USA and Turkey resume 'limited' visa operations

The U.S. diplomatic mission has recommenced "limited" visa operations in Turkey with student visas among the prioritised categories after a recent dispute that suspended services for one month, with the Turkish following suit and allowing visa applications from American citizens.   

The initial suspension of services followed the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Turkey at the beginning of October.


In a statement issued this week, the U.S. Mission to Turkey said it had received "initial high-level assurances" that no other employees were under investigation. "Based on these preliminary assurances, we believe the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey," the U.S. Mission said, although it outlined concerns about the ongoing case against arrested local employees.


The U.S. Mission also issued a statement to Turkish agencies, which has been shown to StudyTravel Magazine and confirms that applications for F-1 and M-1student visas and J-1 exchange visas can now be processed at consular sections.


"We hope that this news helps with your ongoing efforts to recruit students, particularly for the Summer Work and Travel [J-1] program. You are welcome to share this information with your students and sponsors. We wish you a productive season and good luck with your business," the statement to agents said.


In a fact sheet on the resumption of visa services, the U.S. Mission says that as processing is currently on a limited based "a reduced number of appointments will be available". StudyTravel Magazine has requested further clarification on the reduction. 


During a U.S. State Department press briefing on November 7, Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, "We are prioritising - we're only able to do this on a limited basis right now, but we are prioritizing medical, humanitarian, and also student visas in those cases." However, she declined to answer a question about how many visas would be issued.


Gokhan Islamoglu, Coordinator of Turkish agency association UED, said that he believed there would be a limited number of interviews available on a priority basis.


Nonetheless, Gokhan welcomed the resumption of visa services. "We all are realistic and do not expect everything to turn normal just in one minute, so this is a really good news and has created an optimism about the future."


In the fact sheet, the U.S. Mission advised applicants not to make any travel plans until they physically receive a visa, adding that any appointments that were cancelled during the suspension of services can now be rearranged.


Students that may have applied for a visa at an embassy or consulate outside of Turkey have the option of continuing with that appointment or rescheduling in Turkey. However, the statement makes clear that fees already paid are not transferable between countries or refundable and that students would have to pay an application fee for a new appointment.


Following the move from the U.S. Mission, the Turkish Embassy in the USA has similarly resumed limited visa services, meaning US students can apply for visas to study in Turkey.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor