E2, B and other Visas – Update from the Consular Office Istanbul, Turkey

From time to time we can provide most up to date information from different Consular Posts across the globe. The following update is from the US Embassy in Istanbul Turkey and is provided by our AILA liaison committee. Here are the questions and answers:
What are the scheduling/interview waiting period for NIV appts (Turks)? Scheduling waiting period for NIV appts (Iranians)? Times of year that waiting generally increases?

Current wait time for an NIV appt. is approx. 15 days for Turkish nationals. Ankara is
approx. 30 days. Spring time (March thru early July) normally results in a longer wait for NIV appts due to summer work/travel program applications (very popular in Turkey, which ranks only second to Russia in its SWT volume) and tourist visa issuance.

As is the case for Turks, Iranians are only scheduled up to one month in advance. However, the demand for Iranian visa appointments far outstrips supply. When Iranian appointments open up for the following month, they are taken within a few days. Therefore, call towards the end of a given month, and there may be openings available for the month after the incoming month.

What is the current Farsi speaking staff available for interviews?

There is no assigned Farsi speaking consular officer in Istanbul post, nor has been for many years. Therefore if an Iranian applicant cannot speak English or Turkish, post will attempt to use other consulate staff who may speak Farsi to act as translators. Availability cannot be guaranteed.

What is the Post’s acceptance of third country nationals for NIV processing (Iraqis?)

In addition to Iranians, Istanbul s regularly schedules non-resident third country national (TCN) applicants. Iraqis (for example) are welcome to try to book those slots. There are only approx. 10 non resident TCN slots available per week, but unlike the case for Turkish or Iranian appointment slots, TCN appointments have never become backlogged.

Explain the special considerations for E visa processing. Most common preparation
omission/errors for E visa cases? Outlook of “substantiality” factor for E visas at post? How is post looking at “marginality” at a time of economic crisis?

Istanbul post does not get a significant load of E visa applications as do posts such as London. Therefore there is not a dedicated E visa officer, nor is there company registration because Istanbul sees few repeat applications associated with any particular entity. Most E visa applications in Istanbul are family owned/operated businesses. They tend to be an investment of a couple $100k at most, involving relatively few personnel in areas such as restaurants or marble importers. If the investment is less than $100k, it is no surprise that there will be quite a bit of scrutiny, however there is no firm line given that the industry, how new the business
is, and its locality are all highly relevant.

They reiterate that if there is a COS (Change of Status) to E status in applicant’s possession, it is important to remind applicants that there will still be a full adjudication of the visa status eligibility. One must remember that an approval from USCIS does not guarantee a visa by the Consulate abroad. They will still require a full review and adjudication of the visa, and Istanbul is not an exception to this rule.

Regarding marginality in a time of economic crisis, even if there is poor revenue currently, if there was growth before the crisis, this is a positive factor and will be considered. We suggest clients to submit cases with a strong business plan that has a 5 year projection as well 3 year back performance for acquired businesses.

B visa adjudications for pregnant mothers? What should be provided above and
beyond a standard B visa applicant? B for dependent parents? Domestic Partners?

Istanbul post is not opposed to B visas for a pregnant mother as long as she is otherwise eligible. They would prefer that a pregnant mother disclose this at interview and show that she will not be a public charge. Therefore, as long as this can be overcome, planning to give birth while in lawful B status would not be grounds for denying a B visa. Post rarely sees B visa applications for domestic partners/dependent parents of those in H/L/E, etc status.