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Turkey - Visa etc.

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Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 78

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:40 pm    Post subject: Turkey - Visa etc. Reply with quote


I've been offered a job in Istanbul. The salary is ok and the school similarly has an acceptable reputation.

Problem is the school won't offer a work visa, only a residency visa. I understand this is pretty common practice in Turkey. However Im interested in the potential risks of working illegally.

Also, what's it like starting up as a teacher in Istanbul?

Thanks Smile
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Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's common practice for private language schools in Turkey's three largest cities. (They wouldn't even bother with residency permits until they started losing teachers who weren't allowed back in after visa runs.)

Primary schools, secondary schools, and unis anywhere almost always get a proper work permit (since they need to be certified by YK). Language schools outside of Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir (and possibly Bursa) usually get a work permit, though there are still many exceptions. I've assumed that this is since a. expats are generally rarer, except on the southwest coast, b. expats outside those main cities are less likely to be casually in Turkey and less likely to do a runner, and c. the risk of deportation is higher (especially on the southwest coast. Most of the deportation stories I've heard come from Antalya and Muğla provinces.)

Potentially risks of working illegally in Istanbul:

1. If you really piss off a Turk with connections, they can get you deported (I only know of one case of this happening, and it's a FOAF story).
2. Your legal protection is limited, when it comes to dealing with landlords and whatnot.
3. You're not insured by the Turkish public medical insurance system.
4. In my case, I'd like to eventually end up with the American Foreign Service, and violating another country's immigration laws is likely to be a serious black mark if not an outright qualification.

That's really all I know, and you have the benefit of being able to walk away at any time. As one particularly honest school explained to me, I'd be fined up to 6,000 lira for working illegally (the fines vary of course) they'd be fined 12,000 lira for hiring an illegal worker, so we'd really just have to trust each other. (I trusted him more after that, but still didn't take the job because I decided I wasn't that into Istanbul anymore by the time I got the offer.) On the other hand I know that some schools won't bother with a work permit but will pretend that the contract is enforceable.

As for starting up as a teacher, that depends. I usually see people advising to bring at least anywhere from 3,000 USD to 5,000 GBP. If you've got a good employer, you can get sorted out on less than 1k USD. I spoke with some coworkers at Istanbul branches of my school who only brought something like 700 and 500 respectively. But one speaks Turkish and has Turkish connections from a previous visit, while one was incredibly lucky and got an room and board in a posh neighborhood in exchange for English lessons, (which probably saves him about upwards of 1k lira/month). And since most employers aren't particularly helpful, you may want to bring as much as you can.

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Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 251
Location: N Turkey

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject: No visa Reply with quote

FYI If you don't have a work permit, you have to tread very carefully with everyone you talk to, not just Turks with connections.
OK, the following didn't happen to a teacher, but it makes you think: A farm worker with a grudge recently reported one of my foreign neighbours to the police and two hours later he was deported back to his home country (after being here for over 10 years doing visa runs).
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Joined: 11 Jun 2011
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somewhat related question...

I recently got a job offer to teach an an anaokul in Istanbul. The hours are long but the pay is good, but it is literally a class of 2 year olds. I was always thinking to teach temporarily while looking and networking for corporate jobs in my fields (which would provide a work permit). I am still currently waiting for my first residency permit application, and while I have many leads in my networking and I think something will devleop into a position for me, I can't tell if it will be a few weeks or a few months... And since my residency permit application isn't until the end of november (darn waiting time!!!) I know work permit might be a hassle to obtain and take a while even if I do find a job. So in the meantime I was going to accept this offer to teach.

The school is not offering a work permit or even help with my residency, which is fine with me because I want to be able to leave at any time if something better comes along! BUT, the principal just mentioned he wants me to sign a contract, and he has stressed and asked multiple times that he expects me to stay a full school year until June. Unless I end up loving this job I doubt that will happen, but of course I said sure and that I would sign, because I believe without a work permit it is not enforceable. BUT, do you think I will be at all at risk of him seeking some kind of retribution or reporting me if I do leave and break the contract? I know he can get in trouble as well, but just wondering what you think? If there is a risk I would rather not do it or delay signing. I'm really a very responsible and hardworking person and will try to be a good teacher and employee, but for my own future and mental health if I hate it or get something better I need to be able to leave the job without fear before June! I'm sure you can understand.

Thanks! Very Happy
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Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15266

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a legal sytem based on Roman Law (as in the Turkish Republic) a contract which involves an illegal act is a nullity. It is simply NOT VALID.
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