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Overview of Turkey’s CBI programme

In September 2018 a Presidential Decree “Regulation on the Amendments to the Regulation on the Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law” was adopted, modifying the thresholds for investments with the aim of obtaining citizenship making it one of the cheapest on the market. In 2018, Turkey has received over 250 applications for citizenship by investment with a value of almost USD 100 million and the number of applications is likely to grow in 2019 as the changes introduced by the Presidential Decree are expected to make the programme more attractive since the minimum amounts for investment have significantly been reduced. Most investors come from Arabic countries, Iran and Turkic republics (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) as well as from Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Before the changes were made in the law in September 2018, the thresholds were substantial. The minimum for a fix capital investment was USD 2 million; the minimum for the purchase of real estate was USD 1 million; the number of jobs created had to be at least 100; and the minimum for the acquisition of government bonds was USD 3 million.

The new thresholds have significantly decreased to USD 500,000 for a fixed capital investment; USD 250,000 for the purchase of a real estate; the number of jobs that must be created is now only 50; and USD 500,000 for the acquisition of government bonds.

Additionally, foreign investors interested in acquiring Turkish citizenship can also do so by depositing at least USD 500,000 or equivalent foreign currency or Turkish lira in banks operating in Turkey. This option can be particularly appealing for investors as it can be made in USD and therefore reduces the hazard of investing in Turkish real estate. Finally, investors can also buy at least USD 500,000 worth of real estate investment fund share or venture capital investment fund share.

The right to citizenship is acquired immediately but the investment has to be kept for three years. The right to citizenship is also given to the investor’s spouse and children under 18. The procedure to acquire citizenship is straight forward. First the transaction is made then an initial permanent residence will be granted from the provincial immigration administration and finally the citizenship request has to be approved by the Civil Registration and Citizenship Directorate. It usually takes around 3-6 months to effectively get Turkish Citizenship and a Turkish passport but with the new law it could be ask quick as 60 days. The investor will have to visit Turkey once during the process but there is no residency requirement to access to citizenship. Turkey allows dual citizenship which can be an important advantage for investors who wish to stay and conduct business in their country of origin. Moreover, when acquiring citizenship by investment, the investor will be exempt from some duties normally linked to Turkish citizenship such as the mandatory military service.

Acquiring Turkish citizenship brings several advantages for third country national. The first advantage is that the Turkish passports allows for visa-free travel to 111 countries. It is important to note that there is no visa-free travel to the USA nor to the Schengen area, even though talks on this issue have been ongoing since several years. One of the main obstacle to visa-free travel to the EU is the recognition by Turkey of the Republic of Cyprus as an independent country.

Additionally, CBI recipients will not need to declare the assets or income that they have in other countries. Other benefits include free medical assistance, free education and access to pension schemes.

Author: Dr. Fanny Tittel-Mosser

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