Associatieverdrag Turkije

Association treaty with Turkey

mr. D.O. (David) Wernsingon

The past few weeks we have regularly referred in our blogs to the Association Agreement between Turkey and the European Union (EU). This treaty affects, among others, the identification requirement for employers, the need for a (recognised) sponsor and the implementation of the highly skilled migrant scheme. This week, we will discuss the Association Agreement, limiting ourselves to the benefits that apply to employers.

Staying as a family member

Family members with the Turkish nationality have more favourable requirements that they need to meet. For example they are exempted from the integration exams, both outside the Netherlands in case of a first application, and in the Netherlands in case of a change of purpose to EU-long term resident. In addition to this, family members of a Turkish employee – also non-Turkish family members! – are eligible for a residence permit for continued stay after 3 years of staying with the Turkish employee. We have already discussed the various possibilities in a previous blog.


When an organisation or person submits an application to the IND, fees are charged. This can vary from an application for a residence permit for employment to a return visa and involves different fees. In all cases the fees for persons covered by the Association Agreement between Turkey and the EU are significantly lower than for other persons. This immediately results in a financial advantage for the parties involved.

Highly Skilled Migrants

If an organisation wishes to employ a highly skilled migrant, he will have to be recognised by the IND as a sponsor for the purpose of stay for regular employment and highly skilled migrants. There is an exception to this for Turkish citizens: they can work as a highly skilled migrant for a non-recognised sponsor since they do not require a sponsor. This does, however, entail a disadvantage for the non-approved sponsor, as the statutory decision period of 90 days is used to process the application and not the target period of 2 weeks that applies to recognised sponsors.

Another advantage for this group of employees is that the permit for 'Work as a Highly Skilled Migrant' can be changed into a permit for ‘Paid employment’. However, this is subject to the condition that the person in question continues to work for the same employer for another two years, so three years in total, before the employee is awarded the labour market connotation ‘labour freely permitted, no work permit required’. If applicable, the user company is also considered the 'same employer' in this situation. This is different in the case of highly skilled migrants, where the 'same employer' is considered the same as the recognised sponsor. When the residence permit of a highly skilled migrant is converted into work as an employee, the regular income standard applies from that moment on and not the strict wage criterion that applies to highly skilled migrants.

Search period

A maximum search period of 3 months applies to both paid employment and highly skilled migrants. In short, this means that the migrant in question, upon termination of his employment, has up to 3 months - but never longer than the duration of his current residence entitlement - to find a new employer in the Netherlands before he has to leave the country. For Turkish nationals, a longer search period applies, namely 6 months, to be extended with 3 months in certain circumstances. This offers both the migrant and the (future) employer more options when employing this person. Especially for highly skilled migrants who make use of the 30% ruling, it should be noted that this extended search period does not apply to the tax ruling. An important aspect to take into account to avoid disappointments.

Altrough the benefits associated with the Association Agreement apply by operation of law, it is a complex arrangement. If your organisation works with Turkish employees, we would be happy to provide you with personal advice on this.

Next week, we will cover the last of our 10-part blog series. In the past weeks, we have focused on the implementation of the complex laws and regulations surrounding the employment of third country nationals. Next week, we will conclude with the section on Enforcement & Supervision.

Do you have any questions about this topic? Please do not hesitate to contact David Wernsing.  He is happy to assist you!

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