Association Treaty with Turkey – Lexology

In recent weeks, we have regularly blogged about the Association Agreement between Turkey and the European Union (EU). This treaty affects, among other things, the identification requirement for employers, the need for a sponsor (recognized) and the implementation of the highly skilled migrant scheme. This week, we will discuss the Association Agreement, limiting ourselves to the benefits that apply to employers.

Stay as a family member

Family members with Turkish nationality have more favorable conditions that they must fulfill. For example, they are exempted from integration examinations, both outside the Netherlands in the case of first application, and in the Netherlands in the event of a change of purpose as a long-term resident in the EU. On top of that, family members of a Turkish employee – also non-Turkish family members! – are eligible for a residence permit for continuous stay after 3 years of residence with the Turkish employee. We have already discussed the different possibilities in a previous blog.


When an organization or individual submits an application to the IND, a fee is charged. This can range from applying for a residence permit for employment to a re-entry visa and involves different fees. In any case, the costs for people covered by the Association Agreement between Turkey and the EU are significantly lower than for other people. This immediately results in a financial benefit for the parties involved.

Highly skilled migrants

If an organization wishes to employ a highly skilled migrant, they will need to be recognized by the IND as a sponsor for the purpose of stay for regular employment and highly skilled migrants. There is an exception to this for Turkish citizens: they can work as a highly skilled migrant for an unrecognized sponsor since they do not need a sponsor. This, however, results in an inconvenience for the unapproved sponsor, as the legal decision time of 90 days is used to process the application and not the target time of 2 weeks which applies to approved sponsors.

Another advantage for this group of employees is that the permit to “work as a highly skilled migrant” can be transformed into a permit for “paid employment”. However, this is subject to the condition that the person in question continues to work for the same employer for another two years, so three years in total, before the employee receives the labor market connotation “freely permitted work, no work permit required”. Where applicable, the user company is also considered to be the “same employer” in this situation. The situation is different in the case of highly skilled migrants, where the “same employer” is considered to be the same as the recognized sponsor. When the residence permit of a highly qualified migrant is converted into paid employment, the standard of regular income applies from that moment and not the strict salary criterion that applies to highly qualified migrants.

Search period

A maximum search period of 3 months applies to both paid employment and highly skilled migrants. In short, this means that the migrant in question, at the end of his employment, has up to 3 months – but never more than the duration of his current right of residence – to find a new employer in the Netherlands before having to leave the country . For Turkish nationals, a longer search period applies, namely 6 months, which can be extended by 3 months in certain circumstances. This gives both the migrant and the (future) employer more options when it comes to hiring that person. Especially for highly skilled migrants who make use of the 30% tax ruling, it should be noted that this extended search period does not apply to the tax ruling. An important aspect to take into account to avoid disappointment.

Although the benefits associated with the Association Agreement apply as of right, it is a complex arrangement. If your organization works with Turkish employees, we would be happy to provide you with personalized advice on this.

Next week, we’ll be covering the last in our 10-part blog series. Over the past few weeks, we have focused on implementing the complex laws and regulations surrounding the employment of third-country nationals. Next week we will end with the section on enforcement and supervision.

Andrew B. Reiter