Record number of foreigners with residence permits leave Turkey in 2023

Data by Turkey’s Migration Management Presidency revealed that 250,000 foreign residents left Turkey in 2023, breaking the COVID-19 period record of 214,000.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Migration Management Presidency published its 2023 data regarding foreign residents.

The report indicated that the number of foreigners with a Turkish residence permit was 1,107,032 in 2023. The number indicates a 250,000-people decrease in 2023 compared to 2022, marking Turkey's largest decrease in foreign residents. The numbers include foreign nationals who obtained short-term, study, family, or “other” residence permits in 2023. 

The decrease in 2023 broke the previous record of 2020 marked by the pandemic, when 214,377 foreign nationals with residence permits had left the country, according to reporting by the daily BirGün

The number of foreigners with resident permits started to increase in 2011 with the onset of the Syrian civil war. Turkey had more than one million resident foreigners in 2019. As universities closed and workplaces switched to remote working in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of residents returning home increased. 

Following the pandemic, 427,000 permits were issued in 2021, marking the highest number of residence permits issued by Turkish authorities in a year. 2022 was the year with the highest total number of foreign residents with 1,354,094. 

Over the last year, 247,062 foreign residents living in Turkey’s various provinces had to leave the country. The highest rate of exodus was recorded in Istanbul with 148,555 foreign residents leaving, followed by the Mediterranean Antalya province with 44,383 and the capital Ankara province with 14,248. These provinces also have the highest foreign resident numbers in Turkey.

The directorate ranked the five nationalities that obtained the most Turkish residence permits in 2023 as Turkmenistan, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Turkmenistan nationals obtained around 109,000 residence permits, and the other countries closely followed. 

According to economy news outlet, among the reasons why foreigners left Turkey were the cost of living crisis, along with the international sanctions on the Russian Federation, the conscription of young Russian males, and increased selectivity in the residence permit process. 

The Turkish Interior Ministry on July 15 announced that it would no longer grant a residence permit to foreigners residing in Istanbul except in “compulsory cases such as life safety, health, education, and international trade,” until further notice.