Today, after weeks of preparation, we finally went to the immigration office in Izmir to turn in my documents for my residency permit. Alhamdulillah and Allah cok sukur, we got it right the first try! Let me tell you right now, so many people/websites/officials told us different things- that I was very concerned about succeeding in this endeavor. Several friends told me about their struggles of getting a work permit for Turkey, and that really had me wondering if I would be ok. Well, here I am, with a successfully completed Family Residency Permit! It appears as though being married to a Turk makes a huuuuuge difference when it comes to the residency permit process.
I really wish someone would have told me straight how the process went…so now I am going to tell you!
Keep in mind that every situation is different- and these are a few of the things that made our situation unique:
- I am American, my husband is Turkish
- We have been married 2.5 years, so citizenship eligibility is right around the corner
- Hubby is awaiting assignment to his job by the government- he isn’t just jobless
- We went EVERYWHERE for these things together, and with his dad. I feel like having a “team” helps the process
- We applied and completed everything in Izmir
- I have no criminal record
If I were a Cuban male, married for five minutes, and applying in Kayseri by myself- would things be different? I have NO idea. That’s why I want to really impress upon you that what I did and what worked for me may not work for you. But this is how it went….
What you need:
4 photographs of you, within the last 6 months, BIOMETRIC (Biometrik)
1 photo of your spouse, BIOMETRIC
Your passport, and a photo copy
Your spouse’s Turkish ID and photo copy
Proof of 24k TL from the bank, in your spouse’s name (from the day of your application)
Proof of Turkish insurance
Your Turkish marriage licence
Proof of Turkish residency for your spouse
Your vergi (tax) number
Your entry visa
$145 (in TL, at the exchange rate of the day) and 55TL
What is a family residency permit?
The family residency permit is intended for allowing the spouse (and children) of a Turkish citizen to remain in the country for 2 years. The 2 years is kind of pre-determined. Whether or not you can make it less, I am not sure. However, I am pretty sure that you can’t make it more than 2 years on the first application. This is my understanding. I went for the 2 years permit even though I am eligible for citizenship in a few months, because that citizenship process takes forever- and it is better to be safe than sorry. A friend of mine recently applied for citizenship based on bloodline, around 3 months ago, and she is still waiting for approval.
The good side is that it seems like the easiest/ cheapest permit to obtain. On the bad side, you don’t have the right to work.
We obtained our biometric photos from a “foto kent”. Biometric is basically just a face close up with a white background. I was scarved and also wore some makeup- but nothing crazy (a bit of blusher, eyeliner, light eye shadow, and filled in eyebrows). If you look like someone else, they may not accept it. No problem with being covered though. Ask for a digital copy- it will make filling out your online application form a lot easier.
Passport/ Turkish ID
I think this is pretty straight forward. Make sure you copy the page with your info and picture on it. Turkish IDs need both sides copied.
Proof of money
The proof of money was also a lot simpler than I though it would be! You simply go to the bank and ask for the proof from your Turkish citizen spouse’s account. It will be signed by the bank worker on duty. If you have your account in dollars rather than TL, ask the bank associate to include a statement of what the value of the dollars would be that day, in TL. That worked for us- but if someone at the immigration office is having a bad day, they may not accept it. Fair warning. ***IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU OBTAIN THIS FORM THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT
You can spend it all after you’re done 😉
Proof of insurance
Ok, this is where the situation becomes uniquely married. That is, I am covered under my husband’s SGK- national health coverage. If you just got here, you will have to pay a fee for it (unless it is after the elections on Nov 1, 2015 when you read this- then I have no idea). There is a form to obtain from the SGK office, and something to print off from online to prove you are covered. Bring it all. Heck, we even got a special form from the SGK office with my name on it saying I am covered too, just to be safe.
No need to buy private insurance when you are married ;).
The first lady we saw at the SGK office told us that we had to get all of these forms to prove that we just arrived in Turkey and had been in the US previously. What a headache. We asked someone else, and they said a stamped passport was enough. This is a GREAT example of how things in Turkey sometimes depend on the person you talk to.
Turkish marriage license
If you got married outside of Turkey as we did, you would have to file your marriage with the Turkish consulate. You will receive the aile cuzdani (marriage license). We did this the week after we married. YOU NEED THIS. If you haven’t done it yet- do it now!
Again, as we just arrived, we had to go to some building that said nufus on it…don’t ask, this was when we just got here about 2 months ago, and have hubbys father sign a paper saying that hubby was living in Turkey again. You are going to need that form.
When you are a non-citizen who wants to have a bank account or do something financial with the Turkish government, you need a tax number. You will be able to get this with your passport at your local Vergi Dairesi. It takes a few days for the system to register you, so do this early. You need this number to pay your fee.
THIS is something that took me FOREVER and a lot of STRESS to find out. If you are coming into Turkey and intend to get a family residency permit.. you can enter on an E-VISA/tourist with no problems! Everywhere I looked it said E-VISAs can only be used for short term residency permits. Well, that was a big fat lie. You can get your visa for entry into Turkey as simple as click, click on the internet! Bring a copy of the print out when you go to the appointment.
$145/ 55TL fee
This is where we hit our snag today. The fee for a 2 year family permit is pretty low compared to others, that I have heard. Is this because Im American or because it is a family permit? I have no idea. But that was the fee. PLEASE note, so you don’t make our mistake, the $145 should be paid in TURKISH LIRA according to the exchange rate of THAT DAY. You will pay at the vergi daire that is closest to your immigration office. Bring two photocopies of your receipt!
The application form
The application form is pretty standard and easy to answer. YOUR permanent address should be the one in your home country. You only have to answer the questions in red. The area that was confusing for us was the “supporter’s work/income” section. Because we had the proof of funds, we simply put 1000TL for the income, because you are basically showing 2 years of minimum wage when you show the 24K TL in the bank. I don’t know if this could be a problem for someone who is NOT waiting for a gov’t job. As hubby understood it, if you have the cash in the bank- the income is not important. Either way, it worked out. Also, I filled out and sent in this form the day before the appointment (because that’s all we had open). I heard that if your visa runs out while you await your permit appointment that it’s ok…but I don’t like pushing the limits.
I want to stress- very much stress- HIGHLIGHT, UNDERLINE, and BOLD:
everyone and everywhere is different
It is unfortunate that, as I have come to realize, everything can be made more difficult when someone is in a mood. If the bank teller doesn’t like you, they may not give you a form stating turkish lira and dollars. If the vergi daire person doesn’t like you, your form could take longer to process. If the immigration office person thinks your hair needs work, they can say your insurance proof is insufficient and you need more documentation. That is Turkey. Sure, if you complain you can probably get around all that nonsense- but it is a head ache none the less.
If you have any other insights for different countries/ cities/ situations, please send me a message or drop a comment below to help out the others in your situation!