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What is the future of the citizenship by investment program?

Updated: Mar 24

Turkey's 2023 general elections have been brought forward to 14 May this year and six opposition parties (Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Future Party (GP), Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Felicity Party (SP)) have come together to form a six-party alliance to contest the election against incumbent President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the opposition coalition has made it clear that if it wins the election it will end the Turkish citizenship by investment program.

The Turkish CBI program is one of the few “big country” citizenship by investment programs in the global citizenship by investment market with low net cost and short holding period. Applicants only need to invest $400,000 in property or $500,000 in fixed deposits and hold for only 3 years to obtain Turkish citizenship.

Press release from the Six-Party Alliance

Let us review the historical policy changes in the Turkish investment naturalization program first:

In January 2017, Turkey enacted a naturalization bill: a $1 million investment in property/$3 million in bank deposits, held for three years.

In September 2018, in view of the lukewarm response to the launch of the 1.5-year program, the Turkish government enacted a new policy to significantly lower the investment threshold: a $250,000 investment in property/$ 500,000 bank deposit, held for three years.

In March 2019, after 2 visits to Turkey by the Globevisa project development team and internal testing of the process/cycle, as the first immigration company to launch the Turkey investment immigration project in the Chinese market, Globevisa has successfully handled the Turkey project for thousands of groups of clients as of today. It is worth mentioning that the clients who have applied in 2019 have already completed their withdrawals by unfreezing their deposits with the assistance of Globevisa Turkey's local in-house lawyer team, achieving a net cost of 0 to obtain a Turkish passport.

In March 2021, the Turkish Government announced that the same naturalized property could not be used again for naturalization for new clients after three years.

In January 2022, the Turkish government announced that $500,000 in deposit mode must be exchanged into the equivalent amount of Lira for fixed deposit and $250,000 in purchase mode will be transferred by the developer to be credited in Lira. In September of the same year, Globevisa launched an exclusive U.S dollar protected deposit product in partnership with a local bank, after a team of local lawyers had worked hard on it. In June 2022, the purchase mode investment amount was increased from US$250,000 to US$400,000.

In January 2023, the Turkish general election was brought forward to May this year and the six-party opposition formed a coalition political party that explicitly announced that it would abolish Turkey's investment naturalization policy in the event of an election victory.

From the historical changes in Turkey's policy, combined with the sudden policy changes/shutdowns in many European countries (Ireland, Portugal, Spain), Turkey's investment naturalization program policy is not only getting stricter, but even about the risk of suspension. Since the launch of the Turkish citizenship program in 2018, Globevisa has been well received by our clients and as a result, has accumulated a large number of successful cases and exclusive USD deposit/exclusive chartered property projects in Turkey. We share our clients' concerns about the future of the Turkish citizenship program, so we spoke to Gamze Turker, in-house barrister, and Deniz Güney, Managing Director of Globevisa Turkey branch, to get the views of some of the industry's best professionals.

Barrister Gamze Turker, photographed at the Immigration Office in Istanbul, Turkey

Barrister Gamze Turker, photographed at the Immigration Office in Istanbul, Turkey

Q1: What do you think of the future of Citizienship programs in Turkey?

People in Turkey think that house crisis hit them badly and one of the main reason is the foreigner investors. Opposition parties saw the opportunity that most of the Turks no matter their political views critize government, so they started to focus on this issue. They promise that they will stop CBI programs at least for 5 years once they get elected.

Q2: How is the situation before election?

6 opposition parties gathered together and getting ready for the election of 2023. One of the mutual concerns of these different parties is immigration issue. They are agree that foreigners should not get citizienship this easy in Turkey and get all the rights come with citizienship.

Q3: What will be CBI programs until 14 May 2023?

Election date was announced and it will be on the 14th of May 2023. Although citizenship applications are still open, the government may terminate this program just before the election for not putting the risk of its votes and showing that government can handle immigration issues. We also can not know the result of the election. As these opposition parties’ main objective is to terminate CBI programs there is a chance that Turkish citizenship can be suspended.

Q4: What do you recommend for the people who think to apply for Turkish citizenship programs?

I would recommend them to make up their mind quickly. As there is not any guaranteed deadline for it, before the election current government, or after the election new government can terminate the program. This is why as long as there is no announcement by the government or publication on the official gazette, CBI is an open opportunity for all the investors who want to catch it.

Barrister Deniz Güney, Managing Director of Globevisa Turkey branch

Barrister Deniz Güney, Managing Director of Globevisa Turkey branch, graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Law in 2009 and started her career as a lawyer with an LLM in International Trade from the University of Nottingham, UK in 2011. She founded her own law firm, GUNEY LEGAL, and pursued a Ph.D. in private law alongside her legal practice. Deniz Güney is also a gold medallist in the sport of swimming.

“There is no doubt that Turkey is one of the most advantageous citizenship programs by investment. When the applicants sell their property after three years, they earn a profit because real estate prices in Turkey are always increasing. For this reason, the program has been in high demand. This is why the minimum investment amount, which was $250,000 when the program first started, has now increased to $400,000. Especially during the Russia-Ukraine war, many Russians and Ukrainians acquired citizenship by buying property from Turkey. Considering that the world is going through a process of change, we think that the Turkish citizenship program by investment will be in demand for a long time. It would be useful to address the issue within the scope of the election, which is on Turkey's agenda. The opposition party is running an election campaign to end the settlement of foreigners in Turkey. This situation should not be perceived as the closure of the citizenship program by investment, because it will not be easy to give up this system, which provides a significant foreign currency inflow to Turkey, given the current economic situation. In addition, considering the impact of developers on politics, it does not seem possible to close the citizenship program by investment. In our opinion, the program will continue to contribute to the country's economy by continuing for a long time.“

With Turkey's May elections just around the corner, is it true that the Turkish government will close down access to Turkish citizenship by investment, just as it did with the turmoil over the European Golden Visa? Is there enough of a buffer period for processing to catch the last train for Turkish citizenship by investment? Based on the experience of Globevisa over the past 4 years in successfully processing thousands of groups of clients for the Turkish citizenship program, the application for the investment certificate will be the key point according to the previous change of regime in Turkey, which gives the investor 2 months to complete the investment. Investors who apply in March will be able to apply for investment certificates in April to lock in the old policy and can submit them normally. There's no need to worry about the impact of the election. Even if the Leader of the Opposition takes over after the May election, there is still a buffer period between the old regime and the new one, so it's entirely safe to do so now!

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