Turkey Announces Several Developments
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in January 2016 a new online visa filing system for consular-issued visas. The new consular visa online system applies to AMS (Assembly, Maintenance and Service) visas and work visas, and those visitors who are not visa-free or E-visa eligible. This new system is not to be confused with the E-visa system for eligible visitors that started in 2013.
Foreign nationals filing Turkish visa applications at a Turkish consular post must now upload their applications and supporting documents online here before their appearance at the applicable consulate. Applicants must select the specific consular post and category of visa for which they wish to apply (e.g., Work, AMS, Student, Intern) and include biographical information. The applicant then selects an appointment date. The applicant will receive an email confirmation reiterating consular filing details for the specific consular post. The email will contain a reference number allowing the applicant to re-log into the system to edit or change the appointment date. The applicant must still submit his or her visa application form and supporting documents in person at the Turkish consular post.
The online system has several glitches and is still being amended frequently.
Proposed Changes in Turkish Visa and Immigration Policy
Meanwhile, proposed changes in visa and immigration policy in Turkey are rife with rumors. These are a result of both deteriorating relations with Russia and pressure on the EU to change Turkey’s visa requirements as it rekindles membership talks. The following is what can be confirmed:
Russian nationals. Despite Russia’s greatly enhanced restrictions on Turks’ entry and work authorization, there have not been reciprocal moves by Turkey. Although this could change in 2016, Russians still enjoy visa-free entry for up to 60 days. Restrictions on work permits are not anticipated, according to unofficial reports.
Syrian work permits. Syrian nationals’ exemption from the 5:1 ratio of Turkish to foreign employees is on the table for removal. Some denials based on this issue are on appeal. A modification of Syrian work permit issuance is anticipated in early 2016.
Eligibility for visa-free and E-visa entry. Turkey has been on an especially long road to EU membership talks. But now that relaxation of visa entry into EU countries for Turks is on the table, the EU has made it clear that Turkey’s visa-free and e-visa regime is problematic for many nations that are required to obtain consular visas to enter the EU. It is anticipated that a significant number of countries will not be allowed visa-free or E-visa entry into Turkey in the long term.
Upgrades to passports and ID cards. Both passports and ID cards (kimlik) are set to undergo production changes in 2016 to meet EU requirements.
The issues summarized above are likely to be subject to many changes in 2016.