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Turkish Citizens

ECAA - European Community Association Agreement with Turkey (Ankara Agreement)

The European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) with Turkey allows Turkish nationals to enter the UK and establish themselves as self-employed businesspeople, i.e. run their own businesses.

Article 13 of the ECAA (also known as the Ankara Agreement) removed restrictions relating to the freedom of establishment, allowing Turkish nationals to establish themselves and provide a service to others. Article 41 of the Additional Protocol to the Turkish ECAA, known as the “standstill clause”,is a supplement to Article 13 of the ECAA. This clause allows Turkish nationals wanting to enter the UK or who are seeking leave to have their applications evaluated under the domestic rules that were in force when the UK joined the EU in 1973. The result of this is that all applications are treated the same and identical rules are applied for all applications.

A leading European Court of Justice case, Tum and Dari v Secretary of State for the Home Department C-16/05, held that EU member states who are party to the Ankara Agreement are prevented from imposing any new limitations on the exercising of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. This was applicable to the first admission of Turkish nationals into the UK. However, there is an exception to this: the applicant cannot benefit from the standstill clause if fraud/abuse has taken place. Such an application will be subject to any relevant current rules and the application will generally be submitted under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, or on general grounds for refusal, where applicable.

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Entry Clearance / Leave to Remain

An applicant can apply for either entry clearance or leave to remain, depending on whether they are already in the UK or intend to enter the UK from another country. An initial period of 12 months from the date of the decision is usually granted for those applicants who are able to prove that they have the sincere intention and required resources to establish a business in the UK.
If the leave is granted under the After Entry 1973 provisions, the applicant will normally apply for an extension of stay if they have satisfied the relevant provisions. The extension will usually last three years.

After having run the business for four years, the businessperson may apply for indefinite leave to remain. This would permit them to settle in the UK and continue with the running of their business. After 12 months under this status, it is possible for the individual to apply for UK nationality.

Family Members

The family members of self-employed Turkish ECAA individuals can also submit an application to join their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner, or parent (if the applicant is under 18 at the time of application) in the UK. A dependant can put forward an application with the original applicant or separately by submitting an independent application. A dependant submitting a separate application must satisfy all the requirements necessary to live with the person in the UK and must be lawfully in the UK when making their application. Otherwise, they face the possibility of being penalised.

Dependants are also allowed to apply for the right to settle in the UK.