approach the Turkish Employment Agency offices to ask about course availability. Finally, there are civil society organizations that provide free skills training, hobby, and vocational courses under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education.