El Globero/El Globero Turco

Applying for residence permit in Turkey

Before applying for residence permit in Turkey (ikamet), I looked for information in the place where I search information for everything: Internet. There I have learnt how or where to do everything and the common problems I could have face. At the end it was really unhelpful and problematic to believe in what I have found. No matter it was official or unofficial pages. Most of them where outdated. And the others turned to be very inaccurate. Specially about procedures… Not so much about documentation.

If someone wants to apply for residence permit, or ikamet in Turkish, should visit this website, and apply online.  The first problem everyone will face now it is there is no available dates for an appointment, which is what we apply for in that page. I checked everyday for weeks and there was not any available date in more than 3 months. Only erasmus students received some extra dates… Even near the ikamet office there are people offering to find the appointment for you (paying them, of course). I guess this is because the system, that was modernized two years ago, is now overwhelmed by the big amount of migrants from neighbor countries in distress. I do not know if refugees apply through the same channel. But again, I guess, this problem was caused by those people offering themselves to find appointment dates and keep everyone for them.

As internet did not helped with this, it was a helpful friend who suggested me to try just after midnight. And at first try I succeeded. So this is like an event whose tickets are sold online and are likely to sold out in the first minutes.

I applied for a kind of ikamet that it is not usual. At least the personnel in the office were not used to deal with it and there was almost no information available about how to apply for it: I mean the ikamet for those who want to attend a turkish language course.  This category is somewhere between the student ikamet and the regular ikamet but it is a really good option. For regular ikamet you need to prove you are able to maintain yourself giving evidence or economic sustainability. Which is something more to deal with if you have the money (open an account in Turkey, transfer money, deal with exchange rates) and something tragic if you do not have the money they ask you to have. I won’t write here how much because I do not  know if the sources I found were reliable. If your are a student, you need to be a student at an university and give proof of your scholarship or exchange agreement. But if you apply for turkish language course you won’t need to have that money or being an exchange student. Of course you will need to attend Turkish course but that it is something you will benefit if you plan to stay in Turkey.

Beyond the documented evidence you are attending turkish language lessons, you only will need photos(4), photocopies or relevant pages of your passport, the visa you used to enter the country, a valid health insurance for the period you are applying for and a copy of a document of your place of residence, rent, hotel…  After making your appointment you will fill a file and you also will have to bring it to the meeting. When you finish to fill it, it tells you when it is your appointment and the documents you should bring. There it was written: «Notification regarding sufficient and sustanaible resources for the duration of the stay». But afterwards they did not asked for it but they did about my flat rental agreement that was not written there. Do not trust even official sources!

Other big problem I had was with the bank account. Afterwards I did not need it, but I did not know at that time and it is useful for other purposes.

As you will read everywhere in the net, the problem it is that they will ask you for the residence permit to open a bank account in Turkey and they ask you to have money in a turkish bank account to get the residence permit. This contradiction that comes to mock turkish bureaucracy solves as both affirmations are false.

It is possible to open a bank account in Turkey, being foreigner,  just with a tax number, which you can ask in your closest tax office. But some banks have the policy to not do so. Then, I read in many webs, banks do not have those policies, so you should try office by office until you find one with such nice personnel who will do it. The rest are just lazy bastards or ignorants that do not know how to do it. In comments sections, people desperated after trying in several offices, asked which bank, which office is that precious one. No answer.  As they explained to me in the big Garanti office of the cosmopolitan Taksim square the policy of the bank is not to open bank accounts without residence permit, then is useless to go office after office of Garanti bank, the answers will be the same everywhere. As it is with ING, Yapı Kredi or İS Bankası.   Again the answer was not on the net but the same helpful friend who knew someone with the same problem. Ziraat Bankası does it, they told me, and at first try I succeed.

With other requirements there is no problem. For health insurence you only need the tax number. And I made mine here online, but not sure if it is the best option.

Other problem about the delay on the appointment was that Turkey gives 90days long visas, if you want to stay longer you need the residence permit. But my appointment was long after the 3 months of the visa. There is no problem as they  extend your visa until your appointment date but, the doubt is what happen if you leave the country after your visa expires and before your appointment. No answer for that question, nobody would like to just discover in the airport trying to comeback.

About the place of the appointment, again, do not trust webpages, go where they told you to go. Although the address will look uncertain, once there it is easy to find the il göç idaresi (provincial migration management). They sent me to Fatih, once there they sent me back to Beşiktaş. I do not know if this some kind bureaucratic joke or they changed the system delivering applicants to neighborhood offices to unblock the main office, and they made that during the time I was waiting for my appointment. After taking two metros round trip I arrived to the good place. And here starts the most annoying part of the procedure…

As I saw in the central il göç idaresi everything was digitalized in numbered turns. Not in the neighbor office. You arrive to the 4th floor of a random office and you see some people here and there and many queueing after one door. Turkish queue: many people and no order. What people should do, but the one who arrives does not know, is to go through all that people, open the door and ask kinda coordinator for a number. Well, that depends on the hour and their mood, you may find the door closed with key, you can find none inside, they can tell you to go out or tell to come after lunch. I witnessed all of them while waiting. But most common was that the guy would give you a number to wait for your turn.

The problem was that there was no turn signal, they just screamed, not so loudly, your number, so you had to be careful. And there were three kind of persons. The ones who arrived first time with their appointment and receive a number. The ones who came back with their file and their missing documents. In fact everyone had to do that, because you had to go to tax office and pay the fee and comeback, even if you had everything else correct, with your fee receipt. For them there was not number, they have to wait around the door, mixed with those who were waiting their number. Time to time they called one with pink folder, the profile they give you on the first day. They called you or took many pink profiles and called them one by one or went out to check who were there or just made everyone to go out. They changed procedure several times while I was waiting. Third kind of persons were those who were there for other things. For example, one girl that was sent her id with a wrong picture. They just had to go through everyone and try to be attended. Just lucky if was not a moment they were kicking everyone out of there. Not so lucky was the girl who was locked inside the bathroom and her mother was kicked out of the room without even listen what she wanted to ask (20 minutes later they became aware of the situation and 30 minutes later took her out).

I do not mean they were bad people or acted without mercy. Just everything was so missorganized that they lost control time to time. People became nervous and every new person who arrived could not now how everything worked. So it was cyclic, time to time same scenes repeat one and another time. It was specially annoying the second day I went as I had to wait more than 3h for nothing. I was queueing around the door with my pink folder for more than an hour until finally was my turn. They just kicked out everyone before lunch time, everyone else but a young guy from Ghana and me. But when 12:00 arrived they closed and no one was attended. Not us, neither half ukrainian family they were already sitting and whose daughter was going to get locked in the bathroom afterwards. We waited one hour until the lunch break ended. Then, everything collapsed. A lot of new people arrived who found the place closed and did not know the «rules», the girl was locked inside the bathroom, everyone tryed to get to the door but no one was attending, everytime one of the employees went out was assaulted by multiple people willing to know, so they just run away, closed the door with key and made everything even worse.

When they opened tried to organize the numbers of the new arrived. Obviously with their caotic system it was not in order of arrival and not everyone was counted. After them, they took many pink folders and called one by one, mixed with the numbered ones. I gave my pink folder the first, but many were called before me. They started to call some people who already left. They should have organized better something that involves so many people from diferent cultures speaking diferent languages. It was a mess. After no one was left to call with a pink folder but me they called me. Before even sitting he told me: «No, you are already finish». They filed my folder without telling me. I just had to deliver the folder and leave, but they made me stand in a door for almost four hours.

I am waiting for my id, I hope it has my true photo on it.

I do not know why, but we can not trust internet for all this. Again my guess is people that work helping you with this procedures flooded the net with false information to force you to hire them. I was told even google.maps has some problems in Turkey because some places are missplaced by rivalry businesses. In fact, first time I went to Mecidiyeköy tax office I went to the wrong place because it is missplaced in google.maps.

Good luck for those who will try after me. I hope my experience is useful in any way.

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