Eligibility criteria

Turkey

Country Report: Eligibility criteria Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

The principal characteristic and justification of the temporary protection approach generally is to swiftly attend to the protection needs of a large number of protection seekers in a situation of mass influx of refugees where individual processing is considered both impractical and unnecessary. The temporary protection approach is meant to categorically apply to and benefit all persons falling within the scope of beneficiaries formulated by the host Government, without any personalised assessment of international protection needs.

While generally a Presidency decision is required for the declaration of a temporary protection regime, in the case of the TPR in place for persons escaping the conflict in Syria, the Turkish Government opted to formalise the existing de facto temporary protection regime already in place since 2011 by means of a provisional article incorporated in the main text of the TPR itself – as opposed to issuing a separate Presidency decision.

 

“Syrian nationals, stateless persons and refugees”

 

Provisional Article 1 TPR specifically establishes that “Syrian nationals, stateless people and refugees” who have arrived in Turkey, whether individually or as part of a mass movement of people, due to events unfolding in Syria, are eligible for temporary protection in Turkey.

This formulation appears to indicate that in addition to Syrian nationals, also stateless persons originating from Syria, including members of the substantial stateless Palestinian population who were resident in Syria at the time of the beginning of the conflict in 2011, are covered by the TPR. Practice is consistent with this interpretation, as stateless Palestinians from Syria are registered as temporary protection beneficiaries.[1]

 

“Directly arriving from Syria”

 

Provisional Article 1 TPR contains a phrasing which in practice is interpreted by border officials as a requirement for prospective beneficiaries to arrive directly from Syria, as opposed to travelling to Turkey from or via a third country.

The provision speaks of persons who “arrive at our borders” or “have crossed our borders”, whether “individually” or “as part of a mass movement of people”. As such, it actually does not articulate a clear requirement of arriving directly from Syria at all. A person taking a plane from a third country and landing in a Turkish airport may be perfectly understood to have “arrived at our borders” “individually”. Since 8 January 2016, however, Turkey no longer operates a visa-free regime for Syrians who enter by sea or air.

The imposition of visa requirements for persons coming by sea or air has been combined with strict enforcement of Provisional Article 1 TPR. Accordingly, DGMM only admits into the temporary protection regime Syrians who arrive directly from Syria.[2] Those arriving through a third country are excluded from the temporary protection regime. Although they should be allowed to apply for international protection under the LFIP, in practice they are not registered as international protection applicants. This includes Syrian nationals who may arrive through another country even if their family members in Turkey already benefit from temporary protection.[3]

In some cases, PDMM have referred these persons for a short-term visa and then a short-term residence permit.[4] Health care and other benefits are not accessible free of charge on a short-term residence permit. In two known cases in 2018, however, Syrians arriving from Jordan at Izmir Airport were not allowed to access temporary protection and were returned to Jordan.[5]

 

The cut-off date of 28 April 2011

 

Provisional Article 1 TPR also provides a cut-off date for purpose of inclusion in the temporary protection regime. It provides that persons who have arrived from Syria from 28 April 2011 or later are to be exclusively processed within the framework of the temporary protection regime. As such, they shall be barred from making a separate international protection application. If they had already made an application for international protection before the publication of the TPR on 22 October 2014, these applications were suspended and the persons concerned were instead processed as temporary protection beneficiaries.

Any persons who had arrived in Turkey prior to 28 April 2011 and had already made an application for international protection were given the option of choosing whether they wished to remain within the international protection procedure framework or benefit from temporary protection. The number of Syrian nationals concerned by this provision is however very limited, since the population of Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey back in early 2011 before the beginning of the conflict in Syria was quite low.[6]

 

Syrian nationals with regular residence permits

 

Similarly, any Syrian nationals who were legally resident in Turkey as of 28 April 2011 or later, on the basis of a regular residence permit completely outside the asylum framework – like other nationalities of legally residing foreigners – are allowed the option of continuing their legal residence in Turkey on this basis, unless they wish to register as temporary protection beneficiaries. In fact, the relatively small number of Syrian nationals who continue to arrive in Turkey legally with valid passports in the period since the adoption of the TPR on 22 October 2014 still maintain this option.

In order for a foreign national to request and obtain a residence permit after they arrive in Turkey, he or she needs to have legally entered the country with a valid passport and either on the basis of a short-stay visa or visa-exemption grounds depending on the nationality. Since 2016, however, Turkey no longer allows visa-free entry to Syrian nationals. One problem encountered by such Syrian residence permit holders is that when and if the validity period of their passport expires and they do not generally manage to have it extended, they are no longer eligible for an extension of their residence permit. However, it has been reported that there are some Syrians who are able to extend their passports at the Syrian Consulate in Istanbul.[7]

 


[1] Information provided by a lawyer of the Antakya Bar Association, March 2019.

[2] Zeynep Kivilcim, ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) Syrian refugees in Turkey’, 2016, 29.

[3] Information provided by NGOs, March 2019.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Information provided by a lawyer of the Izmir Bar Association, March 2019.

[6] As of 31 December 2010, there were only 224 Syrian nationals registered with UNHCR and Turkish authorities as asylum seekers: Information provided by UNHCR, December 2015.

[7] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2018. There was no new information on this in 2019.

 

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