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.
In order to be eligible for the Turkish businessperson visa (TVB), you will need to meet the following criteria:
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.
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.
The Home Office requires that you submit the following information/evidence as part of your application:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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