Some 200,000 foreigners work unregistered in Turkey, according to recent reports by accountants’ chamber. Employers derive more than 1 billion liras per year by not paying insurance premiums these workers, it says
Many foreign illegal workers, who are employed in construction business, stay at the building sites, while some stay at houses of those who came earlier, a report says.
The number of foreign illegal workers in Turkey was about 200,000 last year, leading to undeserved gains exceeding 22 billion Turkish Liras derived by the local employers in the last 15 years, according to a report by the Istanbul Chamber of Certified Public Accountants (İSMMMO).
A total of 350,000 legal and illegal immigrants entered Turkey, 150,000 of which use the country as a transit route to target countries, according to the report. The number of temporarily residing illegal immigrant workers who actively work is around 200,000, the report says. And they are paid 55 to 60 percent less than local workers.
“Foreign illegal workers have been made one of the significant pillars of the unrecorded economy and unfair competition,” said Yahya Arıkan, the president of the İSMMMO, adding that inspection has failed to prevent wrongdoings in this field. A mere 3,010 people were found to be foreign illegal workers by labor inspectors in 2011, he added.
Employers derive more than 1 billion liras per year by not paying social insurance premiums for foreign illegal workers and evading income tax. Those workers earn on average $250 a month, which means employers pocket nearly 180 liras
of the net minimum wage per worker, or a total of 432 million liras per year.
“The visa regime that took effect on February 1 will make a significant contribution to preventing illicit work. Most of the illegal workers are employed in housework, patient or child care in Turkey. Measures have to be taken along borders and at border gates where refugees, transit and illegal worker immigration take place,” Arıkan said. They are also employed in a large array of sectors including textiles, entertainment and mining.
The new regulation allows foreign citizens entering the country with a tourist visa to stay in Turkey for three months, after which time they will be obliged to wait for another three months abroad before re-entry. Before the new regulation, many foreigners made “visa runs” to neighboring countries, exiting Turkey after their 90-day visa ended and then immediately re-entering with a new 90-day visa. Those who employ foreigners for housework are entitled to obtain work permits for their employees for one year the first time which can then be extended for two and three years.
Georgians top list
There are three forms of residences of foreign illegal workers. Groups of workers may gather and rent an apartment, or stay with friends or relatives who had previously come to Turkey. In a third form they live in the houses where they do housework or simply in workplaces. The largest group of the foreign illegal workforce is from Georgia, followed by Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 271.2 million foreign nationals have entered the country in last 15 years, while the number of those who left the country remained at 266.7 million.