ECAA - Ankara Agreement
European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) allows Turkish citizens to be accepted as workers in the UK or to establish their own businesses and at the same time to obtain a UK residence permit. Pre-EU accession provisions (1973) of UK, which makes the application process more flexible, also applies to such ECAA applications. However, an applicant is not allowed to benefit from ECAA if it is found to he/she has violated UK immigration laws before. In such cases, the applicant will be subjected to a point-based system, which is currently in force.
ECAA Visas for Self-Employed People
Turkish citizens are entitled to apply and stay in the UK if they would like to become self-employed or start a business in UK under the Turkish ECAA job category. In order for Interior Ministry of UK to be convinced that the applicant must be granted such rights, the applicant must meet the following criteria.
To apply for the Ankara Agreement, the applicant must firstly be a Turkish citizen and also demonstrate following qualifications:
- Applicant must be at least 18 years old
- Applicant must have real willingness to start up a valid business in UK,
- Applicant must have sufficient financial means to establish his/her business in UK,
- Applicant must be able to pay costs of doing business in UK,
- Profit share arising from such business must be sufficient to cover the expenses of applicant and his family without need to an additional job.
In accordance with the published guidelines, the applicant will be granted a 12-month beginning period of residence permit if the above given criteria are met. The applicant can then apply for an extension of residence permit under the same category. Upon this extension application, applicants must meet requirements similar to the above given conditions, such as that the business must have been established in advance; that they must have sufficient financial status to run the business; and business profit should be high enough to cover the applicant's expenses without having to undertake additional work. If these criteria are met, a three-year visa extension will be granted to the applicant.
Applicants who have obtained UK residence permit under ECAA program are not obligated to employ workers, bring capital or have professional education. However, the applicant is expected to demonstrate that he has the quality to do the job he indicated depending on the sector.
After operating in the UK as an investor for five years under ECAA program, it is possible for applicant to apply for a permanent residence permit. Because in this case, applicant is deemed to have demonstrated that he is able to do his / her job successfully and settle permanently in the country. For Professions which require special permission such as Advocacy, Medicine etc, it is necessary to obtain additional permission from institutions that organize such works (for example, relevant bar associations or chamber of architects).
1 year after obtaining an indefinite residence permit, it is possible to apply for UK citizenship. It is also possible to apply depending on any legal business sector within the scope of the Ankara Agreement.
Although it is not possible for the applicant to work in a payroll employment with the residence permit obtained under the ECAA, applicant will be entitled to work in such employments when he / she receives a permanent residence permit.
Application for this type of visa can be made through any UK consulate either in Turkey or any part of world, visa application is free of charge. However, people whose application is responded positive, should go to the UK within 1 month in order to obtain their one-year residence permit cards and start their business. Applicants whose application has been accepted can apply for a visa for their spouse and children later, and visa is given to spouses and children for the same period of time with applicant.
With the law enacted on 15 June 2018, additional conditions have been introduced in order to apply for an indefinite residence permit under ECAA. According to this law, minimum necessary period for an indefinite residence permit application is extended from 4 to 5 years as of the beginning date of the first visa granted to applicant. Additionally, application period for British Citizenship has been increased from 5 years to 6 years as of the same date.
In addition, applicants under ECAA have been obligated to meet following conditions in order to apply for an indefinite residence permit:
- Applicants must not be out of UK more than 180 days in 1 year,
- Applicants must obtain sufficient grade from the English proficiency exam,
- Applicants must pass a citizenship test which measures whether the applicant can adapt to British social life or not,
- Applicants must pay 2389 Pounds per person for an indefinite residence permit application.
UK will continue to receive applications for this visa type until Brexit takes place. However, since this form of visa is based on the recognition of Ankara Agreement on the ground that Britain being a member of the EU. Considering that UK will leave EU membership with Brexit, it is predicted that the Ankara Agreement will disappear with realization of Brexit procedures. The new law does not contain any statement which implies that Ankara Agreement will continue its existence after Brexit and the UK government has not expressed such an eagerness in this direction either.
It is important for people who wish to apply for a visa in UK under the Ankara Agreement to consider these circumstances.
If you are a Turkish citizen who wants to apply to ECAA as a self-employed Turkish investor, please contact us: +90 532 272 36 01.