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Turkish Visa

Anyone know what I can do about a Turkish Visa? I have flights booked for Istanbul for this Christmas holiday. I went to apply for an evisa on the Turkish government website and was told they are not issuing visas anymore to U.S. citizens. Anyone know what I can do? I have a lot of money invested in the flights and really want to go.

Posted by
6610 posts

I've been to Turkey three times with no issues, but had no idea what transpired recently until I saw your post and Googled it. This is really recent news.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-08/u-s-suspends-non-immigrant-visa-services-in-turkey-after-arrest
https://twitter.com/USEmbassyTurkey

Unfortunately, all you can do is hold tight and hope there are some adults in the room who will work to resolve this tit-for-tat diplomatically by the time of your trip.

Posted by
1910 posts

Interesting development. I wonder what Rick will do with the already fully booked Turkey tour next Spring. I am so happy I went when I did!

Posted by
230 posts

When I went to Turkey five years ago, you could get a visa at the airport. You simply paid $20 cash and the guy put the visa in your passport. There was a long line and he didn't even make eye contact or ask any questions. I guess the process has changed now.

Posted by
1792 posts

I hate to hear this as I'm booked on the RS Turkey tour in October! As someone said, perhaps it will be worked out as tourism is important to Turkey, especially American visitors. I will be so disappointed but at the same time, do not want to be a hostage.
I do trust Rick Steves to make the right decision if this visa thing stays in place. So, I still hope I will get to experience Turkey.

Posted by
340 posts

I went to Turkey a few years ago before all this nonsense started. The Turkish people are wonderful.

It's a shame that diplomatic relations are left to politicians. I think most Americans and Turks would get along fine.

As I read this, it seems one can still get a Visa at the Istanbul airport. However, Americans can't get one ahead of time using electronic methods or by visiting the Turkish embassy. But, it's really not clear in the articles I have read so I may be wrong.

Posted by
35 posts

Don't get me wrong, I'm not concerned about safety at all. I've traveled to Turkey before and always found the people wonderful. And I have about 3 trips over the next year where I will be transiting through Istanbul (no visa needed for that, unless I need to leave the airport for some reason). But I have a big family Istanbul trip coming up with different family members arriving from different locations. I hate to just wait and see if we can get a visa upon arrival. Hopefully, some grown ups will join the U.S.A./Turkey negotiation table and it will be resolved soon. I just don't know what my options are.

Posted by
6610 posts

I would definitely not count on Visa on arrival if there is an outstanding official policy not to grant a Visa, unless you have something in writing to the contrary. You'll likely end up stuck at the airport and denied a stamp for entry, at which point you'll be really in a bad spot.

Turkish Air is already loosening its rules for flight changes and refunds through the end of October (see statement below..sorry, I can't provide a direct link because their website has major issues). I'm sure they'll update this for future months as more info becomes known for months beginning in November. They can't predict the future either so it looks like they're cautiously taking it one month at a time.

"Dear Passengers,
Due to the recent developments, some changes have been made on Turkey-USA and USA-Turkey visa application processes. These changes do not affect passengers transferring to connecting flights in Istanbul.
Excluding passengers transferring to connecting flights in Istanbul; for all passengers holding Turkish passports flying to the USA between October 12th, 2017 and October 31st, 2017, and all passengers holding American passports flying to Turkey between October 9th, 2017 and October 31st, 2017 on Turkish Airlines and AnadoluJet flights, with tickets issued on or before October 9th, 2017, the following procedure can be carried out till October 31st, 2017:
For Turkish passport holding passengers:
1) Reservation changes can be made free of charge.
2) Refund requests:
a) Refunds can be issued for tickets which have not been used.
b) On tickets which have been partially used, a refund for the unused portion of the ticket can be issued.
3) Extension of ticket validity:
The validity of tickets can be extended to October 31st, 2017 (inclusive) without paying any price difference or penalty.
4) These implementations are applied to only Turkish Airlines and AnadoluJet flights.
For American passport holding passengers;
1) Reservation and route changes can be made free of charge.
2 Refund requests:
a) Refunds can be issued for tickets which have not been used.
b) On tickets which have been partially used, a refund for the unused portion of the ticket can be issued.
3) Extension of ticket validity:
The validity of tickets can be extended to October 31st, 2017 (inclusive) without paying any price difference or penalty.
4) These implementations are applied to only Turkish Airlines and AnadoluJet flights.
Turkish Airlines, Inc.
Media Relations"

Posted by
5011 posts

Unless you are about to head for Turkey in the next few days, I'd suggest you just step back from the freak-out ledge and relax.

This is all about politics and posturing. The politics of this are complicated. But (as someone who is planning to visit Istanbul next July) I see it this way: yes, this is unfortunate and a surprise, but I suspect cooler heads will prevail eventually, if not fairly soon. Give it some time to settle.

Turkey's tourist-based economy is already down, and this will make the financial impact much worse. OTOH, the US "needs" Turkey's cooperation in a variety of international "defense" matters (not the least of which include fighting ISIS and controlling immigration to Europe). So while both sides feel aggrieved right now, they both have great interest in smoothing things out. I suspect in a matter of days or weeks things will improve a bit.

Personally, I'm not canceling my flights to/from IST next summer.

Keep calm and carry on.

Posted by
7205 posts

"I do trust Rick Steves to make the right decision if this visa thing stays in place. So, I still hope I will get to experience Turkey."

News for you: If Turkey doesn't give you a Visa there's nothing "Rick Steves" can do. If Turkey denies you a visa RS will have to either change your tour or you give you a refund.

Posted by
39 posts

I just returned from Turkey last week everyone was kind and welcoming. There was never a concern for my safety or worried about being kidnapped as someone posted.

I trust the Points Guys research.

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/10/some-americans-can-enter-turkey/

Update 10/10/17: TPG reader Richard S. was able to speak with the Turkey Consular Hotline by calling +90 312 292 2929. I called this number using my Google Voice account, and the call cost 4 cents per minute. A friendly agent picked up right away and was happy to address my questions, including:

  1. Can US citizens enter Turkey with previously issued visas? (Yes)

  2. Can a US citizen apply for a visa using a passport issued by another country? (Yes)

  3. When will the visa ban be lifted? (Unknown, as expected)

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/10/visa-suspension-causes-chaos-for-american-travelers-to-turkey/

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/10/us-turkey-suspend-visa-services/

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/10/fly-turkish-airlines-without-visa/

https://thepointsguy.com/airline/*turkish/

Posted by
7251 posts

If you have not already done so, contact your airline about refund/rescheduling.

As some have noted above, folks have been restricted to the airport. Depending on the airline or the circumstances yet to develop, you could be stuck at the airport there, or denied boarding at your airport here in the US.

I suggest you investigate your options now and not just wait and hope it works out before your travel date. The sooner you know your options, the sooner you can make an informed choice.

Good Luck.

Posted by
35 posts

After I saw that Points Guy article on facebook, I did email the Turkish Foreign Affairs office as well. And they did confirm that as long as we were not coming directly from the United States, we will be issued a visa upon arrival. And since we are transiting through Amsterdam and my parents through Munich, that works out great. Problem solved!

Posted by
6610 posts

Doesn't this have more to do with your citizenship as listed on your passport than where you're transiting from?

Posted by
1792 posts

I am booked for the RS tour of Turkey in October 2018 and received an email from RS advising us that they believe the situation will be resolved between our two governments before the first tour departs in spring next year. That said, they suggested we wait for a few weeks before making our air arrangements.

I called the office after I received the email and asked how many people were signed up at this date for the October tour and was told, 15 people are booked. The woman I spoke to said it is likely these are people who wanted to go last year when the tours were pulled by RS. She expects our tour will be a "go", all things considered. This news makes me happy as I really want to go.

Posted by
7251 posts

I have the same question/skepticism as Agnes. Seems odd Turkey would make a decision about issuing a Visa based on where you got on the plane. ( rather than your US citizenship). "Lost in translation" is the phrase that pops into my head, regarding OP's communication with the Turkish authorities.

Was at the RS office this past week( to sign up for a tour, [not Turkey]) and asked about the Turkey 'situation'. My understanding of what was said (and reading between the lines) is, at this point they are keeping an eye on events, have not hit the panic button, but are not using permanent markers for anything Turkey.

Posted by
14241 posts

Out of curiosity, I went to the TripAdvisor Turkey Forum and read through this thread. There are multiple reports of US passport holders being able to buy Turkish visas on arrival at Istanbul for $30. The caveat is that you must arrive on a flight that does NOT originate in the U.S. There is some confusion over whether you need to 1 stay at least 24 hours in another country or [2] go through immigration in another country without staying overnight or [3] changing planes and staying airside.

If you're planning a trip to Turkey and want to fly Turkish Air, you could book a multi-destination trip - pick a city, TA flies to just about every major, and a lot of minor, airports in Europe. You will have to fly to IST to change planes to your first destination.

Posted by
35 posts

Agnes and Joe,

Below is the email response that I received from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"e-Visa application has been suspended for US citizens. You can obtain a visa upon arrival, only if you travel to Turkey from a country other than US. (Transit passengers are also not eligible for visas upon arrival. For example NYC-PARIS-ISTANBUL )"

Posted by
7251 posts

Well I guess this situation has less logic and reason to it than I thought, and is more like a couple of 4 year kids kicking dirt at each other.

Hopefully nothing changes ( for the worse) before your trip and you and your family can have an enjoyable trip

Happy travels!

EDIT-- After re-reading the email copy you provided, it seems the Turkish official is saying, there is no visa available for those US citizens who 'transit' through a European city.

(Transit passengers are also not eligible for visas upon arrival. For example NYC-PARIS-ISTANBUL )"

If it were me, I would follow up with them ( Turkish authorities) to learn just what you have to do to be eligible for a visa. ( As Chani mentions, there may be some minimum stay requirement in some non-US city to be eligible)

Posted by
35 posts

And of course less than a month before my trip, Turkey has now eliminated the Visa loophole of entering from a different country. I was really hoping they would resolve this by now. Istanbul is such a wonderful place and I really wanted to show it to the rest of my family.

Posted by
7251 posts

I hope the airline will give you a refund.

Your post of Oct 28, contained the info that you could NOT get a visa by entering from a 'transit' airport.

(Transit passengers are also not eligible for visas upon arrival. For example NYC-PARIS-ISTANBUL )"

The 'loophole' did not suddenly go away. It seems it never existed, based on the email you got from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which you quote in your Oct 28 post. ( I tried to bring this to your attention, as it looked like you had missed it)

Posted by
35 posts

@Joe,

The fact is that there have been MANY U.S. Citizens that have been given new visas into Turkey since the ban by traveling from non U.S. countries. I have both read articles about it and have had friends experience it first hand. On Nov 20th the Turkish government released an update that changed this policy. You seem to be speaking from assumptions rather than any actual insight. I'm really not looking for peoples feelings about this, but actual information.

Posted by
5011 posts

I'm really not looking for peoples feelings about this, but actual information.

If you're looking for "actual information" - that is, something you can rely on - I'd suggest you view anything posted on internet forums (including this one) with some skepticism.

The situation is fluid, and will likely change (probably many times) in the coming months. Getting official information from official sources would be a good idea. Right now, getting a visa is extremely problematic at best, perhaps impossible. The potitical situation which spawned the current kerfuffle is highly charged (to put it mildly) and has the potential to either be resolved or get much, much worse at a moment's notice. There's no way to know. How comfortable are you with uncertainty?

I had tickets to/from Istanbul for a trip next summer. I just canceled those a couple days ago. Why? Because even though I think there's a pretty good chance that the visa issue will be resolved before my trip in June, I think it's just as likely that it won't - and I can't afford to take that gamble. Canceling my flights now cost me nothing (because of the visa situation, my airline waived all the fees they would normally charge). And it's early enough (relatively speaking, for a trip next June) for me to make alternate arrangements, which I have now done (my trip wasn't really a trip to Turkey, we're going to eastern Europe, and I was just going through Istanbul, where we planned to spend a few days). I've now booked other flights that will work, and we will enjoy a few days in Poland instead of Turkey. Had we waited until later, if we still couldn't get the Turkish visas, we would have to cancel the trip entirely or take miserable/expensive flights.

Bottom line: nobody knows what the situation will be next week, next month or next summer. What someone says they experienced last week may have no resemblance to what you experience. It depends to some extent on world politics (and even on current investigations into the Trump administration - the wild story of the then-US National Security Advisor plotting to kidnap a Turkish citizen who's a resident of the US and secretly deliver him to a Turkish prison...crazytown stuff). I'm not comfortable planning a trip that hinges on such bizarre things, so I pushed the Cancel Flights button and pursued other options. Your comfort level with uncertainty may be different than mine.

The only sure thing right now is there's no certainty. Good luck.

Posted by
6610 posts

There already seems some limited movement on the VISA front
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/politics/us-visa-processing-turkey/index.html

"The United States has resumed visa processing at its embassy in Turkey on a limited basis Monday following a dispute over the treatment of local US staff members.

Turkey reciprocated the move and announced a resumption of limited visa processing at its diplomatic missions in the US via a statement on Twitter."

Posted by
35 posts

Yes, they have started issuing visas, which is very good news. Unfortunately, you must make an appointment and apply in person at a Turkish Consulate. I applied online and was given an appointment at the Turkish Consulate in Vancouver, Canada for next week. However, my parents who live in Michigan applied and were told the earliest the Chicago Consulate (the only consulate even remotely close) could see them would be middle of January. Well after our planned Christmas trip. So, we may just cancel the trip and try again next Thanksgiving/Christmas.

Posted by
6610 posts

Akitson,
So would it make a difference if your parents flew from Canada like you (or you flew together from Vancouver...assuming you live there)? Or is it just infeasible because it really is based on citizenship, not where you're flying in from?

Posted by
2 posts

I have an evisa that was issued before the ban and it is still valid until next March. But I have heard as of Dec. 2,that Turkish customs is no longer accepting valid evisas nor allowing visa upon arrival even if you arrive from a country other than the US. I'm told that you must have a sticker visa from a Turkish consulate. Can anyone verify that this is the case?

Posted by
7251 posts

Were you able to solve the problem of getting a visa or did you abandon going this year?

Posted by
14 posts

I can't see that anything has changed on getting the Visa for a visit from a US citizen to Turkey, but perhaps someone can tell me this for sure. Do we still have to be interviewed at a Turkish embassy here in the US? I don't live near one... Then there is the online appointment to get the interview. Do any of you have experience with this interview? How long did it take you to get the interview? What do they want to know, to see (i.e. documents, etc.)? On the application there are questions, one of which asks Type of Travel Document. The answers are: Alien's Passport, Diplomatic Passport, Ordinary Passport, Other, Refugee Travel Document, Service Passport, Special Passport, Vatansiz Seyahat Belgesi. Sooooo...is a plain 'ol US Citizen Ordinary, Alien, Other or Special or what?

Posted by
35 posts

I did end up cancelling my trip to Istanbul. I could get a visa interview in time, but my parents couldn't where they live. Of course 3 days into what would have been my trip, they reinstate the E visa process. So you now can just go online, pay your 20 bucks and print out a visa from home. Booking a trip for 2018 now.

Posted by
5011 posts

I had tickets to/from Istanbul for a trip next summer. I just canceled those a couple days ago...

Replying to myself a few months ago: Due to an unexpected series of weird airline changes (and airline failures to properly cancel my previous flights returning from Istanbul), now we're tweaking our plans back to include 3-4 days in Istanbul next July. This has been a bit of a roller coaster, but - as long as getting a Turkish visa is easy again (and I think it is) - then I guess I'll be humming Istanbul not Constantinople soon enough.

Now, to start figuring out how to spend 3 full days in Istanbul (which shouldn't be hard).

Posted by
3 posts

I applied for my Turkish e-visa and received it on the same day. My application date was late April 2018.

My visit dates are May 03 - 07, 2018. The e-visa is valid for 90 days. No hangups with the transaction (except for my credit union's debit card...I had to call to unlock it).

Can't wait!!