Naturalisation

Turkey

Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

As discussed in International Protection: Naturalisation, citizenship may be granted through: (a) the normal procedure, following 5 years of residence; (b) marriage to a Turkish citizen; or (c) the exceptional circumstances procedure.

Time spent in Turkey under a Temporary Protection Identification Document may not be interpreted to count towards the fulfilment of the requirement of 5 years uninterrupted legal residence as a precondition in applications for Turkish citizenship. The Minister of Interior stated in January 2019 that there were 53,099 naturalised Syrians in Turkey, although this figure includes persons who arrived on residence permits prior to 2011.[1] This figure rose to 110 000 as of 14 February 2020.[2]

Temporary protection beneficiaries who arrived after 2011 can only access naturalisation through marriage to a Turkish citizen or through the exceptional circumstances procedure. Citizenship under exceptional circumstances is granted on the basis of certain profiles and criteria such as skills which could contribute to Turkey. Generally, citizenship is granted to highly qualified Syrians in practice, although other categories can also obtain it.[3]

The process to acquire citizenship is not clear. There are reportedly four phases but there are applicants who have been waiting for a very long time.[4]

The government initiated a preliminary study to offer Turkish citizenship to qualified Syrians in 2018. The situation of about 10,000 families was examined by DGMM, corresponding to 20,000 persons. Information on the families was discussed in the Citizenship Commission. It was anticipated that the cases would take a long time to process, since a significant part of the information on Syrians was based on their own statements.[5] There was no update on this process in 2019.

There is another route to Turkish citizenship under exceptional circumstances for foreign investors to ensure capital flow to Turkey. According to this arrangement citizenship can be acquired in exchange for purchasing property of at least $1 million or investing in fixed capital of at least $2 million, or creating new employment for at least 100 people or depositing in in Turkey at least $3 million with a reservation of not withdrawing it for three years or of buying governmental bonds of $3 million with a reservation of not selling them for three years, or acquiring investment fund of $1.5 million.[6] The limit for real estate ownership decreased down to $250,000 in 2018. According to data collected from the General Directorate of Deeds and Lands (Tapu ve Kadastro Genel Mudurlugu), 6,694 foreigners have received Turkish nationality through purchasing property since 2017. Iranian nationals rank first (1,475) with Iraqis in second place with 842 and Afghans third with 812.[7]

In 2019 Syrians in Antakya requested information on exceptional citizenship through acquiring property but as far as lawyers know the quota for foreigners to acquire property has been exceeded in Antakya. The process is not transparent and mostly regulated through internal communication in DGMM and PDMM.[8]

Despite these initiatives, the majority of Syrians remain ineligible for naturalisation under the aforementioned exceptional circumstances.[9] The criteria for naturalisation are not consistently applied,[10] while the duration of the process also varies. In Hatay the process takes 7 months, while in Gaziantep it may take years.[11]

Unaccompanied children accommodated in child protection shelters are granted citizenship if it is established that they have no relatives in Turkey.[12] The legal status of children born in Turkey was discussed by a 2018 report of the Refugee Rights Commission of the Grand National Assembly.[13] According to the report, as many as 276,000 children born in Turkey are stateless (haymatlos), since they hold neither Syrian nor Turkish identification papers.[14]

The number of new-born Syrians in Turkey was 450,000 as of February 2020.[15]

Many of these can be presumed to be stateless.[16] The Turkish Parliament’s Refugee Sub-committee in 2018 spoke of over 300,000 Syrian children stateless in Turkey.[17] Turkey is not a party to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness or the 1997 European Convention on Nationality. Stakeholders have expressed concerns that Turkey does not currently provide these children unconditional birth-right citizenship and that the Regulation on Temporary Protection does not include time spent in Turkey under temporary protection towards the five years’ uninterrupted legal residence as a precondition for applications for Turkish citizenship by naturalisation. In addition, nationality legislation in Syria does not guarantee women the right to transmit their Syrian nationality to their children. This with the loss of documentation due to the Syrian conflict; and the lack of birth-right citizenship in Turkey combine to deny the children’s right to a nationality and create the risk of statelessness for children born to Syrian refugees in Turkey.[18]

 


[1] Haberturk, ‘Bakan Soylu: 53 bin 99 Suriyeli oy kullanacak’, 19 January 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2YcMBb5. A previous statement referred to 36,000 naturalised Syrians: Onedio, ‘Bakan Soylu'nun 'Kardeşlik Yatırımı' Dileği: 'Allah İzin Verse de Türkiye'de Doğan 380 Bin Suriyeli Çocuğu Vatandaş Yapsak'’, 17 December 2018, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2YiChOZ.

[2] Mülteciler Derneği, ‘Türkiyedeki Suriyeli Sayısı’ https://t24.com.tr/haber/sekiz-yilda-450-bin-suriyeli-cocuk-turkiye-de-dogdu-57-bini-vatandas-oldu,863392

[3] Information provided by the International Refugee Rights Association, February 2019; Istanbul Bar Association, February 2019.

[4] Information from a stakeholder, February 2020.

[5] Grand National Assembly, Göç ve Uyum Raporu, March 2018.

[6] Grand National Assembly, Göç ve Uyum Raporu, March 2018.

[7] ArtıGerçek, '2017'den bu yana yaklaşık 7 bin yabancıya 'emlak vatandaşlığı''12 January 2020, available in Turkish  at: https://bit.ly/33UUw01.

[8] Information from a stakeholder in Antakya, February 2020.

[9] Information provided by a lawyer of the Ankara Bar Association, January 2019.

[10] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[11] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[12] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[13] Grand National Assembly, Göç ve Uyum Raporu, March 2018.

[14] Hürriyet, ‘Meclis'e rapor: Türkiye’nin haymatlosları*’, 19 January 2018, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2DGdCJr.

[15] T24, ‘Sekiz yılda 450 bin Suriyeli çocuk Türkiye'de doğdu, 57 bini vatandaş oldu’, 26 February 2020, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2UFC2wo.

[16] See Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Syrian Refugees in Turkey, September 2019, page 8, available at: https://bit.ly/3bl07Q5.

[17] Hurriyet Daily News, ‘More than 300,000 ‘stateless’ Syrian babies born in Turkey: Refugee subcommittee’, 19 March 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/3bxOjdi.

[18] Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion and the European Network on  Statelessness, Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council at the 35th Session of the Universal Periodic Review, (Third Cycle, January 2020), Turkey, July 2019 page 6, available at:  https://bit.ly/2xxr8kX.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Turkey
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection