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Turkish Businessperson Visa - ECAA

The 'Ankara Agreement' was formed in 1963 between Turkey and, as it was called at the time, the European Community' (EC). The purpose of the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) was to forge an association between the two entities, which would eventually lead to the full accession of Turkey. It led to cooperation on, among a range of matters, the movement of workers. As part of this arrangement, the UK implemented a Turkish Businessperson visa, one of the many benefits of which being that it is free. Applicants can also switch into this visa from another category, extend their stay when their visa expires, and bring dependant family members to the UK with them.

It is, however, unclear whether the Turkish businessperson visa will continue to exist at the start of 2021, as the UK will no longer be a party to the Ankara Agreement. It is important to act quickly if you are considering this route to set up business in the UK.

Am I Eligible For The Turkish Businessperson Visa?

In order to be eligible for the Turkish businessperson visa (TVB), you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a Turkish national
  • You have a genuine intention to set up a viable business
  • You have sufficient funds to establish your business
  • You can pay your share of the costs of running the business
  • Your share of the business's profits will be enough to support you and your family without your needing to have another job
  • You intend to become a sole trader, director of a limited company, or enter into a legal business partnership

If you are planning to invest in an existing business partnership or company rather than creating a new business entity, you will need to prove to the UK Home Office that you intend to have an active part in running the business and that there is a genuine need for your services and investment.

What Is The Difference Between The TVB And Innovator Or Investor Visas?

One notable difference between the TVB and the innovator visa is that the former does not require endorsement by an endorsing body (you will still need to prepare and submit a detailed business plan). In addition, whereas under the innovator and investor visas you cannot invest in an existing business, you can with the TVB, and, furthermore, there is no restriction on the type of business. These benefits mean that the TVB is less restrictive than the newer visa variants.

What Evidence Will I Need To Submit As Part Of My Application For A TVB?

The Home Office requires that you submit the following information/evidence as part of your application:

  • a valid passport
  • proof you can support and house yourself and your dependents during your stay
  • proof of your living costs - this may include a tenancy agreement, mortgage agreement, utility bills, council tax statement, bank statements, documents relating to the transfer of money to relatives abroad
  • proof of state benefits you've received in the UK (if applicable)
  • your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you're from a country where you have to take the test
  • a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

The Home Office also advise that they may request a police certificate for yourself and your family after you arrive in the UK.

In terms of the business you intend to create or join, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Evidence you are in the process of planning, setting up or running your business, in the form of (whichever is appropriate):
    • a business plan
    • documents for your business premises
    • partnership agreements
    • insurance documents
    • business accounts prepared by a chartered accountant or approved by an auditor
    • Relevant HRMC tax documents (including evidence of payment)
    • qualifications for running the business, such as relevant formal qualifications or evidence of previous relevant experience
    • evidence of your finances and your investment in the business, such as the UK or overseas bank statements, overseas money transfers, and bank loans
    • evidence of any financial assistance from a third party (for example family member), such as bank statements or other financial documents as evidence of their finances, and a legal or other document confirming their involvement in and share of the business
    • a document setting out the terms of your involvement in the business

The more relevant supporting documents you can provide as part of your application, the greater the chance that you will satisfy all of the requirements for a TBV without the need to provide additional proof.

How Do I Apply For A Turkish Businessperson Visa?

The application process for a TBC is completed online, however, you will also need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre to have your biometric information was taken (a photograph and fingerprints).

As part of the application process, you will also be able to add your partner and any dependant children (under the age of 21). When applying for your family members, you will also need to submit:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Two passport size colour photographs
  • proof of your relationship, for example, a marriage certificate, evidence that you live together, birth certificate
  • proof they will live permanently with you
  • proof that you have sole responsibility for any dependants aged under 21 if the other parent will not be in the UK, for example, written permission or relevant legal documents
  • proof that you can support and house yourself and your dependents during your stay, for example, bank statements or payslips for the last six months
  • their tuberculosis test results if they're from a country where you have to take the test

If your TBV is successful, you will typically be given leave to remain for one year, after which you can apply to extend your visa for a further three years assuming you can prove that you are continuing to grow and make a success of your business. After a continuous period of five years in the UK, you should then be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which will allow you and your family to remain permanently free of immigration control.

Final words

When the UK exits the transition arrangement with the EU at the end of 2021, it is unclear whether the TBV will remain in place. Given that the Ankara Agreement will hold no sway in the UK as we will have fully left the EU, there is every chance that this visa scheme will cease to exist. Turkish nationals currently in the UK are unlikely to be affected, but those who are planning to come in 2021 may need to consider another business immigration route, including the innovator, investor, start-up, or tier 2 work visas. If you are unsure of the best option to choose, contact an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise.

Related Articles:

Turkish Citizens Rights under the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA)

How to Get UK Citizenship by Investment

Guide For Foreign Entrepreneurs On Starting A Business In The UK

UK Business and Investment Opportunities Post Coronavirus

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