Coming to Turkey as a Student (Immigration/Visas)

Turkey has only recently embraced the idea of the international student. There aren't many Western students in Turkey, but its high reputation in the region is well deserved - and it's not overly difficult to get the paperwork to study there.

Introduction

Turkish schools (primary & secondary education) and its colleges and universities (tertiary education) are of high quality and relatively cheap. Most international students come to Turkey from Western China (the Xinjiang Uyghur region, where Turkish is spoken) and other Turkic countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There are very few Western students in Turkey specifically for the purposes of education.

The main category of international students is the children of people resident in Turkey, who are treated in the same way as local students and so not considered further here. There are also international schools, where teaching is in a foreign language.

To study in Turkey, a foreigner needs a student visa and a student resident permit.

Student visas in Turkey

Foreigners can only apply for a Turkish student visa after they’ve been accepted by a Turkish educational institution certified by the Ministry of Education – whether that’s a school, university or language course.

A student applicant, according to the Turkish consular website for the UK, will need:

  1. A completed visa application form (www.visa.gov.tr) (fill it in using capital letters)
  2. A passport valid for at least 60 days past the intended end of your stay. The passport must have at least two blank pages
  3. An e-visa; a visa exemption; or a residence permit
  4. A passport-style photograph
  5. An acceptance letter from the educational institution (one certified by the Ministry of Education) you will be attending
  6. If you’re coming to Turkey as an exchange student, a confirmation letter from your school in the UK
  7. Non-British Citizens applying from the UK also need a one-year (minimum) valid residence permit for the UK
  8. Your most recent two months’ bank statements showing a reasonable amount of savings (at least £3,000 for six months’ stay)
  9. If you have a sponsor: a sponsor letter, the sponsor’s bank statements and a copy of his/her passport
  10. Accommodation details, if available

Similar requirements will apply in other countries.

Duration of visa and fees (2017)

These are again quoted from the Turkish consulate in the UK and will differ somewhat from country to country. The figures will be on the website for your country.

  • Student visa – up to six months – £95
  • Student visa – over six months – £348
  • Language course – up to 11 months – £181

Will a student visa also allow your spouse or children to live in Turkey?

No. Your student visa permits you to enter Turkey for the purpose of studying.

However, to live in Turkey, you also need a residence permit. This applies equally to your wife and children. If you are a student in Turkey, then there should be no problem obtaining a residence permit; and if you obtain a residence permit for yourself there should be no problem with your spouse or dependent children also obtaining permission to live with you, provided you meet the test for a Family Residence Permit. See our Guide to Joining Your Family in Turkey.

Can a student work in Turkey?

Foreign students can legally work in Turkey after obtaining a Student Residence Permit. However, foreign students who are enrolled in undergraduate or two-year associate programmes can start working in Turkey only after completing their first year of study. Students who are enrolled in two-year associate programmes may not exceed 24 working hours per week.

How long does it take to get a Turkish student visa?

Obtaining a student visa should take about 90 days if done via the consulate – but only 24 hours if done online, provided that your application has been properly completed, and all of your documents are in order when they’re finally presented.

Student Residence Permits in Turkey

Student Residence Permits are granted to foreigners who will be enrolled to graduate, undergraduate or two-year associate programs in licenced Turkish higher education institutions. The period of student residence permit cannot exceed the duration of education.

Foreigners who wish to study in primary or secondary education facilities can be granted Student Residence Permits for a maximum of one year (renewable).

Both groups must apply within one month of entering Turkey.

Applications from foreigners who are subject to deportation or entry ban decisions will be rejected.

Student Residence Permits do not grant any residence rights to parents or other relatives.

Foreign students can legally work in Turkey after obtaining a Student Residence Permit. However, foreign students who are enrolled in undergraduate or two-year associate programs can start working in Turkey only after completing their first year of study. Students who are enrolled in two-year associate programs may not exceed 24 working hours per week.

Those applying for a Student Residence Permit for the first time should have:

  • A student visa, obtained from the Turkish consulate in their home countries
  • Residence Permit application form
  • Tax number (obtained from the tax office)
  • Four passport-size photos
  • Original passport and photocopies of the following pages of the passport: the page bearing the applicant’s photo, the page stamped at the last entry, the page indicating the validity and expiry dates and the page bearing the student visa obtained from consulate.
  • Valid and updated student enrolment certificate obtained from the Turkish school, college or university
  • A bank statement showing sufficient funds to support the student during his stay in Turkey OR a letter of undertaking from his parents OR, if available, scholarship documents.
  • For students under 18 years old, a deed of consent from their parents. The deed of consent should be translated into Turkish, notarized and Apostilled.
  • Proof of valid health insurance – any of:
    • A document that shows the student is entitled to benefit from the health services in Turkey under a bilateral social security agreement
    • The certificate of cover received from the Social Security Institution
    • Proof of an application made for general health insurance to the Social Security Institution
    • Proof of adequate private health insurance

Video guides to visas/residence permits for Turkey

You can learn about immigration and visas in Turkey by watching our series of video interviews with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun. You can also read our other written immigration guides for Turkey.

 

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