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Diplomatic Rift Between U.S. and Turkey Prompts Suspension of Non-Immigrant Visa Services in Embassies and Consulates in Turkey

Yesterday, October 8, 2017, the United States and Turkey announced the mutual suspension of all non-immigrant visa services, putting a damper on travel between the two nations, following the arrest of a Turkish citizen, employed at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, on suspicion of espionage.

A statement released by John Bass, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, explained the reasons for the United States government’s decision to suspend non-immigrant visa processing for Turkish citizens. According to the ambassador the suspension will allow the United States, “to minimize the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while we assess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of our diplomatic facilities and personnel.” He continued, “last week, for the second time this year, a Turkish staff member of our diplomatic mission was arrested by Turkish authorities. Despite our best efforts to learn the reason for this arrest, we have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee. . . our colleague has not been allowed sufficient access to his attorney.”

The actions taken by the government are thus in response to Turkish hostility toward U.S. consular employees and an ongoing rift between the two countries regarding U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, accusations of U.S. involvement in a coup against President Erdogan, and the U.S. government’s refusal to extradite former Turkish minister Fethullah Gulen, accused of masterminding the Turkish coup.

Suspension of Non-Immigrant Visa Services

These recent developments mean that beginning October 8, 2017, no new non-immigrant visa applications will be processed in Turkey until further notice, including: B-2 visas for temporary tourism or medical reasons, B-1 visas for temporary business visitors, F-1 student visas, E-1 treaty trader visas, E-2 treaty trader visas, and other non-immigrant visa types.

Ambassador Bass has refused to call the suspension of non-immigrant visa services a “visa ban” on Turkish citizens. Turkish citizens with a valid visa remain unaffected and may continue to travel to the United States. Likewise, Turkish citizens applying for immigrant visas will remain unaffected.

Turkish citizens who wish to apply for a non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States for a non-immigrant (temporary) purpose, may apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Turkey, if free to do so. It is recommended that such applicants first contact the U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Turkey, where they wish to apply for their non-immigrant visa to ensure that their non-immigrant visa can be processed there.

Ambassador Bass adds that, “at this time we cannot predict how long it will take to resolve this matter. The duration will be a function of ongoing discussions between our two governments about the reasons for the detention of our local staff members . . .”

Suspension of Visa Services for U.S. Citizens 

In addition, the Turkish government has suspended visa services for U.S. citizens including issuance of physical sticker visas at border posts, and has suspended usage of the online Turkish electronic visa (e-visa) for U.S. Citizens. The U.S. embassy recommends that U.S. citizens contact their closest Embassy or Consulate in Turkey or Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs with questions. The U.S. Embassies in Turkey will continue to provide services to U.S. Citizens in Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul, Adana, Izmir).

To read Ambassador Bass’ complete statement please click here.

For more information please contact our office at 619-819-9204.