Getting Turkish Citizenship through Marriage
Av. Gökhan Cindemir
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This article explains obtaining Turkish Nationality through marriage. It focused on acquisition of Turkish citizenship passing through by spouses. Accordingly in this articles, it is aimed at explaining the conditions of getting citizenship under Turkish Nationality Law.
In the beginning of Turkish Republic, acquisition of Turkish citizenship was only passing through Turkish husband to foreigner wife. The concept of equality in genders was not a dominant principle governing Turkish Family Law. In last decades of 20th Century, it’s been debated that change of citizenship depending gender of spouse is also discrimination among genders.

European Citizenship Agreement is an act as a reflection of prevention on said discrimination. According to this agreement, there were two main issues which are agreed by the European Countries.

1. Discrimination arising from genders must be demolished
2. Marriage cannot directly affect the citizenship of spouses 

Because there were some provision in the content of European Countries which automatically led woman spouse to lose her citizenship by marrying with foreign husband.

Therefore, European Countries which ratified this agreement guaranteed their nationals that they cannot lose their nationality through marriage.

It’s also known that obtaining nationality through marriage can cause fake marriages. Accordingly, many countries changed their certain provision in order to prevent obtaining citizenship via fake marriages.

In consideration of Turkish Legislation concerning acquisition of Nationality, the act of Turkish citizenship Law entered into force in 1964 stating that “foreigner women who marries with Turkish citizen can obtain Turkish citizenship.”
Hence, in the past if foreigner men married to a Turkish woman, he did not have any chance to obtain Turkish citizenship due to the provisions mentioned above.

This discriminative provision is changed with the new act on Turkish Nationality Law. In addition, getting nationality automatically through marriage is also amended with the new law. Now there are new criteria envisaged for acquisition of Turkish citizenship through marriage. 

1. Validity of marriage : If spouses married in foreign country, the marriage must be valid in the country of law where spouses married
2. Living together in family union
3. Not taking any action which is not convenient to family union during marriage (simply prostitution, woman smuggling) 
4. None of any actions against national security and public security
5. 3 years duration of marriage limit
6. Presence of a healthy marriage pending case during citizenship application

After citizenship application, these criteria shall be determined via commission established in the administrative body of demographic affairs.
As can be seen that government has discretion to accept applicant for citizenship. Therefore, after application it is not guaranteed to be granted to Turkish Nationality. Upon application for citizenship, commission shall publish a report based on examination of criteria’s. This report shall be sent to the interior ministry.

Special Situations: 
In case that Turkish national spouses passes away during application status of marriage, this application must be concluded. On the other hand, if there was not application at that time, then citizenship opportunity shall not be possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Atty. Gökhan Cindemir
He graduated from Anatolian High School of Karadeniz Eregli, after his graduation he studied in Belgium with AFS intercultural exchange program. He obtained his law license degree from Marmara University of Law Faculty. During his university education, he participated in Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition on behalf of the Marmara University. After his admission to Istanbul Bar Association in 2009, he obtained master degree (LL.M) from Gent University / Belgium in the field of European and Comparative law. His master research was about Freedom of Establishment In Relation With Turkish rep. and EEC in the frame of Ankara Agreement. He is specialized in International Private Law, European Law, Real Estate Law, Penal Law and Tort Law. He speaks fluent English and has good command of Dutch and French. He is also authorized as a solicitor, barrister.