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Turkey: New citizenship rules to attract investors

Turkey has reduced required limits for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship to encourage investment, according to new regulations published in the country’s Official Gazette on Wednesday.

The lower limit of fixed capital investments to acquire Turkish citizenship for foreigners is reduced to $500,000 from $2 million.

Foreigners who own real estate in Turkey worth a minimum $250,000, instead of $1 million, can avail Turkish citizenship.

The deposit requirement of minimum $3 million in Turkish banks is also lowered to $500,000.

The regulation also covers foreigners who deposit a minimum of $3 million in Turkish banks. A similar regulation applies to those foreign investors who hold government-issued bonds worth at least $500 million which are not diversified for three years.

Foreigners who generate jobs for minimum 50 people, — previous requirement was 100 people — also will be able to take Turkish citizenship, the gazette said.

Vip Turkish Passport

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250 apply for Turkish citizenship through investment

Turkey has received over 250 applications for citizenship through investment worth nearly $100 million as of the end of 2018, according to the head of a mediation firm.

Citizenship applications to Turkey are expected to boom in 2019 as the country eased its conditions in September, Akın Atalay, CEO of VIPTurkishPass, told Anadolu Agency.

A significant amount of foreigners that come to Turkey aim to benefit from the right of citizenship by purchasing houses, he said.

The housing sector, which reached the income of $4.8 billion from foreigners in 2017, is expected to sell houses to foreigners worth $10 billion as of the end of 2018, he underlined.

Atalay said people from Arabic countries, Iran and Turkic republics show the most interest in buying real estate in Turkey, and underlined that there is also heavy demand from European countries, “contrary to popular belief”.

“Ten of thousands of British, German and Russian people have houses in Turkey. Most of them decide to have dual-citizenship when they see the social opportunities in Turkey,” Atalay stressed.

He also said foreigners are mostly interested in Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort city Antalya and industrial city Bursa.

Equal rights with Turkish citizens

The Interior Ministry responds to the citizenship application in 45 days if the documents are complete, Atalay said.

He noted that the naturalized Turkish citizens will have equal rights with the other Turkish citizens such as tax and insurance premium discounts as well as government support.

“Several countries from all around the world have similar citizenship programs to attract people with education, investments and entrepreneurship,” he highlighted, saying qualified work-force and high capital investments were basic factors for development.

“We want to bring people from all around the world to invest in our country and be a partner of our success story,” Atalay said, adding that Turkey tries to attract investments from foreign countries through the citizenship regulation.

He also said that foreigners should cooperate with a local expert and trusted partners as the application process is “sensitive”.

Atalay said the U.S. grants citizenship with an investment of $500,000 and a five-year wait; Germany with a €250,000 ($287,000) investment; Canada with an investment of $400,000 or $800,000 deposit; and Greece with a house purchase worth $250,000.

Turkey’s conditions are easier; foreigners can acquire the citizenship instantly by investing $250,000, he added.

Foreigners who invest $500,000 in Turkey, deposit $500,000 in Turkish banks or buy real estate worth $250,000 acquire the right of lifetime citizenship.

Foreigners who commit to keep their investments, deposits or real estates for at least three years earn the right for citizenship instantly.

Meanwhile, the right for citizenship can also be used for the families – spouse and children under 18 – of the investors.

Previously, these limits were $2 million for investment, $3 million for deposit and $1 million for real estate.

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Turkey cuts investment levels for citizenship, property sales seen boosted

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has slashed the financial and investment criteria for foreigners to become Turkish citizens, in a move expected to double annual property investment by foreigners to around $10 billion, according to sector officials.

The government has been taking measures to boost investment in the economy and shore up the lira, which has fallen 40 percent this year due to jitters about President Tayyip Erdogan’s sway over monetary policy and a row with the United States that has triggered reciprocal sanctions and trade curbs.

According to new regulations, foreigners can become citizens if they own property worth $250,000 for three years, down from a previous value set at $1 million, or if they hold $500,000 of Turkish debt for three years, down from a previous $3 million.

The reduction of the minimum limit to invest for citizenship is expected to double property sales and bring in cash which would otherwise be invested in Greece or other European Union countries, sector officials said.

Foreigners purchased $4.6 billion worth of properties last year, with a large proportion of them from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, according to official data.

“Annual sales of $10 billion is not an unrealistic amount; it can be achieved with the new regulation change,” Real Estate Investment Association (GYODER) Chair Feyzullah Yetgin said.

Turkish house sales dropped 12.5 percent year-on-year in August. However, property purchases by foreigners were up around 130 percent, focused mainly in Istanbul and holiday destination Antalya, data showed on Wednesday.

Turkey has introduced measures to tackle the slowdown in housing market including lowering mortgage loan rates by state-lenders and discounts by well-known property construction firms.

“A citizenship industry was created recently for example in Greece and Portugal. The competition may work well for Turkey now,” said Makbule Yonel Maya, the general manager of TSKB Real Estate Valuation.

Under the new rules, foreigners could qualify for Turkish citizenship if they meet any one of a series of criteria. The sharp reduction in the required foreign currency value applies to fixed capital investments and bank deposits, as well as for properties and bond holdings.

The amount of required fixed capital investment was reduced to $500,000 from $2 million and the size of bank deposits was cut to $500,000 from $3 million, the decision published on Official Gazette said.

It also halved the number of employees an applicant must employ to gain Turkish citizenship, to 50 from 100.