Entrepreneurs from Turkey who have set up businesses in the UK via the EU-mediated European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) visa scheme (also known as the Ankara Agreement) have launched a High Court battle against the Home Office’s overnight decision to change their settlement requirements and to apply the changes retrospectively to existing visa holders. The case will be heard on Thursday 7 March 2019 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Until 16 March 2018, Turkish business owners were able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after four years within the ECAA visa scheme, without paying an application fee.(1) Following a sudden and retrospective rule change, more onerous requirements for ILR were introduced (five years of residence, an application fee of £2,389 per person, as well as passing language and Life in the UK tests).(2) This means a family of four now has to pay nearly £10,000 in application fees in order to obtain ILR.

At a permission hearing held on 27 November 2018, the Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople (AOTB) – a not-for-profit campaigning group representing the 12,500 Turkish nationals (3) affected by the changes – were given the go-ahead for a full judicial review hearing by the Honourable Mrs Justice Yip on the ground that the policy changes were arguably in breach of the legitimate expectations of those Turkish entrepreneurs who are already in the ECAA scheme. A crowdfunding campaign is ongoing to cover the group’s legal costs, and £100,000 has been raised in seven months.

Leni Candan, founder of the AOTB, said:
"Changing the rules in the middle of the game is unfair and unlawful. We hope the High Court will recognise this and put an end to the distress the Home Office has caused for thousands of people.”

Yaşar Doğan of Redstone Solicitors who’s representing the AOTB, said: “These policy changes are in breach of the legitimate expectations of those affected. A considerable number of Turkish nationals had subscribed to the scheme with the expectation that they would qualify for settlement once they had completed four years’ residence in the UK. With this expectation, some of them sold their businesses in Turkey, some sold their homes; others gave up their established careers or attractive alternative prospects. The sudden policy change which was introduced at midnight on 16 March 2018 with immediate effect has defeated their legitimate expectations.”

For more information and for interviews please contact:
Leni Candan -


Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople LTD is a registered limited by guarantee company in England and Wales. Company Number: 11368987