Seeking Asylum in Turkey

last update: October 2016

Seeking Asylum: Legal Situation – Applying for International Protection in Turkey

(Most information here is not concerning Syrians!  There is a specific section for Syrians called “Temporary Protection”. This section explains seeking international protection in Turkey for non-Syrians)

- If you come into the country with the officially necessary documentation, like passport and/or visa, (“legally”), then you go to the Provincial Migration Management Directorate in the city you are staying, when you decide to seek asylum.

- If you have no papers and you want to seek asylum, you must apply at the nearest place to where you enter Turkey.

-Please be aware that if you are not a citizen of Council of Europe (CoE) countries and you want to apply for asylum, you can apply for international protection in Turkey but you will never get refugee status as Turkey has a geographical limitation on giving the refugee status. If you are a citizen of CoE country and your asylum application is accepted, you will receive the refugee status. Everybody else who applies for asylum in Turkey and whose application is accepted will get one of these 2 statuses: conditional refugee and subsidiary protection.

-In order for you to legally stay in Turkey, you need to register with Turkish authorities. You need to file an application for asylum at the public offices of the Republic of Turkey. The application to be filed at the provincial governor’s offices will provide you legal status, as well access to rights and services.

- If you are not a CoE country citizen, then you can also apply to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).  The UNHCR carries out resettlement to 3rd safe countries for citizens of non-CoE countries.

-To register with the UNHCR, you have to approach ASAM office in Ankara.

-Please be aware that registering only with the UNHCR will not regularize (legalize) your situation in Turkey. The principle institution to register in Turkey is the Provincial Migration Management Directorate in the city your are in.

-Please be aware that the quota for resettlement is very low which means that many people will never get the chance of resettlement. Also the process of resettlement usually takes many years.

You can find more information about this procedures here:



Generally everyone goes to register with the UNHCR first, but you can also register with the Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (PDMM). International protection applicants cannot live in the city they wish to live. They are usually directed to one of the 62 satellite cities which are designated cities for international protection applicants. If you apply the UNHCR they will tell you which city you are assigned to. If you apply to PDMM, they can transfer you to another city. Satellite cities are all fairly small cities. The big cities Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir are NOT one of them. Unfortunately, officially you are forced to live there. For example you have to go to PDMM office every week to give your signature. If you miss it 3 times in a row, the PDMM has the right to close your file and put you in deportation list. You can only change your satellite city if you have a family member in another city or if you have a health problem which cannot be treated in the city you are living.

After you register with the PDMM, they will give you an international protection applicant card which contains a foreigners ID number which starts with 99. With this card you can enjoy education and health services. This card is free of charge and you should not pay any money! Also registering with the UNHCR is free of charge.

- If the PDMM rejects your asylum claim, you have the right to appeal. You can appeal yourself or apply to bar association's free legal aid bureau to ask for free legal aid. In this situation please ASAP approach an NGO which is experienced on the matter and can assist you. Contacts you can find here (see “B) Legal advice”):

- If the UHNCR rejects your asylum claim, you again have the right to appeal. Again, please approach an experienced NGO ASAP.

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