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Report on the BRS and the TRNC Director of Immigration Meeting

REPORT ON THE BRS & THE TRNC DIRECTOR OF IMMIGRATION MEETING

HELD AT THE TRNC INTERIOR MINISTRY ON TUESDAY 25TH FEBRUARY 2019

 

General - Many members will be aware of an article in a local newspaper last week that reported on a BRS visit to the Interior Ministry and some wholly unjustifiable, if predictable, follow up responses on a local information bulletin board.

Given the level of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding this particular BRS visit I thought I would give members a brief report on the visit, made to the Interior Ministry at the end February, so members are fully aware of the circumstances.

Background to Meeting - For the past few months members will have been aware from monthly newsletters that the BRS was seeking clarification of the rules on temporary residency directly from the TRNC government as differing interpretations of the rules were starting to appear and we wished to ensure the advice we were giving to members was correct.

After a number of approaches to the Interior Ministry, the BRS was invited to attend a meeting with the Director of Immigration at the Interior Ministry on Tuesday 25th February and Peter Wilkins, the Dep Chairman, and Mike Diplock, the Government Liaison Officer, both attended.

The meeting was hosted by Mr Emre Hacı, Director of Immigration.  Other TRNC Government officials were present at different times during the meeting and Mr Ugur Culhaoğlu, the Immigration Department’s General Legal Counsel relating to immigration to the TRNC was also present throughout.

 

Mr Hacı explained that his department was working on their need to identify numbers and the nationality breakdown of non-TRNC nationals residing in the TRNC as this had an impact across a wide range of decisions that TRNC government need to make.   He further explained that the present recording systems do not allow for this to be easily achieved and that the Ins’ & Outs’ system operated by the Police is inadequate for Immigration Department purposes and is outside their control.

On-Line Student Residency Application - In October 2018 the Interior Ministry introduced an on-line English Language Residency Visa Application scheme for overseas students who were studying and residing in the TRNC.

Each student has ownership of his/her residency application, and using a unique username and password, can monitor the progress of their online application and can receive updates as well as information on any action required via SMS and email.

This new on-line system saw the vast majority of applications completed in around three to four weeks.

Proposed On-Line Residency Application for Non-TRNC Nationals – Mr Hacı informed the BRS that the Immigration Department has been working for some time on introducing an identical on-line Residency Visa Application scheme for all other non-student foreigners.  He confirmed that the Interior Minister was already undertaking a full review of all qualifying conditions for residency and that the project is under discussion within the wider TRNC Government.

Draft Policy – Mr Hacı confirmed that a draft policy was still a month or more away and that prior to implementation, he would provide a copy of the draft to the BRS so that timely feedback could be provided.

The actual timeframe will depend upon the results of the ongoing review and any resultant changes being approved by the Council of Ministers.

The following factors were confirmed:

  • The new policy will require all foreigners, regardless of age, to apply for temporary residency if staying beyond the permitted 90-day period of a tourist visa.
  • The current residency age exemption concession will not be removed but will instead be formalised.
  • No medical examinations will be required for those currently holding residency age exemptions.
  • A final decision on what future age the residency age exemption will apply from has not yet been decided but is likely to rise from the current age of 60.  The lower exemption age limit would be reduced from 18 to 16.
  • It is likely that an ‘amnesty’ will be available for those who are outside the ‘system’ but no details will be available until the draft policy is published.

The BRS was grateful to Mr Hacı and his team for their openness and transparency regarding their new immigration policy initiatives and for taking the time and trouble to personally brief the BRS team. 

 

The TRNC Government is clearly entitled to review its immigration rules and regulations from time to time, including previously granted concessions, and we can only applaud the on-line approach which should simplify and speed the process for all applicants.

 

When the time comes, the BRS will also be grateful for the opportunity to review the draft policy before implementation and to be able provide the TRNC Government with considered feedback from an ex-pat perspective.

For those members who will be wondering how any future changes might affect them, the simple answer is that no one knows at this stage what the final policy will look like.  It is simply too early to tell, and it would be wrong to try and second guess the TRNC Government on this. 

If, as we expect, the BRS is asked to comment on the policy document at the drafting stage, we will be aware of the importance of giving a considered response and will endeavour to consult as widely as possible within any given time restraints before responding.

Danny Dugan

BRS Chairman