Turkish Businessperson Visa and Extension Guidance (ECAA Visa)
The Turkish Businessperson Visa (ECAA visa) closed to new applications at the end of 2020 when the UK left the EU. However, it is still possible for holders of this visa to apply for an extension. In this article, we will explain the purpose of the Turkish Businessperson visa, who can apply for an extension, the requirements for an extension, and the rules on bringing dependant family members to the UK.
What is the Turkish Businessperson visa?
The Turkish Businessperson visa (ECAA visa) allows Turkish nationals over the age of 18 to come to the UK to establish a new business or run an existing business. The ECAA Turkish businessperson visa was put in place because of the Turkish European Community Association Agreement (ECAA), also referred to as the “Ankara Agreement”.
The Ankara Agreement was formed in 1967 to mark cooperation between the European Community (EC) (now the EU) and Turkey. When the UK joined the EC, it was legally required to meet the terms of this agreement. Under the Ankara agreement, Turkish nationals could start a new business or run an existing business in the UK.
While the Turkish Businessperson visa is closed to new applications, it is possible for Turkish nationals to apply for other visa types, including the Start-up visa or Innovator visa. Both of these visas enable overseas nationals with a genuinely innovative business idea to come to the UK to establish a new enterprise.
If you are a Turkish businessperson interested in setting up a business in the UK, we can discuss the options available to you. Speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who can apply for a Turkish Businessperson visa extension?
You can apply for a Turkish Businessperson visa extension if you already hold a valid (i.e. not expired) Turkish Businessperson visa and:
- You are in the UK
- You intend to continue running the business you established in the UK, start another one, or continue to help run an existing business here
The Turkish Businessperson visa can be extended for up to 3 years, and you can do this as many times as you wish, as long as you remain eligible.
Requirements for Turkish Businessperson visa extension
The eligibility requirements for a Turkish Businessperson visa extension state that applicants must:
- hold a valid Turkish Businessperson visa that has not yet expired
- not have breached any immigration laws while in the UK
- still, be running a business, and this must still be viable
- be able to pay their share of the costs of running the business
- be able to show that their share of the profits is still sufficient to support themselves and their dependant family members without needing another job
- not be in “disguised employment”
Viable business requirement
According to the Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay guidance1, a viable business is one that, according to the financial statements, can continue to make money. To make this assessment, the Home Office will look at the financial health of the business, including the business turnover and net profit, and the balance sheet showing the financial position of the business. There is no fixed amount of money that must be made to have a viable business, and the Home Office will make a decision on viability on a case-by-case basis.
Share of liabilities requirements
According to ECAA guidance section 4.2 (c), applicants must be able to show they can still meet their share of any business liabilities, including debts. This may include liabilities incurred while running the business. The Home Office will look at the finances of the business and the Balance Sheet to make this decision, including:
- the value of any fixed assets (such as land, buildings, and equipment)
- the current assets of the business (stock and work in progress)
- any short-term debts owing
- profit made in the last year
The Turkish businessperson visa guidance states that the Home Office case officer must look at the amount of any debt owed and compare this to the overall value of the business and whether the business is likely to clear the debts or liabilities using the profits made in the following years.
Under the ECAA visa extension application rule 4.2 (e), applicants must be able to show that enough profit is being made from the business to maintain and accommodate themselves (including any dependants) without the need to seek other employment or apply for public funds.
The Home Office will want to be assured that the applicant is in self-employment, not working as an employee. To do this, they will look at certain indicators, such as how much control the applicant has over the business.
Turkish Businessperson visa extension documents checklist
According to the ECAA guidance, to make a successful ECAA application, you will need to provide several documents to the Home Office, including (please note this list is not exhaustive):
- your current valid passport
- proof that you can support and accommodate yourself and any dependants – you will normally need to provide 6 months’ worth of bank statements or payslips
- evidence of your current living costs – this might include:
- tenancy agreement
- mortgage agreement
- utility bills
- council tax statement
- bank statements
- your current biometric residence permit showing your Turkish Businessperson visa
- proof you are still running your business, such as:
- insurance documents
- business accounts
- HMRC tax documents
- evidence of your investment in the business
- a document explaining your involvement in the business
- a business plan
- evidence you are investing money of your own into a new business
- documents for your business premises such as a commercial lease
- partnership agreements
Can my dependants apply for a visa extension at the same time?
Your partner and children can apply for a visa extension at the same as you if they hold a valid dependant family member visa. This means that if their extension application is successful, it will be granted for the same duration as your extension. To be eligible for an extension:
- Your dependants must still be in the UK with you
- Your partner must still be in a genuine relationship with you
- Your children must still be dependant on you (i.e. not married or living an independent life)
To discuss the eligibility of your partner and children for a visa extension, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at email@example.com.
Applying for ILR after Turkish Businessperson ECAA visa extension
Turkish Businessperson visa holders can apply to settle permanently (also known as indefinite leave to remain or ILR) if they have been living here continuously for a period of at least 5 years. Applicants must meet the English language requirements and pass the Life in the UK Test to make an ILR application. Holding ILR means you and your family will be no longer subject to immigration control and can apply for British citizenship after a further 12 months.
Turkish Businessperson visa extension refused
You can appeal a refused Turkish Businessperson visa extension if you believe that a mistake was made by the Home Office when making the decision. Turkish Businessperson visa extension applications may be refused on the basis of:
- No longer having a viable business
- Being in “disguised employment”
- Breaching the immigration rules (including any criminality)
- Not providing all of the documents and information required by the Home Office
- Not paying the required application fees
- Mistakes made on the application
- Providing false information on your application
- If it would not be conducive to the public good to grant your extension
- If you have debts owed to the NHS
- Any involvement in a non-genuine relationship or sham marriage
Your options in the event of a refusal of your application may include:
- Applying for an administrative review if a mistake was made by the Home Office
- Applying for a judicial review to challenge the legal basis for the decision
- Submit a fresh application
- Apply for a different type of visa – these may include the following:
Given the range of visas available, it is advisable to speak to an immigration solicitor who can explain options open to you and your family, to meet your immediate and long-term needs. Please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 GOV.UK: Appendix for ECAA extension