Turkish citizenship can be acquired in several ways, including through marriage or working or living for a certain period of time. Another option is to invest in the country. Accordingly, those who meet the requirements specified in the law can easily obtain citizenship after submitting the necessary documents.
Although the most popular option for citizenship is to purchase real estate worth at least US$400,000, there are several other options introduced by the Turkish Citizenship Law No. 5901. In this regard, the applicable legislation offers the following investment options to foreigners to meet of the requirements for Turkish citizenship:
- Fixed capital investments: Having made an equity investment of at least US$500,000.00 or its equivalent in any other currency (excluding TRL); and determination of such investment by the Ministry of Industry and Technology.
- Purchase of real estate: Have purchased real estate for at least $400,000.00 [the respective value was increased from US$ 250,000.00 to US$ 400,000.00 as of June 13, 2022] or its equivalent in any other currency (except TRL), provided that a note has been made in the register of notarial documents restricting the sale of the purchased real estate for the next 3 (three) years. Accordingly, any foreigner who applies for Turkish citizenship based on the purchase of real estate must undertake not to sell the relevant real estate for 3 (three) years from the acquisition.
- Ensuring employment: Creation of employment for at least 50 (fifty) employees; and determination of such employment by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services.
- Cash deposits in Turkish banks: Cash deposit of at least USD 500,000.00 or its equivalent in any other currency (except TRL) in banks validly registered and operating in Turkey, provided that the deposit will be held in the relevant bank for the next 3 (three) years; and determination of such deposit by the Agency for Banking Regulation and Supervision.
- Purchase of public debt instruments: Having purchased US$500,000.00 worth of public debt instruments or their equivalent in any other currency (except TRL), provided that the instruments are held in reserve for the next 3 (three) years; and determination of such purchase by the Treasury and Finance Department.
- Purchase of an equity interest in a real estate investment fund or an interest in a venture capital investment fund: Purchased units of a real estate investment fund or venture capital fund established in Turkey in exchange for at least US$500,000.00 or its equivalent in any other currency (except TRL), provided that such units of participation are stored in the relevant fund for the following 3 (three) years; and determination of such purchase by the Capital Markets Board.
It is important to emphasize that Turkish citizenship acquired through one of the above investment categories grants the applicant the same status as Turkish citizens who have acquired citizenship by birth. This means that those who obtain Turkish citizenship by investment will have the same citizenship rights as other citizens.
Foreign currency requirement
As noted above, the applicant must invest in a foreign currency other than Turkish lira. Previously, the corresponding thresholds were also accepted in Turkish lira. However, according to recent changes in legislation, the investment must be made only in foreign currency and the applicant is required to exchange the invested foreign currency through a bank operating in Turkey. In addition, the relevant bank is obliged to exchange the foreign currency through the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. The investment amount will be held in a Central Bank through a Turkish deposit account or Turkish debt instruments for a period of 3 (three) years as stated above.
Who has the right to acquire Turkish citizenship?
In addition to the foreign applicant, his spouse and their minor/dependent children are also eligible to obtain Turkish citizenship, without the requirement of separate investments by family members. In other words, citizenship can also be granted to dependent family members of the applicant, without each of these members having to meet the relevant investment conditions.
Application and time frame
The process for acquiring Turkish citizenship from one of the above investment categories consists of three stages. These stages are as follows:
(1) Fulfillment of one of the investment requirements specified above; and obtaining a certificate of compliance from the relevant authority;
(2) Obtaining a short-term residence permit [It is worth noting that foreign individuals meeting the investment thresholds requirements are not required to reside permanently in Turkey for a certain period of time. Contrary to the acquisition of Turkish citizenship based on permanent residency as per Turkish Citizenship Law, the mandatory period of permanent residence (i.e., 5 (five) years) does not constitute a criterion in the acquisition of Turkish citizenship by investment.]; and
(3) Application for Turkish citizenship before the relevant authority.
It should also be noted that the authorities may request several other documents from the applicant depending on the investment option. In this regard, to take advantage of “purchase on Real Estateoption, an appraisal report proving the value of the purchased property must be obtained from a real estate appraisal institution holding a license issued by the Capital Markets Board. After the assessment report, the certificate of suitability must be obtained from the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre of the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change. Only those who have received a certificate of fitness will be eligible to apply for Turkish citizenship.
Once an application is deemed acceptable by the relevant authority, the relevant applicant will be able to acquire Turkish citizenship by decision of the President of the Republic of Turkey. Acquiring Turkish citizenship by investment will take a total of 3 (three) to 12 (twelve) months.