How EU Law can help Turkish Nationals seeking Employment in the UK

Turkey is not a member of the European Union and consequently its nationals do not enjoy the same right to work in the United Kingdom as migrants from countries within the EEA.  However, in 1963 Turkey and the Member States of the European Economic Community (now re-named the European Community (EC)) signed the Ankara Association Agreement for the progressive establishment of a customs union.  As a result of this Agreement, the Additional Protocol (added in 1970), Decisions of the Association Council and Turkey”s continued progress towards EU accession; certain rights were granted which can make it easier for Turkish migrants to work in the UK.  The UK and all other EC Member States are bound by EU law and therefore must give these rules effect.

1.  Article 41 (1) of the Additional Protocol provides that: ‘the Contracting Parties shall refrain from introducing between themselves any new restrictions on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services’.

This is generally referred to as “the standstill clause” and its direct effect is that any application by a Turkish national to set up in business in the UK has to be considered in light of the UK”s Immigration Rules (HC 510) as they stood in 1973.  Clearly, the Rules in 1973 were far less stringent than they are today in 2012, and this is of great benefit to Turkish migrants wishing to establish a business here, for example in cases where a Turkish national has overstayed a visitor visa but built up a business here whilst technically he/she was in the UK  illegally.

2.  As a consequence of Article 6(1) of Association Council Decision 1/80, Turkish nationals legally employed in the UK for specified periods of time can gain rights to remain or switch employment here in the following ways:

  • a Turkish national legally employed by the same employer for one year has the right to permission from the UK to remain in that employment;
  • a Turkish national legally employed for three years in a particular area of work has the right to permission from the UK to take employment with any employer in that area;
  • a Turkish national legally employed for four years has the right to permission from the UK to take employment with any employer.

3.  Often, we find that the question of whether purported ‘family members’ of Turkish workers can be regarded as such, arises in dealing with Turkish dependant visa applications.  In instances such as these, European Community laws take precedence over the UK”s legislation.  Therefore, where a dependant would not count as a ‘family member’ under UK policy/immigration rules, he/she may count as such under EC law (e.g. a child living under the same roof as his parents, but aged over 18).

It is clear, therefore, that Turkish nationals can benefit from various different provisions in EU Law, which make acquiring a work permit, dependant visa or permission to set up business in the UK a far more straightforward process than for other foreign nationals who are not part of the EU.  For further details on this area of immigration law, please contact us.

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