What is the Ankara Agreement?
The Ankara Agreement is an association created between The Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community. This agreement is also known as the ECAA agreement and permits Turkish nationals to work or set up business and attain residency rights in the UK. Signed in the UK 1963, the treaty was made more flexible in 1973.
The old 1973 provisions apply to all ECAA applications, making the application process more flexible. However, an applicant is prevented from benefiting from the ECAA if it is discovered that they are in breach of UK immigration laws. In such circumstances, the applicant will be subjected to the points-based system that is currently operated.
Article 13 of the Ankara Agreement provides progressive abolition of restrictions on freedom of establishment and provision of services. Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement was signed on 23 November 1970. Article 41 of the agreement which is also known as the standstill clause says, “The Contracting Parties shall refrain from introducing between themselves any new restrictions on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services.” The clause also prohibits introduction of any new restrictions.
This means that the Turkish citizens cannot be affected by the contemporary laws and restrictions on the free movement of people particularly concerning matters where individuals want to establish their own business.
ECAA Self-Employed Visas
Those Turkish nationals who wish to pursue their business or want to be self-employed can apply to or remain in the UK under the Turkish ECAA business category.
The applicant must:
have sufficient funds set up and begin the business,
have the ability to establish the proposed business successfully; and
be capable enough to make sufficient profit out of the business to support without taking recourse to the additional employment as for that the applicant would need to apply for the work permit in addition.
Once the above conditions having fulfilled, the applicant will become eligible for leave to remain for an initial period of 12 months. Thereafter the applicant may seek to apply for an extension under the same category (i.e. business category) subject to fulfilling the very conditions of the business. The business must have already been successfully established, there must be no dearth of funds to run the business. Further, the amount of profits must be such as the applicant can sustain without opting for additional paid work.
Once the above criteria has been fulfilled, the applicant will be eligible for a three-year visa extension.
On completing 4 years with the above conditions, the ECAA businessperson in the UK may on his request be considered for indefinite leave to remain as he has sufficiently displayed that he can successfully pursue his business and settle permanently in the country.
Worker Visas for Turkish ECAA
A valid visa holder (au pair visa or a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa) and legally employed to work in the UK for one year continuously with the same employer, the Turkish National is permitted to apply for a visa extension to stay for long. Successful workers getting a visa extension will be permitted to stay in the UK as a Turkish ECAA worker but he cannot apply for indefinite leave to remain.
After working continuously for three years on the same job and with the same employer, a Turkish ECAA worker may change employers. Thereupon, after four years, the worker may be permitted to seek employment with any employer in any occupation.
An applicant having transgressed the UK immigration laws, cannot work in the UK as an ECAA worker.