USA and Turkey resume full visa operations

The US Diplomatic Mission to Turkey has confirmed the resumption of full visa services in the country with the Turkish authorities following suit, ending a mutual disruption of service that commenced in October.

All non-immigrant visa services in Turkey - including student visas - were initially suspended following the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee, which local media reports suggested was in relation to the failed coup of 2016.


Limited operations were resumed in November, with the U.S. Department of State promising that student visas would be one of the prioritised visa categories, along with humanitarian and medical visas.


In a statement published at the end of December, the U.S. Mission to Turkey said that the Turkish government had adhered to high-level assurances that no additional local employees were under investigation and that staff would not be detained for performing official duties.


"Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey," the Mission said.


"We continue to have serious concerns about the existing allegations against arrested local employees of our Mission in Turkey. We are also concerned about cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency. U.S. officials will continue to engage with their Turkish counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution of these cases."


Reacting to the announcement, Eren Goker, President of Turkish agency association UED, said, "Full resumption of US visa services was not a surprise from our side. This is something we were all expecting. However, we were expecting the suspension period not to take that long. Therefore, all the agencies in Turkey sincerely welcome the decision of the resumption."


In StudyTravel Magazine's regular surveys of Turkish agencies and UED's annual member surveys, the USA is generally the second-most popular destination for clients of Turkish agencies behind the UK.


Commenting on the impact of the dispute and the disruption of visa services on the Turkish market, Eren said, "Apart from the enrolment cancelation which were very few in terms of numbers, bigger damage for the future might be to the reputation of [the USA as a] destination from Turkish students' and their families' point of view, because some of our prospective students had concerns about facing same kind of suspension in future."


He added that as a result of this, parents were likely be cautious in ensuring that service fully returns to normal before committing to studying in the USA.


"As a matter of fact, demand for US is still very strong at the moment; families immediately started asking for summer schools in the US right after the resumption decision. However, because of the reason that we have tried to explain above, it will be logical to expect student numbers which are a bit less than the real potential of the destination."



By Matthew Knott

News Editor