ISTANBUL: Foreigners leave Turkey amid new residence law

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
Jan 27 2012

Foreigners leave Turkey amid new residence law

Vercihan ZiflioÄ?lu
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

A high nubmer of Armenian and Georgian people working in Turkey are
leaving the country in the wake of a recent law implementation that
complicates working permits for foreign people. While workers complain
of extreme financial difficulties, Labor Ministry announces that there
will be exceptions for house workers

Armenians and Georgians are rushing to exit Turkey before a new law
complicating residence procedures comes into effect Feb 1. Many
workers from the countries have implored PM Recep Tayyip ErdoÄ?an to
quash the law, saying it will make it impossible for them to continue
living in Turkey.

A new law that will make it more difficult for foreigners to continue
living in Turkey without a residence permit has prompted an exodus of
Georgians and Armenians who want to leave the country before new
regulations go into effect Feb. 1.

`I am pleading to Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] ErdoÄ?an [to
prevent] this law from going into effect. I am feeding and educating
my kids with money that I earn here,’ said Sofiya, a 47-year-old
Georgian citizen, as she was getting ready to travel back to Tbilisi.

`The Law of Foreigners’ Residence and Travel in Turkey’ has also put
the Emniyet Bus Terminal in Istanbul’s Aksaray district into a frenzy,
as Georgians and Armenians who are mainly employed in house labor,
babysitting and patient care are rushing to leave Turkey to avoid
incurring any penalties.
`Bread has no country. Wherever there is bread, we, the economically
vulnerable people, go there. We have to live and support our families.
We have no other chance,’ HayganuÅ?, an Armenian citizen, said in
reference to the tough rhetoric employed by ErdoÄ?an in response to a
draft bill on Armenian genocide allegations that came before the House
of Representatives in the United States in 2010.

Regulations

Until now, many foreigners have done `visa runs’ to neighboring
countries, exiting Turkey after their 90-day visa ends and then
immediately re-entering with a new 90-day visa. However, the new law
prepared by the Labor and Social Security Ministry will only allow
foreign citizens entering the country with a tourist visa to stay in
Turkey for three months, after which time they will be obliged to wait
for another three months abroad before they can return.

Authorities have provided one convenience for foreign workers,
however, in recognition of Armenian, Kyrgyz and Gagauz home laborers.
Such house workers will pay the same premiums as a Turkish citizen and
will be allowed to continue working even if a Turkish citizen demands
the same job.
`Those employed in house labor will continue working by paying
premiums like a Turkish citizen,’ Labor and Social Security Minister
Faruk Ã?elik said.

As many Armenian, Kyrgyz and Gagauz residents in Turkey work in such
services as home labor and patient care, they will also be able to
take advantage of this provision.

Foreign citizens who arrive in Turkey by means of a tourist visa and
later obtain a work permit will be allowed to extend their stay in the
country for a year or more, Ã?elik added.

Foreign workers, however, will then be obliged to pay a hefty premium
of 400 Turkish Liras as well, while they will also be barred from
obtaining employment in a sector where Turkish citizens demand work.

Prime Minister Tayyip EroÄ?an last year expressed that some 170,000
Armenians live in Turkey.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry, however, said only 15,000 Armenian
citizens currently reside in Turkey.
Armenians in Turkey on the other hand, seem worried.

`As Armenian [citizens], we always lived in fear of being sent back.
Such a return would mean chaos for my family. I can neither find food
nor take a leave for three months and return back, or find a job,’
said HayganuÅ?, who has been taking care of an elderly woman in
Istanbul.
January/27/2012

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