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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

A. Asylum procedure

Q1: I came to Turkey to apply for asylum. What shall I do?

A1: Please get a registration interview date from UNHCR by calling us or coming to the gate in Ankara or in Van. You will get advice on the city assigned to you by the Ministry of Interior, where you can get registered with the police prior to your registration with UNHCR. You will have to go to one of the so-called satellite cities decided by the Ministry of Interior. There are 51 different cities at the moment, namely: Adana, Afyonkarahisar, Agri, Aksaray, Amasya, Bilecik, Burdur, Cankiri, Corum, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Isparta, Kahramanmaras, Karaman, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kirikkale, Kirsehir, Konya, Kutahya, Mersin, Nevsehir, Nigde, Sivas, Sirnak, Tokat, Van, Canakkale, Bolu, Usak, Denizli, Yalova, Siirt, Balikesir, Batman, Sanliurfa, Kilis Ardahan, Malatya, Kars, Igdir, Duzce, Sakarya, Erzincan, Gumushane, Bayburt, Mardin and Yozgat. Click here for the addresses of the Foreigners Police in different cities. In order to remain in Turkey legally, you must approach the Turkish authorities as soon as possible to register yourself. For more information about your responsibilities towards the Turkish authorities, see the leaflets prepared by UNHCR and the Turkish Ministry of Interior.

Q2: Do I need to pay for UNHCRs services when I apply for asylum?

A2: No, never. All UNHCR services are free of charge. If you believe you have information concerning misconduct or corruption, you should inform the representation in Turkey immediately by sending an email to turan@unhcr.org or by writing to PO Box: 5 , 06550 Cankara/Ankara, which will be reviewed immediately.

Q3: How long will it take before I know whether I have been accepted as a refugee or not?

 

A3: The number of the newcomers approaching UNHCR in 2010 is %18 higher than arrivals in 2009. Currently the average waiting period between registration and interview is 4 months and between registration and decision 10 months. However, sometimes the waiting period for the interview might be longer, depending on the number of applicants and on the complexity of your case. In exceptional cases, the waiting period after the first interview can be longer. UNHCR will do its utmost to process cases quickly.

Q4: The waiting period seems too long to me. Can I get an earlier interview date?

A4: Unfortunately UNHCR can only prioritize interview dates of very vulnerable cases (if you are a woman supporting your family alone, seriously ill, an elderly person alone in Turkey, etc). If you think that you belong to any of these groups, you can write a letter to UNHCR, explain the situation and provide documents to support your explanation (for example a doctors certificate describing the nature of your illness).

 

Q5: I had my interview already but I forgot to tell something. Can I talk to the legal officer who is dealing with my case?

A5: If you have something to add, please put it in writing, add your case number and send it either by mail, fax or e-mail to UNHCR and your communication will be forwarded to your legal officer.

Q6: How can I learn the result of my case?

A6: The easiest way is to check the website at: http://results.unhcr.org.tr/ or http://sonuclar.unhcr.org.tr/. To access your information, you need your UNHCR case number and date of birth. You will also be informed about the result by letter. If your address has changed, inform UNHCR about it by fax. Both recognition and rejection will be communicated to you by letter.

Q7: I learned that I have been accepted as a refugee. What is happening now?

A7: Please provide an accurate telephone number so that UNHCR can contact you. If your case is suitable for resettlement, you can expect to be called for an interview. Please remember that some refugees cannot be resettled because of objections of the Turkish Government. The final decision to be accepted for resettlement lies with the resettlement countries, not with UNHCR or the Government of Turkey. For more information, please click here for the questions and answers on resettlement.

Q8: I lost my letter of concern. What should I do?

A8: You have to approach the nearest police station and report the loss of the document to them. You have to take a copy of the statement/report that you get from the police before you apply to UNHCR for a new copy.

Q9: I want to include my husband/wife and/or children, who arrived to Turkey after me, to my case. What shall I do?

A9: Please get a registration interview date from UNHCR. For the registration interview please bring all the documents passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate and written statements about your request to have your family added to your file and the consent of your spouse.

Q10: How can I change my satellite city?

A10: Ministry of Interior decides on which of the 51 satellite cities in Turkey the refugees and asylum-seekers have to stay while they are in Turkey. If you want to be transferred to another city, you have to submit a petition explaining in detail the reasons for your request to the Foreigners Police in the city where you are legally staying. If the police do not accept the letter, you can send it by post to: Emniyet Genel Mdrlğ, Yabancılar Daire Baskanlığı, İltica Blm, İlkadım Cad. No: 89, Dikmen 06100 ANKARA. You can also directly fax your petition to the Ministry of Interior's Asylum Office. The fax number is 0 312 466 90 11. It is possible that the Ministry of Interior gives a negative reply to your request. If you want to be transferred because of security reasons, you can send a copy of your petition to UNHCR.

Q11: The police have informed me that my case has been rejected or closed by the Ministry of Interior. What can I do and can UNHCR help me?

A11: You may appeal against the decision and submit additional information and documents supporting your objection to the police in the city where you reside. If the police do not take it from you, you can send it by registered post (iadeli-taahutlu mektup ile) to Emniyet Genel Mudurlugu, Yabancilar Daire Baskanligi, Iltica Bolumu, İlkadım Cad. No: 89 Dikmen 06100 ANKARA. Please, do not forget to send a copy of your appeal letter and the letter you received from the police to UNHCR, as well.

Q12: How can I legally marry in Turkey?

A12: With original identification and marital status documents indicating that you are single, apply to general registry (matrimonial) office in your place of residence. Those who cannot provide the mentioned documents can ask advice from the local police. According to national legislation in Turkey, national police may issue documents testifying your marital status based on available information to them and you can take this document to the matrimonial service. If you face a problem you can get guidance from UNHCR Implementing Partners (ASAM or HRDF) in the cities you reside, or you can contact UNHCR.

Q13: We have legally married in Turkey. How can we combine our files?

A13: Each of you as principal applicants shall make separate written requests for the combination of the files and our office will assess whether your cases can be combined or not, depending on your respective status.

 Q14: Do I need a lawyer to help me with the asylum process?

A14: No, you dont need a lawyer but you have the right to have one if you want. You should remember, however, that you have to be able to pay the fees of the private lawyers by yourself. In the satellite cities, you can approach the Bar Association for legal assistance.   

B. Protection

Q1: Can I apply for asylum while I am in detention?

A1: If you want to apply for asylum while you are detained in a Removal Centre you must submit your written request to the Police at the Removal Centre of your wish to apply for asylum and to contact UNHCR. Contacting UNHCR to inform of your intention to apply for asylum is not enough, as the Turkish authorities require that you express this intention directly to the Police in charge of the custody of the Removal Centre.

Q2: Can I request the services of a lawyer while I am in detention?

A2: In principle yes. Access to lawyers providing free legal aid at the Removal Centre is possible. You can contact the Bar Association of the city where you are in detention, click here for the contact details.

Q3: I think I have not been treated right in Turkey. Where can I complain?

A3: In every city, there are offices of Bar Associations, where you can find a lawyer to assist you in making a complaint free of charge. There are also commissions of the Human Rights Presidency that are responsible for assisting people in Turkey whose human rights have been violated.    

Q4:  Will I be released from detention if I apply for asylum?

A4: Not necessarily. The Turkish authorities decide if you can be released or not. The fact that you have applied for asylum does not necessarily mean that you will be released.

Q5: Will I be interviewed by UNHCR if I apply for asylum while I am in detention?

A5: UNHCR tries its best to interview asylum-seekers in detention. However, this is subject to a prior authorization from the Ministry of Interior.

Q6: Will I be released from detention if I am recognized as a refugee by UNHCR?

A6: Even if you are recognized as a refugee by UNHCR, it is the Ministry of Interior who decides if you can be released or not.  UNHCR cannot promise that you will be released from detention.

Q7: I am being treated like a slave and forced to sexual or other work I do not want to do. My passport and other documents have been taken from me. What can I do?

A7: You may be a victim of human trafficking. Human trafficking is illegal according to the international and Turkish laws. It is conducted by criminals who are often members of well-organized crime networks. If you think you are a victim of human trafficking, you should call the police at 155, or gendarmerie at 156 or call 157 help line anytime, anywhere, free of charge and ask for help. The 157 help line is operated 24 hours a day seven days a week. It can be reached by dialing 157 on any phone, including mobiles, from inside Turkey. You can get detailed information from www.countertrafficking.org . You can also report your situation to UNHCR offices in Turkey. The information you give will not be shared with other organizations without your permission.

Q8: I am a victim of trafficking. I fear returning back to my country of origin because of this situation. What should I do?

A8: Explain your situation to the police and tell them that you fear to return back to your country of origin because of your situation. If you are coming from a non-European country, contact UNHCR. Victims of human trafficking may also apply for a free of charge humanitarian visa for 6 months to stay in Turkey temporarily.

Q9: I know someone who is a victim of trafficking. Can I help her / him?

A9: Yes. You can ask for help by calling the police at 155, or gendarmerie at 156 or 157 help line.  Let the police intervene and help.

C. Resettlement

Q1: What is resettlement?

A1: Resettlement is one of the three durable solutions to be sought for refugees. The other two solutions are voluntary repatriation and local integration. In principle, when neither voluntary repatriation or local integration are possible, UNHCR tries to seek a country that is willing to accept refugees and help them in a way that was not possible in the first country where they arrived.

Q2: Which countries accept refugees from Turkey?

A2: There are very few countries that regularly accept refugees from Turkey. These countries are Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America. Some other countries might accept you on an exceptional basis, for instance if you have close relatives in that country.

Q3: As a recognized refugee, do I have a right to be resettled?

A3: No, there is no automatic right to resettlement. UNHCR cannot force countries to accept refugees for resettlement. The individual countries decide themselves who they can accept and who they cannot accept. UNHCR estimates that there are over 800,000 refugees in need of resettlement in the world, but resettlement countries only take an average of 80,000 resettlement places. It means less than 10 percent of the world's refugees in need of resettlement can be resettled.

Q4: Can I choose my resettlement country?

A4: No, refugees don't have the right to choose the resettlement country.  After being recognized as a refugee by UNHCR, your case is evaluated to see which country might be willing to accept you, according to the criteria set by different countries. However, you can not be forced to be resettled to a specific country either.

Q5: How long does it take to be resettled?

A5: After your case has been introduced to a resettlement country, the process will continue according to their schedules. For most resettlement countries, the process takes several months and sometimes more than a year before they make the decision whether they can accept you or not. After that you still might need to wait for several months before the actual exit from Turkey because the practical arrangements take time.  

Q6: I have been in Turkey for many years already. Why does UNHCR not resettle me?

A6: There can be many problems in the resettlement process that very often cannot be solved.
There are very few countries that regularly accept refugees for resettlement from Turkey. Also, these countries have decided a maximum number of refugees that they are willing to take from Turkey every year. The countries have their own criteria on who they will accept to their country. Some countries only accept refugees from certain countries. They might not want to take members of some political parties and persons who are seen as having participated in violent or illegal activities. Some countries would not like to take unaccompanied minors or seriously or chronically ill persons, or others, whose care would be expensive for the country. If you have been separated and/or divorced, you should have legal custody of your children. Some countries only accept refugees, who already have family members in that country.
In general, the resettlement countries prefer the refugees that come from countries neighboring Turkey. If you come from a region far away from Turkey (Africa or Asia), finding a country that would accept you from Turkey is very difficult.

Because of the strict criteria that the countries use, about 30 percent of the persons that UNHCR has recognized as refugees are not accepted by the resettlement countries. That means that even if you have received a refugee status, it does not guarantee that you can be resettled.
The Turkish Government also has different reasons for not allowing some refugees to be resettled from Turkey. For example, if you have found protection and/or tried to apply for asylum in another country before coming to Turkey or if you have not registered with the Turkish authorities, the Government might not allow you to leave. If you are not in a financial position to pay the accumulated fees and fines, you may apply with a petition for exemption. Also persons that the Turkish Government thinks are not in need of international protection might not be allowed to leave through resettlement.  

Q7: What will happen if I am rejected by a resettlement country?

A7: UNHCR will try to find another country that might accept you.

Q8: What will happen to me if no resettlement country will accept me or if the Turkish Government does not allow me to exit?

A8: These situations happen and they are not under UNHCRs control. Even if you are not resettled, you are still a person of concern to UNHCR. UNHCR will make every effort to help you to stay legally in Turkey. You should continue living peacefully in Turkey, obey the laws and make every effort to be able to support yourself and your family in Turkey.

Q9: If my relative or a friend gives me a sponsorship letter, would UNHCR consider sending me to the country in question?

A9: Resettlement is not based on sponsorship. As stated above, only the country itself will decide if you are accepted. UNHCR cannot submit your case to countries, which have no resettlement program or which are not willing to consider certain profiles.

Q10: I have relatives abroad. Can I be resettled under family reunification?

A10: There are different criteria for family reunification that differ from one country to another. Usually only spouses, children below 18 and parents over 65 who are dependent on their children are accepted under family reunification.

Q11: Can UNHCR help me to fill out the resettlement country application forms?

A11: Unfortunately because of lack of staff, UNHCR cannot help you to fill out the resettlement country application forms.

Q12:  If I am accepted by a resettlement country, what can I do to avoid any exit problems?

A12: If you have been registered with the Turkish authorities in the satellite city where you were told to register and reside when you came to Turkey and if you have received residence permit to live in Turkey, in principle, there will be no problems for the exit procedure. Residence fees may be applicable and should be paid by refugees subject, however, to provisions of the law.

D.Voluntary Repatriation

Q1: What is voluntary repatriation?

A1: Voluntary repatriation is the preferred long-term solution for the majority of refugees in the world. Most refugees prefer to return home as soon as circumstances permit (generally when the reasons that forced the refugees to leave their country of origin have disappeared). UNHCR encourages voluntary repatriation as the best solution for refugees, if the return to the country of origin is safe and there are conditions for the reintegration of the refugees in their country of origin.

Q2: I am a recognized refugee and would like to return to my country. What should I do?

A2: Please contact the UNHCR Offices in Ankara, Van or the HRDF Office if you are in Istanbul and inform about your wish. UNHCR will interview you to understand if your decision to return is truly voluntary. UNHCR will also interview your spouse and other family members in order to hear if they agree with the decision to return. UNHCR will also provide you with information on your country of origin related to the safety of your return. The information is collected from different reliable sources and could also include information received from the UNHCR Office in your country of origin. Once UNHCR is satisfied that you can return to your country of origin in safety and dignity, and you confirm your and your family members willingness to return, the Office will ask you to sign a declaration stating that you wish to return. You will be required to approach the Foreigners Police in your city of residence to withdraw your asylum application with the authorities and obtain the necessary exit permission.

Q3: Can UNHCR assist me financially if I want to return to my country of origin?

A3: UNHCR may be able to provide you with some transportation assistance in a form of a ticket (non-refundable). After individual assessment, you may also receive a small repatriation grant. UNHCR can assist you to obtain the necessary travel documents from the Consulate of your country of origin (in case you and your family members do not have valid travel documents).

Q4: Can UNHCR assist me upon my arrival in my country of origin?

A4: In some countries, UNHCR has reintegration programs for the returning refugees and if there is a program available in your country, you can benefit from the activities. The programs are usually designed to benefit the whole community, not individuals directly. Even if there are no reintegration programs in your country of origin, UNHCR can inform the local UNHCR office about your return and they will inform you if some support will be made available.

Q5: I am an asylum-seeker and would like to return to my country of origin. Can UNHCR help me?

A5: If you are not a recognized refugee by UNHCR (your asylum request is still pending or it has been rejected by UNHCR) the Office will also provide you information on the conditions in your country of origin but will not provide you with any material or financial assistance, but may provide you with some transportation assistance in a form of a ticket (non-refundable).

E. Living in Turkey

Q1: How much money do I need to live in Turkey?

A1: It is very difficult to give exact amounts because the cost of living is different in different cities in Turkey. In some cities there is more assistance available than in others, but you cannot choose your own place of residence.

In general, per month a family of four persons has to have approximately:

- 250 Turkish Liras (TL) for a rent of a very basic 2 bedroom apartment

- 100 TL for electricity, water, telephone and other costs

- 400 TL for food and

- Ikamet permit fees are decided at the beginning of each year. You can get more up to date information from the Aliens Police in your city. In total you will probably need around 750 TL per month per family for a very modest life in Turkey, excluding the ikamet cost.

Q2: I dont have any money left. How can I survive in Turkey?

A2: If you are registered in a satellite city, the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation (SASF) might be able to help you. Ask the foreigners police and other refugees in the city, or check from the list of NGOs, if there are any non-governmental organizations providing assistance in your province. As all the organizations funds are really limited, you will probably need to combine several options to make a living, as no single organization can provide for all your needs.

Q3: How can I apply for assistance in my city?

A3: In most of the cities, you need a referral letter from the foreigners police in your city to write an application to the Social Solidarity and Assistance Foundation. They might come for a house visit when deciding on your application. You might be able to get food, clothing, coal and other kind of in-kind assistance, in some cities also cash assistance. In some cities, the Municipalities or civil society organizations also have assistance possibilities - click here to see the list of NGOs. The foreigners police in your city know the local assistance possibilities and you can kindly ask them to guide you in your problems.

Q4: I have to pay for the ikamet (residence permit), but I do not have money. What can I do?

A4: Residence permit and residence fee are regulated in the national laws and regulations of Turkey. The relevant laws also regulate the conditions for exemption from residence fees (ikamet). As informed in our information leaflets, if you are not able to afford to pay for ikamet fee, you should write a petition and submit it to the Governorate. The petition formats are available in the most commonly used languages on www.unhcr.org.tr. UNHCR has, and continues, to raise this issue with the Turkish authorities. It is expected that there will be substantial liberalization in regard to the collection of residence fee for those who are unable to pay these fees in the near future.

Q5: How can I work legally in Turkey?

A5: The issuance of work permits is determined according to the national laws of Turkey. The request to facilitate the granting of work permits to refugees has been conveyed to the national authorities. Detailed information on access to employment can be found in the UNHCR Information Leaflet on Access to the Labour Market.

Q6: How can I make a financial assistance request to UNHCR?

A6: If you are a recognised refugee, your situation can be assessed in a social assessment interview. Sometimes you are asked to come to the UNHCR office or you for the interview but it might also be called by telephone. You can also fax or send a letter with a request for a social assessment interview. Remember to include your case number and accurate telephone number.

Q7: Does every refugee get monthly financial assistance from UNHCR?

A7: Unfortunately UNHCR cannot assist all the refugees in Turkey financially. Also to receive assistance is not a right. Around 20% of the recognized refugees are receiving regular UNHCR assistance, and the monthly amount is not enough to cover all your needs in Turkey. In the coming years, the assistance from UNHCR is likely to further decrease, as funds are limited. The Turkish Governments and the civil societys role continues increasing. Assistance from UNHCR is always dependant on the funding UNHCR is able to collect from the different donors.   
To understand your situation, an interview is made, where you will be asked questions related to for example your finances and cost of living in Turkey. It is important that you tell the truth in the interview. UNHCR shares the list of the persons receiving assistance with the Turkish authorities and partners, and hopes that the other organizations are able to help the persons that cannot receive assistance from UNHCR.

Q8: How long does it take to get a decision after the social assessment interview?

A8: If your situation is very urgent, you might receive the result the same day. Usually, the results are given within 2 weeks of the interview, but on exceptional situations, you might need to wait up to 4 weeks for the result. 

Q9: How can I get the result of the social assessment interview result?

A9: The assessment interview results are put on the UNHCR website http://results.unhcr.org.tr/ or http://sonuclar.unhcr.org.tr/. To access your information, you need your UNHCR case number and date of birth.

Q10: I am accepted for financial assistance. How can I collect the assistance?

A10: You can collect your financial assistance in the city where you are registered from the contracted banks. Click here for the list and addresses of the banks. At the bank, you will need to present your ID with a photo or UNHCR letter of concern. You can learn the date of payment from the website. Under normal circumstances the payments start on the 11th day of each month and continue for 5 working days.

Q11: I have been rejected from financial assistance. What can I do to make another request?

A11: If you are a recognized refugee, you can ask for another social assessment interview 3 months after being rejected. If you are an asylum-seeker, you can ask for another interview 6 months after your previous interview.

F. Health

Q1: Im sick and need to see a doctor. Who can help me?

A1: At present, only persons who have obtained status from the Ministry of Interior are included under the national social security scheme and their expenses of medical treatment can be covered under the general health scheme. However, any urgent treatment in the emergency rooms will be provided, regardless of a persons status or the medical insurance coverage of the person coming to the emergency room. However, any further treatment that may be needed is not considered to fall within the scope of emergency. For medical treatment needs, asylum seekers should approach the Foreigners Departments for necessary referrals. Assistance can only be provided to persons residing legally in their designated city, who have received the foreigners ID number which is given upon registration with the police. In regard to the provision of medical and social services, UNHCR would also like to urge refugees and asylum seekers to contact UNHCRs implementing partners in the cities so that they can assist on an individual basis according to the needs and resources available.

Q2: A doctor has prescribed me medication, but I dont have money to buy it. Who can help me?

A2: You have to approach SASF and NGOs in your satellite city and give a petition for assistance. You can approach to UNHCR IPs, ASAM or HRDF in your satellite city for information. In case you are rejected by SASF please contact UNHCR for possible assistance.

Q3: I am not registered with the police. How can I get medical or any other assistance?

A3: According to the system in Turkey, you need to be registered with police and hold a valid residence permit to be able to benefit from any kind of state assistance.

Q4: I am suffering from psychological problems and need help. What can I do?

A4: In most of the cities, there should a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist working at the state hospital. To get an appointment, you need to follow the same steps as for other health services. Sometimes there are also psychologists at the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHEK) in your city.  

G. Education

Q1: Can my children go to school in Turkey?

A1: In order to register your children to school, you should be registered with the police. The Provincial Educational Directorate can refer you to a school in your neighborhood.

Q2: My child needs a school uniform and I dont have money to buy it. Who can help me?

A2: You have to approach SASF and NGOs in your satellite city and give a petition for assistance. UNHCR has been providing one time education assistance per semester in case a student paper is sent to UNHCR. You can approach to UNHCR IPs, ASAM or HRDF in your satellite city for information.

Q3: My child is considered as a guest student because of not having any documents. Is it correct?

 

A3: If you are registered with the authorities and you child attends the school regularly, he/she should be considered as a regular student. In case you child is considered as a guest student, please approach to IPs, ASAM or HRDF in your satellite city or contact UNHCR for follow up.

 

Q4: My child has not been provided a school diploma at the end of the school year. Is it correct?

 

A4: If your child is registered and attends the school regularly and if he /she is successful to complete the last school year, a graduate diploma should be issued for him/her. In case of facing any problem please approach to IPs, ASAM or HRDF in your satellite city or contact UNHCR for follow up.

Q5: I have many difficulties in my daily life because of language problems. Where can I learn Turkish?

A5: There are Public Education Center (Halk Egitim Merkezi) in each city that organizes Turkish language courses for foreigners free of charges. If you are willing to attend such courses, please approach to UNHCR IPs, ASAM or HRDF in your satellite city for registration procedures.

Q6: Can I attend vocational training in Turkey?
A6: Yes, you can. The Public Education Centres offer different trainings (computer classes, carpentry, hair dressing, carpet weaving, etc.) free of charge, and you get a certificate after the training. Developing your professional skills is highly recommended, and they will be beneficial for your future in which ever country you end up living in.

E. Foreigners ID Number

This number is issued to you once you have a valid residence permit. This number is essential for your access to services ranging from health to education.