By Gokhan Ergocun
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey has received over 250 applications for citizenship through investment worth nearly $100 million as of the end of 2018, according to the head of a mediation firm.
Citizenship applications to Turkey are expected to boom in 2019 as the country eased its conditions in September, Akin Atalay, CEO of VIPTurkishPass, told Anadolu Agency.
A significant amount of foreigners that come to Turkey aim to benefit from the right of citizenship by purchasing houses, he said.
The housing sector, which reached the income of $4.8 billion from foreigners in 2017, is expected to sell houses to foreigners worth $10 billion as of the end of 2018, he underlined.
Atalay said people from Arabic countries, Iran and Turkic republics show the most interest in buying real estate in Turkey, and underlined that there is also heavy demand from European countries, "contrary to popular belief".
"Ten of thousands of British, German and Russian people have houses in Turkey. Most of them decide to have dual-citizenship when they see the social opportunities in Turkey," Atalay stressed.
He also said foreigners are mostly interested in Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort city Antalya and industrial city Bursa.
- Equal rights with Turkish citizens
The Interior Ministry responds to the citizenship application in 45 days if the documents are complete, Atalay said.
He noted that the naturalized Turkish citizens will have equal rights with the other Turkish citizens such as tax and insurance premium discounts as well as government support.
"Several countries from all around the world have similar citizenship programs to attract people with education, investments and entrepreneurship," he highlighted, saying qualified work-force and high capital investments were basic factors for development.
"We want to bring people from all around the world to invest in our country and be a partner of our success story," Atalay said, adding that Turkey tries to attract investments from foreign countries through the citizenship regulation.
He also said that foreigners should cooperate with a local expert and trusted partners as the application process is "sensitive".
Atalay said the U.S. grants citizenship with an investment of $500,000 and a five-year wait; Germany with a €250,000 ($287,000) investment; Canada with an investment of $400,000 or $800,000 deposit; and Greece with a house purchase worth $250,000.
Turkey's conditions are easier; foreigners can acquire the citizenship instantly by investing $250,000, he added.
Foreigners who invest $500,000 in Turkey, deposit $500,000 in Turkish banks or buy real estate worth $250,000 acquire the right of lifetime citizenship.
Foreigners who commit to keep their investments, deposits or real estates for at least three years earn the right for citizenship instantly.
Meanwhile, the right for citizenship can also be used for the families — spouse and children under 18 — of the investors.
Previously, these limits were $2 million for investment, $3 million for deposit and $1 million for real estate.