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April 24, 2018

Home Office scraps right to remain provisions for Turkish nationals on business visas

Turkish nationals can no longer apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) through a visa scheme which had existed since 1973. The government announced that it will not accept applications made after 16 March.

This means that 12,500 people and their dependents, who entered the UK with the expectation that they would be eligible to apply for ILR can no longer do so, despite having Home Office letters issued before March 16 confirming the legitimacy of their status.

The Turkish European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) business visa originates from an agreement signed between the European Union and Turkey in 1963 (known as the Ankara Agreement), which allows Turkish nationals to work in EU countries on a special visa. The UK came under the agreement after signing on in 1973. Through the business visa, Turkish nationals can apply for a one-year work visa in Britain, extendable for three more years.

Previously, visa holders could then apply for ILR after the four years. However, the government had scrapped these rules in March with a hard cut-off date and no transitional arrangements.

The new directive follows a High Court case in 2017, which examined a Home Office decision not to grant ILR to a Turkish man’s wife and UK-born son. The husband/father himself had been granted ILR through the business visa scheme, but the  judicial review found that the Ankara Agreement did not extend rights for family members.    

The updated visa information can be found here, with a link to the judicial review judgement linked as well.

In 2017, there were 2,925 ECAA business visa applications, of which 1,430 were granted according to government statistics. From 1997, 77,220 such visa were granted.