Obstacles preventing Syrians from obtaining Turkish citizenship through marriage

Syrians holding “temporary protection” cards in Turkey continue to face problems with marriage-based naturalization laws, amid conflicting laws that sometimes require them to leave the country and return, which is not legally available to them.

Hassan (age 35) lives in the state of Hatay in southern Turkey, married a Turkish citizen in 2020, and has a “temporary protection” card (kimlik) according to which he stays in the country.

Hassan called for the possibility of obtaining citizenship of the country for foreign nationals, as this ensures permanent stability, unlike the state of fear of deportation that Syrians suffer from.

There is no clear law

Hassan, together with his Turkish wife, went to the Immigration Department in Hatay to inquire how to change his refugee status in the country to family residence, so that he would benefit later when applying for citizenship, but the employees told them that there was no any way to make it happen.

According to what Hassan told Enab Baladi, the responses he received from department employees indicated that they did not know exactly what the laws required or that they were not available for a case like his.

Syrians were in the foreground in the statistics of marriages of Turkish citizens with foreigners, according to the “Turkish Statistical Office”.

Among the marriages of foreigners in Turkey, the cases of Syrian women who married Turkish citizens accounted for 14% of the total number of cases which amounted to 23,687.

While Syrian men are in second place after Germans, with 20% of the total number of four thousand and 976 cases of marriage of a Turkish woman with a foreign citizen.

The statistics excluded cases of marriages of Syrians who have Turkish citizenship with Turkish citizens.

journey and return

Among the suggestions immigration officials told Hassan was to travel outside the country and then return legally, so that the foreign resident could obtain a “family residence permit,” which gives the foreign spouse the opportunity to apply for Turkish citizenship.

As for the second proposal, it was to wait three years and then apply for what is known as “exceptional citizenship.”

The director of Watan Law Firm, lawyer Wasim Kassab Bashi, told Enab Baladi that a foreign resident can obtain Turkish citizenship through marriage, provided he entered the country legally and received a “temporary protection” card after entering the country for a short time. of 90 days.

This does not apply to the majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey who entered the country illegally through Turkey’s southern border.

The lawyer added that if the first condition does not apply to a foreign party, she must travel with her Turkish wife outside the country and then apply for a “family visa” to legally enter Turkey.

However, the departure of a Syrian with a temporary protection card from Turkish territory in this way prevents him from entering the country for a period of five years, according to the lawyer, who explained that the ban can be violated if the purpose of the visa is to obtain a family residence.

As for Hassan, even this opportunity is considered useless for him, because the Department of Immigration has placed a “code 91” on his residence (which prohibits him from leaving the territory of Turkey under any circumstances), for no known reasons.

Nothing to do with “exceptional nationality”

Turkey is one of the first countries to receive Syrian refugees on its territory, but it is also one of the countries that have not implemented clear laws for obtaining citizenship, like countries in the Middle East.

Some Syrians have been granted Turkish citizenship under the category of “exceptional citizenship,” under conditions that are still unclear to refugees or immigration officials in Turkey.

Enab Baladi followed the cases of some Syrians who stayed in the country for eight or nine years and did not get citizenship, and some of them had their applications for naturalization rejected.

Regarding the advice Hasan received from an immigration employee in Hatay to apply for “exceptional” citizenship through marriage, lawyer Wassim Qassab Bashi said “exceptional” nationality has nothing to do with citizenship through marriage.

He added that the marriage of a Syrian man to a Turkish citizen is an indication of the foreigner’s intention to settle in the country and may facilitate or speed up the “exceptional nationality” steps, but will not make a difference in terms of the steps followed.

Phases of naturalization

The stages of obtaining “exceptional” Turkish citizenship include security studies and verification of the authenticity of the documents submitted by the applicant.

Each step in submitting a nationality file has a name, but the explanations for bypassing this name are unclear, and the reasons for rejection and acceptance are unknown.

The first phase is called “System” (the file entered the system), while the second phase is “Documents” (the documents were sent, but did not reach their destination), then “Arrival of documents”, “Revision”, “Archive”.

As for the fifth stage, it is the acceptance stage, then sending the applicant’s file to the competent authorities, and consists of five other stages during which the naturalization file is submitted.

Lawyer Wassim explained that the steps a foreigner goes through to obtain a country’s citizenship are the same for “exceptional citizenship” and citizenship based on marriage.

The difference between the two is considered simple, as the citizenship by marriage steps are higher than the others in terms of security clearance steps, but “citizenship by marriage” is considered faster in terms of completing the procedures, as it can be completed within one year.

While obtaining “exceptional citizenship” generally takes between a year and two, according to the lawyer.

The need left by the state of instability

With the constant instability that Hasan constantly feels in Turkey, given that he is prevented from traveling from the country in which he resides, as is the case with holders of the “temporary protection” card, it has become necessary to obtain state citizenship.

During Hassan’s marriage in 2020, he was unable to travel to another country with his wife for a conjugal holiday, or what is known as a “honeymoon”, because the police required his permission to travel after leaving Hatay.

Although Hassan’s wife went to the Immigration Department several times in an attempt to obtain a travel permit, she was unable to obtain one due to the lack of justification specified in the “travel permit” law for immigration officials.

Read also: Syrians and the “pressure distribution” plan… “arbitrary” measures outside the framework of the law

Since 2016, Turkish authorities have required Syrians holding “temporary protection” cards to reside in the country where their details and addresses are registered, and are not allowed to move between countries unless they receive a “travel permit” free of charge.

Meanwhile, Syrians, especially in the border states, find it extremely difficult to obtain permission to travel, especially to the state of Istanbul, where the Turkish authorities are trying to reduce the presence of Syrians, leaving them vulnerable to the exploitation of “brokers” who obtain permission for them in exchange for sums of money .

Among the conditions for obtaining permission to travel is the existence of important work for the refugee in the country to which he is traveling, and proof of the existence of such work such as a hospital report or visit to family members (their identity and addresses must be provided), or obtaining a work permit in the country to which they will travel.

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