• Rank: 38 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 25
  • HEALTH 32

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Country with long history of emigration and immigration and today a major hub for mixed flows of asylum-seekers, irregular migrants, and migrant workers
  • The number of foreign citizens recorded in TU rose from 100,000 in 2008 to 275,000 in 2013 according to statistics reported by TU to Eurostat
  • The number of registered SY refugees rose according to UNHCR from 175,000 in Jan. 2013 to 560,000 in Jan. 2014 to >1.5 million in Jan. 2015 (50% women, >50% children, ≈4% aged 60+); Halfway through 2015, UNHCR only received 17% of its 2015 funding appeal ($500 million gap)
  • Lowest overall employment rate among MIPEX countries (53% in 2014, similar to GR) 
  • Like GR, the majority of TU citizens are increasingly negative towards immigrants linked to the refugee crisis, due to perceived effects on wages and rents

Changes in policy

Reform of TU's asylum and migration policies is now less about relations and accession to the EU and more about the future of the now 1.7 million registered SY refugees living in TU, projected to reach 2.5 by end 2015. TU is now the largest host country of refugees in the world, with just 250,000 in 25 refugee camps and the rest in cities across the country. TU is currently the only one of the 38 MIPEX countries that signed and ratified the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of their Families. 

After years of discussion, Law 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection was passed by the Turkish Parliament in 2013 and welcomed by the UN and EU. Maintaining the geographical limitation, the law does create basic procedures for international protection, work permits, and residence permits. TU is one of the few countries in the world maintaining the geographical limitation of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to only European asylum seekers. 

Under Law 6458's Article 96, the mutual ‘adaptation’ of immigrants and society is supposed to be facilitated through courses and information campaigns, depending on available funds and stakeholders’ recommendations. A Migration Policies Board within the Interior Ministry is supposed to draft new migration strategies, determine and monitor implementation, and carry out mutual adaptation activities. 

Conclusions and recommendations

Even after passage of the Law 6458 (only +1 point in MIPEX), TU's legal framework is unfavourable for integration and ranks below the other MIPEX countries, scoring only 25-out-of-100 points. Immigrant workers and their families have restricted rights and little-to-no state support. The policies are unfavourable for labour market mobility, education, and political participation, even compared to other new countries of immigration in Central and Southeastern Europe. TU also has the weakest protections against discrimination because a dedicated anti-discrimination law and agency are still lacking and pending approval by Parliament. The country’s relative strength, family reunion, is still incompatible with EU law and weak compared to laws in most MIPEX countries. Settled immigrants face not only a slightly unfavourable path to citizenship, as in several new countries of immigration, but also one of the least favourable paths to simply a long-term residence permit, far below EU standards. While Law 6458 improved transparency and the rule-of-law, the new family reunion and long-term residence statuses generally formalised existing practices, including new rights, but also new requirements. The new Migration Policies Board still has to create national adaptation strategies and programmes and determine the conditions for long-term residence.


Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

TU has the longest way to go of all MIPEX countries to open access to the labour market in the first place and guarantee equal rights for migrant workers

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

TU sets unfavourable conditions for labour market mobility, far below international and EU standards as well as the policies in the other MIPEX countries. Most legal migrant workers are tied to their employer, without equal rights as workers and without any general or targeted support to improve their job or skills. Temporary workers and their families must wait years before they can freely change employers and sectors, which is allowed in other countries attracting labour migration. No labour market adaptation programmes have yet been adopted. More broadly in Europe, equal access to education, vocational training, and public employment services are guaranteed in most countries’ legislation and under EU law.

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Critically limited access to labour market in TU, as in only CY and SK out of 37 other MIPEX countries
  • Temporary work permits significantly more accessible than indefinite permit for all types of migrants
  • Only those with long term residence and special permission have access to self-employment (unlike the trend in both old and new countries of immigration)
  • Only foreigners with special expertise can have employment in public sector, that is on a temporary basis only

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Basic access to general support in TU, though weaker than 30 out of 38 countries (like AT)
  • Migrants are excluded from vocational training for which national ID is obligatory
  • Public employment agency is accessible only to long term residents, unlike in most countries
  • A more positive policy to attract highly skilled: All types of migrants can apply for grants and scholarships
  • Recognition of skills and validation of qualification policies still underdeveloped

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • ​Targeted support very weak in general compared to other MIPEX countries
  • No active measures taken to make sure that foreigners are aware of their rights, except for procedures to recognise foreign qualifications
  • Most targeted policies are very new and limited to Western Europe (e.g. job-specific language training, recognition/work placement for university educated, peer-to-peer mentoring)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • TU is the only country with critically unequal rights for migrant workers (even more restrictive than CY)
  • Access to trade unions, social security and housing is extremely limited
  • Bilateral agreements determine migrants’ access to social security
  • No clear job security for those with temporary work permit; Only long term residents have the same rights as TU citizens

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Families have some chances to reunite in TU, but a less secure future and fewer opportunities to integrate than on average in Europe

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Family reunion still remains a rather discretionary favour of the state —and not a right, as it is in EU law. The procedure is slightly discretionary, as authorities possess several grounds for rejection and withdrawal, without time limits, individual assessment, or legal guarantees and redress required by EU law and most MIPEX countries’ laws. Reunited family members enjoy slightly more favourable residence rights thanks to Law 6458. After three years, all adult family members can apply for short-term residence permits autonomous of their sponsor. The major gap in rights is that reunited family members are not explicitly guaranteed the same rights as their sponsor to employment, self-employment, education and training. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Under a slightly inclusive definition of the family better than most in Europe, a legal resident can apply for a spouse, minor and adult children, as well as for their parents under certain conditions
  • Migrants with any type of permit in TU are eligible for family reunion after one year
  • Reunion with parents is conditional on the permit holders’ financial capacity to take care of the family member
  • Legal residents can be reunited with their spouse, but not a same-sex partner (unlike 26 countries) or long-term partner (unlike 17) 

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • More equitable requirements for families to reunite in TU than on average in Europe
  • Law 6458 introduced two more restrictive conditions for family reunion similar to most European countries: basic requirements on housing and income related to the minimum wage
  • The cost of application is relatively low 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Families are kept insecure about whether TU will be their future home, more so than any other MIPEX country except LV (see instead IT, PT, ES)
  • Their permit can only be valid for periods of maximum two years (equal to sponsors in 19 other countries)
  • Personal circumstances are not considered when refusing or withdrawing a permit
  • If rejected, migrants need to appeal the decision and go to court to learn the reasons of rejection, with weaker legal guarantees than in most countries

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Reunited spouses and families have fewer legal opportunities to invest in their integration in TU than in nearly all other MIPEX countries (except HU and IE, see instead IT, PT, ES)
  • Under certain conditions, upon request family members over the age of 18 may replace their family residence permits, but with only short-term residence permits 
  • Special provisions protect families’ residence in case their sponsor dies, although provisions in case of divorce are restricted to spouses of only TU citizens
  • Access to education, training, employment, self-employment and housing remains very limited, but family migrants can make use of social benefits in the same way as their sponsor


Key Findings

TU limits immigrant children's access to schools and provides hardly any targeted support to migrant children or to intercultural education

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

TU obtained the lowest score on education policies along with BG compared to other MIPEX countries, most of which provide basic integration programmes for immigrant pupils. Firstly, legal access to education is wholly unfavourable for foreign pupils in TU. The children of legally-resident foreigners, asylum-seekers, and refugees are guaranteed the right to at least compulsory education. Beyond issues of legal access, immigrant pupils can access what general support exists for disadvantaged students. But if they have different needs than peers with similar social backgrounds (e.g. newcomers or those with limited knowledge of TU) they are not entitled to targeted support. No nation-wide policy has been developed to implement the general guidelines from the Education Ministry. Without clear requirements, schools are not prepared to address new needs and opportunities, and pupils do not get the support they need throughout their school career. Furthermore the state does little through its policies and guidance to implement intercultural education in schools, besides a passing reference in the Citizenship, Democracy and Human Rights courses to diversity and discrimination against migrants.

Dimension 1: Access

  • Children of foreigners with legal residence permit have the same access to education as nationals
  • Children of asylum seekers and refugees might have some chance to attend primary schools via some administrative decisions in some provinces 
  • No standardised criteria exist to assess migrants’ prior learning and language skills
  • Unlike in TU, undocumented pupils can access some level of higher education in 16 other countries
  • No targeted support exists to help legal migrants’ children to access vocational training and higher education

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Extra support to learn TU is not available in all provinces (weak in only 5 countries)
  • Schools do not receive targeted funding, professional support or training to respond to migrant children’s special needs (see 24 other countries)

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Immigrant communities are not assisted to teach their children about their languages and cultures, unlike in most countries
  • No attempts to counter segregation, to support migrant parents and communities and to bring migrants into the teaching force, which are also weaknesses in most countries of immigration

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Only a general discourse of a call for respect for intercultural diversity and human rights in primary school 
  • TU so far has not supported information initiatives or adapted curriculum to reflect diversity or daily school life to presence of migrant children


Key Findings

TU has achieved extensive health coverage for asylum seekers similar to TU citizens, but the overall response of the health care system remains very weak in TU like in most Central and Southeast European countries

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

In TU, migrants' entitlements to health services are slightly more positive than elsewhere, since law 5510 includes asylum-seekers and persons with International Protection Application within the General Health Insurance coverage. They are covered by the same system as TU citizens with the same supplementary or additional payments as citizens. In contrast, short-term residents need private insurance and undocumented migrants are not covered by the same system as nationals. They do not have any legal status and therefore do not have access to the same system. Moreover, there is no systematic approach or programme to inform service providers and their employees about these entitlements. The dissemination of information usually takes place through various methods on ad hoc basis. The language barrier is a main reason why migrants cannot utilize health services, especially outside of camps. There are no interpreters or any requirements to recruit interpreters at state and private health facilities, with most healthcare professionals speaking only the TU language.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Legal migrants with short-term residence permits must have private health insurance
  • Asylum seekers are covered by the same system as nationals with the same supplementary or additional payments like TU citizens (similar to FR, with GR, RO, AT and CZ not far behind)
  • Undocumented migrants are not entitled to any services, not even emergency care with limited exceptions for infectious diseases and pre- and post-natal care (similar to only 8 other countries, e.g. BG)

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Relatively weak policies to facilitate access in TU, ranked 32nd
  • No regular information exists for service providers about migrants’ entitlements
  • Various methods of dissemination exist for migrants in just a few languages about information of their entitlements, use of health services and health education 
  • Cultural mediators do not exist to facilitate access to health services, unlike in 18 countries

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Health services are non-responsive to the specific health/access needs of migrant patients in TU, a problem across Central and Southeast Europe
  • Interpreters are hardly available for migrant patients, unlike in 14 countries (traditional destinations and Western Europe)
  • No specific training nor requirement for cultural diversity exist for health service staff

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • The ad hoc policies introduced specifically for SY refugees, with ad hoc participation of migration and health stakeholders

Political Participation

Key Findings

Non-TU citizens are almost completely excluded from public life

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Non-EU citizens are excluded from political participation in TU. Their basic political liberties are slightly unfavourable. Foreigners cannot join political parties and cannot have their own associations or media unless one of the directors is a TU citizen national. Consultative bodies and implementation policies are also generally unfavourable in Turkey. So far there is no national policy of support or information on immigrants’ political participation. The new law 6458 created a Migration Advisory Board with governments, experts, international actors, and NGOs, but without any immigrant representatives. 

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Non-TU citizens cannot vote or stand in any elections, unlike in 21 other countries

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Non-TU citizens have the right to association but at least one board member should be a TU citizens
  • They are not allowed to become members of political parties
  • In contrast, equal political liberties are guaranteed in most MIPEX countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • No consultation exists on the national, regional or capital level
  • Foreign Citizens’ Councils are underdeveloped and weak
  • In contrast, immigrants can be consulted through local consultative bodies in 24 MIPEX countries, national bodies in only 13, including new destination countries (e.g. GR, IT, PT, ES)

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Implementation policies in Turkey are extremely weak, no state funding for immigrant associations at the national, regional or local level

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

With the most restrictive access to long-term residents, TU most often delays and excludes immigrants from becoming long-term residents and enjoying secure and equal rights to invest in their integration

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Immigrants still face one of most exclusive, long and discretionary paths to long-term residence in TU, far below EU standards. Although Law 6458 created one clear status and procedure, the Migration Policies Board still must determine the conditions for long-term residence. The eligibility provisions are barely halfway favourable. Most critically, all humanitarian migrants are excluded. The rest must wait through 8 years of uninterrupted legal residence, which is longer than in any other MIPEX country (5 years under EU law). The status is also generally insecure and the rights are poorly defined. These restrictions and delays leave them without the secure status and equal rights to invest in their integration in TU.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Eligibility conditions in TU are very restrictive, unlike the vast majority of countries
  • The law excludes refugees, conditional refugees, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection or temporary protection and humanitarian migrants, contrary to EU standards
  • Others must be able to prove 8 years of uninterrupted legal residence, with little clarity on the tolerated periods of absence (the wait is longer in only JP and CH and standard is 5 years in EU)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The current conditions are slightly unfavourable
  • Applicants must prove not only sufficient and regular resources, but also no use of any kind of social assistance in the past three years, contrary to EU law (any basic legal income is sufficient in 26 other countries)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • The reasons for rejection and withdrawal of long-term residence remain vague and discretionary
  • Long-term residents do not enjoy enhanced protection against expulsion, even for minors or residents of over 20 years
  • Only in exceptional circumstances can they leave Turkey for more than a year

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Rights are more favourable for long-term residents but incomplete
  • They do not have equal access as Turkish nationals to all areas of employment and social security

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Area of weakness for integration: Becoming a Turkish citizen is more demanding and discretionary than in most countries

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Ordinary immigrants and refugees are slightly discouraged from becoming citizens by more demanding and discretionary requirements in TU than in most countries. TU treats its immigrants and their children less like potential citizens and more like how AT, CY, CH, GR or RO treat immigrants in their naturalisation procedures. Generally in Southeastern Europe, access to nationality is missing from the national integration strategy. Several new countries of immigration are reforming to create their own citizenship model that opens favourable requirements for all residents and refugees learning the language (e.g. PL, PT) or schooled in the country (e.g. CZ, GR, IT).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Eligibility seems straightforward for first-generation immigrants (5 years' legal stay) and spouses of TU citizens (3 years), as is most common across MIPEX countries
  • The growing number of children born or schooled in TU are still treated as foreigners, without their own entitlement to declare themselves Turkish citizens (as in restrictive AT and CH, see instead 18 other countries, e.g. BE, CZ, FR, DE, PT, debates in GR and IT) 

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Eligible applicants face some of the most demanding requirements in TU, alongside AT, BE, FR and UK
  • Immigrants must prove that they are adequately fluent in the TU language, intending to settle in TU, are a person of good morals, not dependent on social benefits and not a threat to public order, security or health
  • To prove this, they face an interview by a special Commission (see box), without prior access to the questions, free courses, study guides to prepare
  • In contrast, other countries' requirements are les restrictive, more objective and supportive for immigrants' integration (see CA, NO, NZ, PL, PT, SE)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Acquiring or losing TU citizenship is highly discretionary, leaving naturalising citizens in an insecure status
  • In comparison, the naturalisation procedure is more discretionary in only CY, IE, LV and MT
  • An applicant may have to wait a long time to be rejected on vague grounds, without the right to know why and appeal (unlike in most countries)
  • A naturalised citizen can then lose their citizenship on several grounds, without the time limits and protections against statelessness that can be found in most other countries

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Dual nationality is in principle accepted in TU
  • The majority of MIPEX countries fully accept dual nationality as a rule (25 countries) or at least as an exception (recently BG, DE, LV, LT)

Policy Box

Each governorship has a special commission responsible for citizenship, including the governor or vice governor and representatives of the offices on citizenship, police, social services, education and others. The Commission interviews applicants and decides whether or they are adapted to social life in TU, for example their reasons for applying and their knowledge of the TU language, the TU state, geographical and historical locations and the text of the national anthem.  The authorities can exempt the following applicants from this interview: those with TU origins or reacquiring TU citizenship, those investing in TU industry, those rendering outstanding social or economic services, those with sports/cultural achievements or those 'deemed necessary' by authorities.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

9,216 were naturalised as TU citizens in 2011, according to data reported to Eurostat. Over the past decade, these numbers have fluctuated widely from 4,500-10,000.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • 2/3 from less developed countries thus likely to naturalise
  • 3/4 from countries allowing dual nationality
  • Humanitarian and family migrants are most likely to stay long-term in Turkey 

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

It seems rare for ordinary immigrants and refugees to become citizens in TU compared to other countries. The naturalisation numbers in TU seem unrelated to immigrant integration, as large numbers in the past have been ethnic TU from nearby countries (e.g. BG). TU's citizenship policies are likely the strongest factor delaying and deterring immigrants from becoming TU citizens.


Key Findings

TU is one of the only MIPEX countries without a dedicated anti-discrimination law with clear definitions, fields of application and enforcement mechanisms

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

TU lacks a dedicated law and specialised equality agency to protect its residents from discrimination, as in only JP and IS. TU's only provisions come from the constitution, international law, and vague equality clauses in a few national laws in areas such as employment and education. No judicial interpretation on this issue has been established by the Constitutional Court. A draft law on Combating discrimination and the Establishment of an Equality council has been pending since 2010. Without a comprehensive law, the concepts of racial, ethnic, religious, nationality and other forms of discrimination are neither well-defined, nor specifically prohibited in all areas of life, such as social protection and advantages, health and housing. The equality commitments by the Turkish state are very limited. 

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • There is no specific anti-discrimination legislation in Turkey, with just a few provisions prohibiting discrimination or providing for equal treatment in the Constitution, laws and regulations
  • Limited provisions prohibiting anti-discrimination are included in labour law and law on civil servants

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • In employment and education, the law does not include nationality as a ground for discrimination but language, race, gender and religion
  • Social security, access to housing and health are areas that do not make strong and clear reference to anti-discrimination

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • The existing enforcement mechanisms are generally unfavourable for enforcing these fragmented prohibitions
  • Civil, criminal, and administrative courts are technically open to all types of cases and able to use a wide range of compensations and sanctions
  • Given how hard discrimination is to prove, these channels are likely to be ineffective without specific anti-discrimination mechanisms required by EU law, including the shift in the burden of proof, protection against victimisation, and a wide set of possible sanctions, unlike in the majority of countries
  • Potential victims in Turkey must bring forward a case alone, without a legal role for NGOs in support or on behalf of the victim (unlike in 16) 

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • Potential victims in TU must bring forward a case alone, without the help of a specialised equality body, unlike in nearly all countries
  • Human Rights Councils are meant to disseminate information and conduct social dialogue on human rights, while the public sector is supposed to respect the principles of non-discrimination
  • The law does not cover positive action measures but public servants are supposed to abide by the non-discrimination rule in their actions



New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!