ECAA – Ankara Agreement
The European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) permits Turkish nationals to establish themselves as a worker or in a business in the UK. It also allows them to attain residency rights in the UK. 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.
ECAA Self-Employed Visas
Turkish nationals are able to apply to or remain in the UK if they want to become self-employed and establish a business under the Turkish ECAA business category. For the Home Office to be satisfied that the applicant qualifies for this, the applicant must:
Have the skills and ability necessary to set up the business proposed;
Have the funds required to set up and run the business proposed; and
Have the capacity to make enough profit to support themselves without the need for additional employment that would require a work permit.
In accordance with the published guidelines, if the above measures are met, the applicant will be granted leave to remain for an initial period of 12 months. The applicant may then submit an application for an extension under the same category. Upon this extension application, they must meet similar requirements to those above: the business must have already been established; there must be enough funds to run the business; and the profits must be high enough to support the applicant without them having to undertake additional paid work. If these criteria are met, a three-year visa extension will be granted.
Once they have been an ECAA businessperson in the UK for four years, it is possible for an individual to request indefinite leave to remain. This is because they have demonstrated that they are able successfully run a business and settle permanently in the country.
If you are a Turkish national who is interested in applying under the ECAA as a self-employed Turkish businessperson, please visit our ECAA Ankara Agreement pages.
ECAA Turkish Worker Visas
A Turkish national who is legally employed in the UK is also permitted to apply for a visa extension to stay longer. To qualify for an extension, they must already have a valid visa (e.g. an au pair visa or a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa) that allows them to work in the UK legally and they must also have worked for the same employer for one year (continuously). If the applicant is successful in their visa extension application, they will be permitted to stay in the UK as a Turkish ECAA worker. However, an applicant under this category cannot apply for indefinite leave to remain.
A Turkish ECAA worker is allowed to change employers after working for three continuous years, as long as they continue in the same profession. After four years, the worker may be employed in any occupation and by any employer.
If an individual has breached UK immigration laws, they cannot work in the UK as an ECAA worker.