If you’ve never applied for a residence permit in Turkey before, the thought of being interviewed by an immigration official at the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management, or immigration office),might sound a little scary! It's something all of us as foreigners go through every time we extend our residence permits. Once you've done it, you'll realize it wasn't scary at all.
But if you're like me, the more you know about something, the better you feel about it, so the objective of this guide is to tell you in advance what the appointment experience will be like. That way you'll have less anxiety and more confidence when you go to your appointment.
Before Your Appointment Day
As you come to the end of the online residence permit application process, you’ll be given an appointment date and time to go to the local immigration office. In some provinces, you can choose a convenient date and time. But in Istanbul, for example, you might have no choice—you’ll have to go on a date and at the time the online system gives you. The system will also give you a link for you to download your completed İkamet İzni Kayıt Formu (Residence Permit Registration Form). Save a copy of that on your computer. Print one full copy (all pages) to add to your residence permit application package. Then print one copy of the first page to carry with you, along with your passport. That'll keep you legal in Turkey until your appointment day, even if your visa or current residence permit expires or you exceed the number of days your visa allows you to be in Turkey.
Next, you'll need to create an application package with the printed and signed registration form on top. To learn more about the different types of residence permits and what documents are required for each type of application, see: Residence Permit Application Guides.
Residence Permit Appointments in Istanbul
The immigration office's Istanbul branches often ask for more documentation than the others. If they want more documentation, they'll send you an SMS or an E-mail (depending on the communications preference you choose during the online application).
To learn more about Istanbul’s additional requirements, see: Applying for a Residence Permit in Istanbul.
If you receive a request for an additional document and don't know what it is or how to get it, see: Documents, Forms & Numbers.
Pay the Residence Permit Fees Before Your Appointment
You should pay your residence permit fees before you go to your appointment. You can pay them with a credit card online using a link to the tax office website the residence permit application system will provide. If that doesn't work, you can pay them at any vergi dairesi (tax office).
Officially, you can also pay the fees at VakıfBank, ZiraatBank, and Halkbank. However, according to reports of Turkey Central members, personnel at the banks often refuse to accept the payment, or are unaware of the option. So this method of payment is not recommended.
You can also pay during your appointment, but only if it has a tax office cashier there. If it doesn't, you'll have to go to one and come back with the receipt, probably in the middle of somebody else's appointment. For the least hassle, pay the fees before your appointment.
To learn about the residence permit fees, how to pay them, and the payment codes you'll need if you pay at a bank, see: Residence Permit Fees.
Finding the Immigration Office
At the bottom of the first page of your Residence Permit Registration Form, you'll see the address of the immigration office where you need to go for your appointment. If you go there by taxi, show the driver that address to eliminate any confusion about where you're going.
Don't miss your appointment! If you miss your appointment, your residence permit application will be canceled. Plan to be at the immigration office at least 30 minutes to an hour early, so you can be sure you’re there on time, even if there are delays.
If in Doubt, Bring It!
If you're not sure if you should bring a document or not, bring it. As the saying goes, "Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!"
When you arrive at the immigration office, a security guard will ask to see your passport or your current residence permit and your printed Residence Permit Registration Form. Then they'll let you in.
Go to the information desk first, even though you have an appointment. Let them know you're there. They’ll check your identification and your application package, then have you sit in the waiting area.
If the immigration office is one of the main provincial ones (in the capital city of a province), there'll be a vezne (cashier) there. So if you haven't paid your residence permit fees yet, and you have time, you can pay the fees there. Only the larger provincial offices have these cashiers; the smaller branch offices usually don't. If you're not sure if you have time, go to your appointment. The immigration official, after your appointment, will tell you to go and pay the fees and come back with the receipts.
Insider Tip: Pay the residence permit fees before your appointment if you can. It will save time and the immigration official will appreciate it!
Your Residence Permit Application Interview
The immigration specialists are typically very polite, friendly, and professional. Smile. Be courteous and respectful. The immigration specialists have a difficult and stressful job, and I think they're pretty happy to deal with a polite foreigner who has everything ready. So by all means, be one.
Hand the immigration specialist your residence permit package, or give them individual documents as they ask for them. They'll go over your documents and make sure everything is there. They'll probably ask you questions like:
- Is there anyone living with you?
- Are you working?
- Do you intend to work?
- Do you have enough money to support yourself?
- Why do you want to live in Turkey?
They're not trying to screen you out or eliminate you. Turkey gives residence permits rather generously as compared to many other countries. The main thing they're checking is to make sure you're here for the reason you say you are, and that you can live in Turkey without having to work illegally.
Proving You Have Enough Money to Live On
One of the biggest concerns of the immigration specialist is if you'll work illegally. So they'll want you to convince them you won't. How much money will you need to prove? It depends on the person. If you have a smaller amount of money or income, but can convince them that it's enough, you'll be okay.
Proving You Have a Place to Live
How to prove your address is detailed in the residence permit application guides (the link is above). But to summarize, they'll want
- Your property title deed or a notarized copy of your rental contract
- A taahhütname (a legal declaration) from your friend if you're using a friend's address
- A letter from the hotel where you're staying
- One or more utility bills, in your name (if you own or are renting your own place)
If you own your place and have a property title deed that's more than two years old, take it to the local Tapu ve Kadastro Genel Müdürlüğü (General Directorate of Property Titles and Land Registry) and get a Tapu Kayıt Örneği (Title Deed Registry Document) to prove the property is still in your name.
To learn what documents are required to prove you have an address, see: Turkey Residence Permit Address and Change of Address.
If you're applying in Istanbul, they often send an SMS message asking for other documents to bring to your appointment. If you get one of these messages and don't know what the document is that they're asking for, see:
If any documents are missing or inadequate, the immigration specialist will give you up to 30 days to get them. Then you can come back without an appointment and give them to the immigration specialist.
Important! You must bring the missing documents to the immigration specialist within the time they give you, or go back and explain the situation. If you don't provide the missing document when you're required to, your application will be rejected, not canceled. If it's rejected, you'll have to wait six months before you can apply for the same type of residence permit again.
Concluding the Interview
At the end of the interview, the immigration specialist will give you one of two documents:
The Residence Permit Application Document
The İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document) acts as a temporary residence permit. It's a regular A4 size piece of paper containing your personal information and photo. With this, you can stay in Turkey, even after your visa has expired or you've exceeded the number of days your visa allows. If you get one of these, then your residence is approved. They'll then print your card and send it to you by registered mail.
If you need to leave the country before your residence permit card arrives, you can leave for up to 15 days and return without a visa, as long as you have this document and the receipts for payment of the residence permit fee and the card printing fee. If any of those documents are missing when you return, or if you're out of Turkey for more than 15 days, you'll have to re-enter with a visa.
The Tebliğ Tebellüğü Belgesi(Communique Document)
The tebliğ tebellüğü (Application Received Communique) is an untitled document that has your application number written at the top. It says you've applied for a residence permit and that you'll receive a notification within 90 days. It also says that, if your application is rejected, your fees won't be returned. This document allows you to stay in Turkey, even if your visa or current residence permit expires. But if you leave Turkey, it doesn't allow you to return without a visa as described above.
They usually issue these in cases where the foreigner has more time allowed on their visa or current residence permit than the amount of time it'll take for them to receive their residence permit card. That is, if the foreigner has to leave Turkey and return before they receive the card, they can do so with their existing visa or residence permit.