The policy of neutrality and "open doors" adopted in Turkmenistan, drastic reformation of the economy and political stability increased the inflow of foreigners, entrepreneurs, diplomats, representatives of international organizations, foreign companies, tourists, people studying in high education establishments of Turkmenistan and also people coming on private base to Turkmenistan.
There is a distinct national normative-legislative basis, which defines the legal status of foreign citizens in our country in accordance with international norms in this sphere. Nevertheless it is necessary to point out that regulating this or that sphere of social life of any democratic, legal state consists of both local legislation and the norms of international law.
The Constitution of our state says that Turkmenistan is a full-fledged subject of the international community and recognizes the supremacy of international law. The Constitution of the state declares that foreigners and persons without citizenship have the same rights and freedoms as the citizens of Turkmenistan, unless stated otherwise by the law, in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The Constitution of Turkmenistan also guarantees granting refuge to foreign citizens prosecuted for political, national and religious convictions in the countries of their origin. The above-mentioned guarantee of providing a refuge is defined in more details in the Law of Turkmenistan "On refugees", which includes the main provisions of the UN Convention "On the status of refugees" which Turkmenistan acceded to on July 10, 1997.
The legal status of foreigners in our country, defined by the Constitution, is regulated by special legislature including the Law of Turkmenistan "On legal status of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan" according to which a person is recognized as a foreign citizen if he is not a citizen of Turkmenistan and bears a proof of being a citizen of foreign state.
The legislature of our country guarantees equality for foreign citizens in Turkmenistan regardless of their origin, social and material status, race or nationality, sex, education, language, religion, gender and occupation and other circumstances. Foreigners staying in Turkmenistan must respect the Constitution and abide by the law of our state, treat with respect our national traditions and customs of the Turkmen people.
The legislature of Turkmenistan defines the rights, freedoms and obligations of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan. Among the main rights and freedoms of citizens defined by both international and national legal norms protection of rights occupies a special place.
The law "On legal status of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan" clearly stresses that foreigners in Turkmenistan have the right to appeal to court and other state bodies and also diplomatic and consular representations of their states to seek protection of their personal, material and other rights. Foreigners have equal with the Turkmen citizens rights for procedural law in court.
Alike the citizens of Turkmenistan foreigners and people without citizenship can become subjects of the civil legal relationship in Turkmenistan.
Labor legislation of Turkmenistan gives foreign citizens permanently residing in our country the right to work as labor force or office servants in establishments, offices, organizations or to be engaged in other working activity. Foreigners staying for a short time in Turkmenistan can work in our country if it is consistent with the purpose of their staying and their working activities do not contradict to the legislature of Turkmenistan.
The terms and procedure of issuing a permission for invitation and accommodation to work are defined by the special Regulation approved by the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan. Permissions are given for 1 year and can be extended by the sides of contract but for no longer than 1 year.
Foreigners working in our country have the right to labor protection, the right to recreation on equal footing with the citizens of Turkmenistan. They have an access to medical institutions and medical services in accordance with the legislature of Turkmenistan.
The laws of Turkmenistan guarantee foreigners an access to education, to achievements of culture, the freedom of religious services and confession. In fact the Regulation on foreign citizens tuition in Turkmenistan says that the higher education establishments of our country admit foreigners regardless of their race, nationality, sex, language and religion.
The legislature of our state provides foreign citizens with the right to own a house and other property, inherit and legate property, have the copyrights on works of science, literature, art, inventions, industrial designs and also other material and personal nonmaterial rights in Turkmenistan.
The right to own a house and other real estate is clearly confirmed by the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan "On selling of apartments and rent of trading spaces in high-storey apartment buildings of high comfort". This act like other norms of national legislature gives foreigners the right to buy real estate in Turkmenistan.
The issues of entrance, exit and stay of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan is regulated by the special Regulation, approved by the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan. According to this Regulation foreigners enter Turkmenistan with valid passports and visa. The visa is given upon submitting a written request of receiving organization, personal invitations or other reasons, stipulated in international agreements of Turkmenistan.
The issues of registration in the places of stay of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan fall within competence of the newly established State Service of Turkmenistan on registration of foreign citizens.
Foreign citizens have the right to obtain residence permission in Turkmenistan.
The reasons for obtaining residence permission in Turkmenistan are as follows:
- Turkmen nationality;
- Marriage to a citizen of Turkmenistan;
- Having close relatives in Turkmenistan;
- Arrangement of trusteeship over a citizen of Turkmenistan according to practice;
- Investment of no less than US $500 000 in the Turkmenistan economy;
- High professional skills, achievements in science, art and sports that could serve the interests of Turkmenistan.
The right to get residence permission is also given to citizens of CIS states and persons without citizenship from CIS states that were registered in Turkmenistan before the visa regime with CIS states took effect.
A foreign citizen can be granted residence permission in Turkmenistan for a definite period of time or permanent residence permission. Those who obtained residence permission enter and stay in Turkmenistan without visa.
The legislature of Turkmenistan also regulates relation of foreigners to electoral franchise and military service.
According to the law of Turkmenistan "On legal status of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan" foreign citizens in Turkmenistan cannot take part in elections and be elected to the elective state bodies and take part in national referendums. They also do not serve in the Military Forces of Turkmenistan.
Peace, neighborly relations, mutual respect are inalienable elements of democracy and progress. That is why Turkmenistan continues to pursue "open door" policy declared in the first days of independence for those who come with good intentions, respect traditions and customs of the Turkmen people.
Head of the international legal relations Department,
Ministry of Justice of Turkmenistan.