MENAPolicy Updates

Turkey Launches Digital Nomad Visa, Plans Tech Visa Next

On April 23, 2024, the Turkish government released an official statement announcing the Digital Nomad Visa (DNV) and its requirements. 

Turkey has been working on the DNV for some time, but since people could easily obtain tourist residency permits, the need for a DNV has not been pressing. As the government revamps its immigration framework and restricts tourist residencies, however, the DNV has finally made its official appearance.

Ece Selin Temel, a Turkish immigration lawyer, told IMI that clients have been asking her about a Turkish DNV “for years.” But the country’s popular tourist residence permit, which allowed foreigners with independent incomes to stay in the country on a medium-term basis, had served as an ersatz DNV.

“When tourist residency approval rates were unreasonably high, almost anyone could come and settle in Turkey,” remarked Temel.

She explains that the government’s decision to finally establish a dedicated visa for digital nomads may be part of a wider plan to attract an audience that differs from those who typically apply for tourist residency permits.

Digital nomadism, she points out, “is not exactly a form of relocation migration. I have been working with European Digital Nomad programs for some time now, so I am familiar with the criteria of the clients: They need a safe, friendly, pleasant environment with strong internet infrastructure, reasonable rent, and living costs.”

She believes that a dedicated program with “an easier application and renewal process will attract and reassure true digital nomads.”

Turkey has been rapidly reshaping its immigration framework in the past few years. Temel points out that “approval rates for tourist residency have dropped drastically, and nationality-specific restrictions have been introduced from time to time.”

Ahmet Şener, Managing Partner at Smart Citizenship, wasn’t surprised by the government’s decision to introduce the new visa route. Şener told IMI that he “was expecting some kind of formula after the government revoked hundreds of thousands of touristic residencies.”

Only 32 nationalities qualify for the DNV

According to the statement, the DNV is open to applicants aged 21-55 who are citizens of the countries in the table below:

Temel clarified that nationality-based restrictions aren't something new in Turkey, especially amidst rapid immigration restructuring.

"During the last three years," she comments, "approval rates for tourist residency have dropped drastically, and the government has introduced nationality-specific restrictions occasionally."

She thinks the government has intentionally "excluded all continents to the South and East to avoid the risk of migrants who are not digital nomads, to avoid further controversy over immigration issues since the country has hosted more than three million refugees throughout the last ten years."

She pointed out that "the inclusion of Ukrainians and Russians is still a matter of discussion."

The Turkish government also announced that applicants must meet the minimum income threshold of US$3,000 a month (US$36,000 annually) to qualify for the DNV.

Turkey Digital Nomad Visa application process

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The process for obtaining a Turkish DNV starts on the government's Digital Nomad Pre-Application platform, Digital Nomad GoTurkey

Applicants must upload the following documents to the portal:

  • Travel document/passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in Turkey
  • Higher Education diploma or diploma substitute document
  • Document showing that the applicant works as a Digital Nomad: 
    • Contract if working for a company (except companies in Turkey); or
    • Employment contract between the applicant and the company if self-employed (except companies in Turkey)

  • Biometric photo
  • Document proving that the applicant has a monthly income of US$3,000 or an annual income of US$36,000

After the application is completed on this platform, the government will issue applicants a "Digital Nomad Identification Certificate." 

Upon receiving the certificate from the platform, applicants must proceed with the next steps of their application at Turkish consulates or visa centers. 

Şener has a mixed view of the DNV. He understands why the government launched this type of visa with a simplified process, saying that it is an "easy sell" to the public since it "checks all the boxes."

"The people who come through this route won't take your jobs," Şener explained. "They will spend their hard-earned cash in Turkey, giving a much-needed boost to the economy."

Şener did, however, express some skepticism regarding the government's processing abilities.

"The only downside is that the ministry responsible for the program will never be able to get it off the ground as they don't have the necessary personnel or the know-how to receive and approve applications," he told IMI. 

Temel explains that "the authorities continue to work on the necessary legislation and integration between Consulates and Immigration. For now, a user-friendly online system is ready for the first stage of the application."

Government planning new Tech Visa

Turkey is also planning to launch a new "Tech Visa". IMI understands the government is still discussing the new immigration route internally, and although the government has already launched a dedicated website, the Tech Visa remains nonfunctional at the moment.

Temel said that while the Tech Visa still has no official launch date, "the government has established the tax advantages, governmental incentives, health, and social security benefits under the visa."

She also notes that there is no "nationality distinction in the Tech Visa" and that if all goes according to plan, the program "looks promising to support the innovation and technology industry."

The Tech Visa will be open to "startups and talent." The duration of the visa for either category is three years, and applicants can add their family members (spouse and minor children) to their application. 

According to the government, each route has a different set of benefits. For Talents, the benefits are:

  • Income Tax Exemption: Tech Visa holders working in Turkish companies carrying out R&D activities in Turkey do not pay income tax.
  • Social Security Coverage: The state will cover half of the social security premiums, including holistic health services.
  • Individual Consultancy Service: The government has not provided specific details about this service, only stating that it "will be there for you when needed."

The Tech Visa's benefits for Start-Ups apply to either partners or employees of the company as follows:

  • Three-Year Work Permit: Turkey's Tech Visa allows applicants to bring their staff or recruit talents from other countries easily and applies exceptions for permits to employ foreign personnel, covering both partners 
  • Welcome Consultancy Service: The consultancy provides free assistance with:
    • Company establishment consultancy
    • Tax and legislation consultancy
    • Finding suitable office space
    • Connecting with mentors for guidance and support
    • Accessing government support programs in areas like R&D and marketing

  • Office Space Assistance: Assisting Startups in finding office space in technoparks.
  • Access to Turkey's Tech Visa Fund: Applicants may gain access to the fund, which provides financial support to Start-Ups in the Turkey Tech Visa Program
  • Access to Government Grants: Startups may qualify for government grants or funds. 
  • Tax Exemptions: Participating in a technopark under Tech Visa grants applicants access to various incentives such as exemptions on value-added tax, corporate tax, customs tax, staff premiums, etc.
  • Free Access to the Health System: The government will cover insurance premiums of the Start-Ups' staff. 

The government may still announce further changes to the Tech Visa. Temel hopes that "the government will publish the sub-legislation of the DNV and Tech Visa in a way that will not cause any problems in practice and leave no question marks in the minds of those concerned on fundamental issues."

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Ahmad Abbas AdministratorAuthorSubscriberParticipant
Director of Content Services , Investment Migration Insider

Ahmad Abbas is Director of Content Services at Investment Migration Insider and an 8-year veteran of the investment migration industry.

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