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Turkey is in the spotlight among immigrant investors: the number of applications is surging

April 7, 2021

6 minutes read

In 2020, Turkey ranked fifth in the global RCBI immigration-investment services market, according to the report of Investment Migration Insider newspaper. Since 2017, the country gradually began to accept migrant investors, but over the past two years, the number of citizens, who received a second passport or Turkish residence permit by investment, has increased rapidly.

The phenomenon of Turkish performance on the market of immigration and investment services

The citizenship by investment program in Turkey was launched in January 2017 to attract foreign direct investment and stimulate the growth of the country's real estate industry. Investors were given the opportunity to obtain a Turkish passport without having to reside in the country and renounce their current citizenship.

In the spring of 2020, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish Ministry of Interior was accepting more than 1,300 applicants each month. According to internal estimates, investments in the economy were as high as USD 17 million per day. During the 2 years since the minimum investment fee was lowered from 2 million USD to 250,000 USD, about 35,000 people have been naturalized through the investment program.

Throughout the history of CBI programs (Citizenship by Investment) there is no equal to the Turkish results.

What makes Turkey successful in CBI programs

What justifies the sudden growth, which does not even involve visa-free entry to Schengen offered by Caribbean competitors? Turkey's success in the market of immigration by investment can be explained by several reasons:

  • Turkey is a geographically, culturally and religiously friendly place for a huge number of immigrants from Central Asia and the East;
  • the updated Turkish citizenship by investment program has become significantly more affordable;
  • Turkey has a very low level of due diligence compared to other popular programs;
  • many of the applicants for Turkish citizenship come from nationalities, that automatically exclude or make it difficult for them to participate in immigration and investment programs in the Caribbean and Europe.

It is also important that, unlike their Caribbean counterparts, the Turks allow foreign investors to purchase real estate on the open market. And thanks to the inexpensive national currency, as well as the COVID-19 restrictions, related to the fall in the real estate market, transactions can be made on a large scale.

Turkey stands out among the countries included in RCBI's top 10 most eligible markets in 2020 for its relative affordability, compared to most European countries. The evaluation criteria include:

  • ease of doing business;
  • index of economic freedom;
  • requirements for the applicant.

This means that starting a business, finding qualified employees and paying taxes in Istanbul is not much harder than, for example, in Athens. Turkey's economy has been growing at an enviable rate of 7% a year for the past 5 years and the IMF predicts this growth will continue for the next 5 years.

The increase of migration traffic in Turkey

The migration market is also growing and has been doubling every year for the last 5 years. Some of the factors that make Turkey so popular with Pakistani, Iraqi and Iranian immigrant investors, on the contrary, turn out to be repelling factors for Turks themselves. Just as Turkish citizenship can be a progressive step for an Afghan investor, residence in the UK or the EU represents a desirable goal for Turkish citizens.

Thanks to immigration benefits guaranteed by the Ankara agreement of 1969, Turkish citizens can benefit from a business visa (TBpV), which does not require large investments, except for flexibly defined sufficient funds to establish their business.

Between 2015 and 2019, Turkey increased its participation in the TBpV program tenfold. In 2020, nearly 3,000 main applicants and about the same number of their family members received permits to stay in the U.K., thanks to the business visa. About 1,000 Turkish families moved to the U.S. on an E2 visa during the same period. There were 518 approved applications on the Greek gold visa.

RCBI forecast

Overall, RCBI migration traffic from Turkey has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 74% over the past 5 years, indicating a doubling of market size each year.

About 160,000 Turks qualify as millionaires. New World Wealth estimates that nearly 18,000 of Turkish high-net-worth individuals have left the country in the last four years.

The high degree of domestic and foreign demand for RCBI, combined with its affordability, has also made the Turkish market more competitive. The introduction of Turkey's immigration program in 2017 caused a surge in the domestic consulting services market.

Most Turkish companies offering immigration services focus solely on incoming capital. Over the past 5 years, several major international providers, that are also focused on the outbound market, have entered Turkey, such as Arton Capital, Bayat Group, Discus Holdings and NTL.

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