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Foreign-born population – 2018

2.3 million, 53% women

2% of the population

Main countries of birth:

Bulgaria (16%), Iraq (12%), Germany (12%)

In 2017, Turkey registered around 466 000 new immigrants (according to official statistics from TurkStat) of whom 364 600 were foreign nationals. Over the year, the inflows of Turkish citizens decreased by 5 300 people and those of foreign citizens increased by 90 700. Slightly more than 50% of inflows of foreign citizens were male while the proportion stands at approximately 58% for Turkish immigrants.

The number of international students enrolled in Turkish universities is growing rapidly and reached 125 000 in 2017/18. This represents a 16% increase compared to the previous year and five times the figure observed at the beginning of the 2010s. Syria has been the main country of origin since 2016/17, and in 2017/18 one international student in six is Syrian (20 700). Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan follow with 17 000 and 12 000 students, respectively, and the number of German students has increased sixfold since 2016/17 and stood at 4 000 in 2017/18.

Iraq (97 100 new entries), Afghanistan (37 800) and Syria (28 200) were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2017. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Iraq registered the strongest increase (+26 200) and China the largest decrease (-3 100) in flows to Turkey compared to the previous year.

In 2018, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by 32%, to reach around 83 800. The majority of applicants come from Afghanistan (53 000), Iraq (20 000) and Iran (6 400). The largest increase since 2017 concerned nationals of Somalia (300) and the largest decrease nationals of Iraq (-25 000). Of the 81 000 decisions taken in 2018, 6% were positive.

According to the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), around 3.7 million Syrian refugees were under temporary protection in Turkey at 4 April 2019. The number of sheltered Syrian refugees stood at 140 000. Almost 1.7 million of the total were minors.

Emigration of Turks to OECD countries increased by 12.5% to 74 000. Approximately 45.8% of this group migrated to Germany, 8.2% to the United Kingdom and 6.7% to France.

The number of workers sent abroad by the Turkish Employment Agency, which had declined regularly from nearly 58 000 in 2012 to less than 20 000 in 2017, has rebounded very sharply (+26%) to stand at 25 000 in 2018. In particular, Uzbekistan, Germany and Kuwait witnessed increased inflows of Turkish workers. The main destination countries in 2018 remained the Russian Federation (13%), Algeria (11%) and Saudi Arabia (10%). In 2016, the top three destination countries were Iraq (17%), Algeria (16%) and Saudi Arabia (8.5%).

In December 2018, Turkey lowered the investment thresholds for its citizenship-by-investment schemes, first introduced in 2017. Turkish citizenship is obtainable by investing USD 500 000 (or equivalent) in fixed capital (previously 2 million), a Turkish bank account or government stocks or bonds (previously 3 million), or – a new possibility – in venture capital or a real estate investment fund. Citizenship is also available if the foreign investor creates jobs for at least 50 Turkish nationals (previously 100 jobs) or invests at least USD 250 000 in real estate (previously 1 million). Investments must be held for at least three years.

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Key figures on immigration and emigration - Turkey
Key figures on immigration and emigration - Turkey

Notes and sources are at the end of the chapter.


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