The Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme

Citizenship fundamentally includes belonging. This belonging refers to the rights and obligations of the individual to the state to which he or she is bound by citizenship. While the conventional concept of citizenship refers to “a person’s connection with the country where a person was born and where this relationship with birth is established”, with the effects of globalisation, concepts such as “renunciation of citizenship” and “dual citizenship” have entered our lives. The concept of citizenship has started to become universal and identifies not with the “country of birth” but rather with the “country of preference and where the individual wants to gain rights and obligations”.

“Dual Citizenship”, which is becoming progressively included in the legislation of many countries, refers to the fact that two completely independent countries provide the same individual with a status in accordance with their own laws and establish a legal connection with him. At this point, the matter of “Citizenship Conflict”[1] comes into the agenda. Some countries have chosen to resolve this situation with the regulations in their laws, while some countries aim to prevent such conflicts by banning dual citizenship.

Turkey granted dual citizenship rights to its citizens with the law[2] it passed in 1981, and then expanded the scope and limits of this right over time with many changes in the legislation. Especially with the changes made in the legislation in recent years in order to encourage foreign investment, stimulate the economy, and ensure Turkey’s place in the world order, “Turkish Citizenship Through Investment Programme” has managed to take its place amongst the most preferred citizenship programmes in the world.

The Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme is an “exceptional” way to obtain citizenship, and the aim is to promote foreign capital, create jobs, stimulate economy, and, in sum, to provide the support the state needs to achieve its goals with the power of foreign individuals[3]. It can be said that the general purposes of all citizenship programmes in the world are similar. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to say that the results of citizenship programmes where the objectives are similar are the same in every country. Because even the traditional meaning attached to the word “citizenship” differs in each country. For this reason, it is vital to consider whether the society of the country will experience conflict with the foreign citizens who acquire citizenship or whether it will cause various legal, social, cultural, or political issues, and the details of the programme should be determined after considering in detail. Therefore, it should be remembered that the concept of dual citizenship, which has always maintained its popularity from the past to the present, will also bring with it some conflicts, discussions, and criticisms.

Therefore, when determining the conditions of such programmes, the public pulse should be kept in mind as the naturalised persons will have a say in the future of the country as well as the people who were born and raised there, and arrangements should be made to naturalise those who can contribute to the country, easily integrate with their own society, and become a real part of the country in every sense.

Together with the changes made with the Presidential Decree No. 106 published in the Official Gazette dated 19.09.2018 and the Presidential Decree No. 418 published in the Official Gazette dated 7.12.2018, it has been regulated that the individuals below can apply for Turkish Citizenship Through Investment:

  1. a) Individuals who have made fixed capital investments of at least 500,000 USD or equivalent in foreign currency or equivalent Turkish Lira that is determined by the Ministry of Industry and Technology;
  2. b) Individuals who buy the real estate in the amount of at least 250,000 USD or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent Turkish Lira on the condition that it is not sold for three (3) years, or a floor ownership or construction servitude has been established, at least 250,000 USD or its equivalent in foreign currency or individuals who are determined by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation that the contract issued by the Notary Public that the sale of the immovable property of which the amount of Turkish Lira has been deposited in advance has been annotated to the land registry for three (3) years with the commitment that it will not be transferred and cancelled,
  3. c) Individuals that have created employment for at least 50 people which is determined by the Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Services, 
  4. d) Individuals who have deposited at least 500,000 USD or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent Turkish Lira in banks operating in Turkey for three (3) years which is determined by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency,
  5. e) Individuals who have purchased State debt instruments of at least 500,000 USD or equivalent foreign currency or equivalent Turkish Lira on condition that they keep them for three (3) years which is determined by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance,
  6. f) Individuals who purchased real estate investment fund participation shares or venture capital investment fund participation shares in the amount of at least 500,000 USD or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish Lira, provided that they hold at least three (3) years which is determined by the Capital Markets Board.

When comparing the investment amounts before the 2018 legislative change with the current amounts, it can be seen that the investment amounts of the programme have been significantly reduced.  This situation shows that Turkey has made a serious attempt to attract foreign investors and that the aim is to benefit from the long-term investment potential of the investors drawn to the country, rather than the revenue from the programme.

 

TYPES OF INVESTMENTS Investment Amounts Before 2018 Change Investment Amounts After 2018 Change
Real Estate Investment $1,000,000 $250,000
Bank Deposits $3,000,000 $500,000
Government Debt Instruments $3,000,000 $500,000
Creating Jobs 100 jobs 50 jobs
Real Estate Investment Fund $1,500;000 $500,000
Fixed Capital Investment $2,000,000 $500,000

 

Among the investment types mentioned above, the real estate investment of $250,000 and deposit investment of $500,000 are among the most preferred ones. The low amount required real estate investment, the deposit investment amount of $500,000 which brings in interest income over a 3-year period, the fact that the deposit can be kept in the bank as foreign currency, and the low risk associated are the reasons foreign investors choice this programme.

Prominent features of the Turkish Citizenship Programme through Investment are listed below:

  • The applicant may include their spouse and non-adult children (or adult but dependent children) in the application without the need for additional investment.
  • The applicant is not obliged to enter Turkey, the whole process can be concluded by attorneys from start to finish.
  • Since Turkey recognises dual citizenship, it is not compulsory to renounce the other country’s citizenship and the applicant is not obliged to make a declaration of property regarding the country of residence.
  • There is no obligation to reside in Turkey for a certain period of time before or after obtaining citizenship.
  • If the necessary information and documents are delivered and the application is approved by the relevant authorities, citizenship can be obtained within as little as 3 months. There is no need to wait for the end of the 3-year committed investment period but violating the commitments during this period may bring up the cancellation of the earned citizenship.

The Turkish Citizenship Programme continues to receive increasing demand because the programme has a dynamic and fast-functioning process, gives confidence, makes the foreign investor feel truly valuable, and continues to move on a solid basis by constantly updating itself in this direction. For Turkish Citizenship to achieve its deserved value without losing its essence, the continuous support of the citizenship programme with the necessary legal regulations and the fact that the practitioners follow the process with great sensitivity and carry out it in a way that protects the interests of both the country and the investor will undoubtedly play a major role in the realisation of the purpose of the Turkish Citizenship Programme.

[1] For the issue of the provision of rights in the Law of Obligations, see Arsebük, Borçlar Hukuku, Ankara 1950, page 38-40

[2] Official Gazette: Amendment of Certain Articles of Turkish Citizenship Law Dated 17254-17.02.1981. 13.02.1981 and numbered 2383, dated 11.02.1964 and numbered 403 and Adding Two Additional Temporary Provisions to This Law.

[3] Şerif Dilek, “Yatırım Yoluyla Vatandaşlık Ekonomik Aktiviteye Katkı Sağlar mı?’’ Perspektif, Page 162, January 2017.