How to Apply for Asylum in Turkey

Picture yourself at a pivotal crossroads where your safety and well-being, and perhaps that of your family’s, hinges on one crucial decision: seeking refuge in a foreign land. This scenario, which many might consider distant, is the everyday reality for thousands of individuals currently seeking a safe haven. Turkey has emerged as one of those sanctuaries, not just due to its strategic location but also because of its relatively open stance towards asylum seekers. But how does one initiate this process? What do you need to know and do to apply for asylum in this country that bridges the East and West? In this article, we will guide you step by step through this intricate journey, breaking down every essential component you need to reclaim control of your future.

Understanding the Legal Framework

Before diving into the specific documents and steps, it’s critical to understand the legal context of asylum in Turkey. Turkey adheres to the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees, but with a “geographical limitation” that recognizes only those from Europe as refugees. However, for non-Europeans, Turkey has established “temporary protection” or “subsidiary protection,” which also offers safe harbor.

Who Can Apply for Asylum?

The right to seek asylum is open to anyone fleeing persecution or violent conflict, but the status granted may vary depending on the applicant’s origin.

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Initial Steps

Upon arrival in Turkey, the first step is to express your intention to seek asylum to the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) as soon as possible. Here begins a process that can be lengthy and complex but is critical for ensuring your protection.

Necessary Documentation

Personal Documents

Documentation is paramount in this process. You should present any identification you possess: passports, identity documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates, or any other official document that can help establish your identity and narrative.

Evidence of Persecution

Here, precision and honesty are vital. You must provide any evidence supporting your claim of persecution: police reports, testimonials, news articles, medical documents in cases of torture or mistreatment, and so forth.

Registration with the DGMM

How and Where to Register

You must register at the nearest DGMM office to your arrival location. This step is crucial and should be done within a maximum of 10 days after entering Turkey.

Initial Interview

You will be assigned an interview where you must explain your case and reasons for seeking asylum. Here is where you present all your documentation and prepare to answer questions that can be very detailed about your situation.

After Registration

Asylum Seeker Identification Document

Once registered, you will receive an identification document that recognizes you as an asylum seeker. This document is essential for accessing basic services and for your legal protection in Turkey.


The Turkish government will assign a city or town where you must reside while your application is being processed. It’s important to know that you cannot choose this location and must remain there until a decision is made on your case.

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Rights and Responsibilities

Access to Services

As an asylum seeker, you have the right to basic health and education services. You also have the duty to comply with all Turkish laws and regulations while in the country.

Work Permit

Obtaining a work permit is a common concern, but it is possible to acquire one after six months from the date of registering your asylum application with the DGMM.

The Decision and Possible Outcomes

Processing Time

The processing time for applications can vary. It’s difficult to provide an exact timeline, but preparing for a lengthy wait is prudent.

Positive Outcomes

If your application is approved, you will receive international protection and can legally reside in Turkey with access to more rights and services.

Negative Outcomes

If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. This is a legal process that should be taken seriously and ideally, with the assistance of an attorney.

Appeals and Legal Resources

The Appeal Process

If you need to appeal a negative decision, it must be done within the specified time limits. Here, obtaining legal advice is crucial.

Legal Assistance

There are non-governmental organizations and support groups that can offer advice and legal assistance to asylum seekers in Turkey.

Keeping Hope Through the Process

Applying for asylum is a path filled with uncertainty but also a path towards security and a better future. It is important to stay informed, seek support, and be proactive throughout the process.

This article has been an introduction to the complex process of how to apply for asylum in Turkey. Through this journey of words, we’ve covered everything from the legal framework to the practical details of the asylum application, all with the aim of keeping your interest and providing you with the necessary information to move forward with your application. Remember, information is your right and your most powerful tool in this process. If this is the path you’re considering, we wish you strength and courage in your quest for a new beginning.

Maya Martinez

Legal advisor for immigration processes. In addition to providing support in the legal procedures, I offer integral and informative support in relation to the obligations that are acquired when arriving to a new country.

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