No End in Sight for U.S.-Turkey Visa Battle

by Richard D'Ambrosio
No End in Sight for U.S.-Turkey Visa Battle

Photo: Shutterstock.com


With no end in sight for the diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey, various publications are reporting that the cessation of new travel visas to Turkey is beginning to impact American travelers.

The U.S. and Turkey suspended issuing new travel visas between the two countries on Oct. 8, putting a damper on future travel bookings from the U.S. to the popular leisure destination. Anyone with a current visa can travel between the countries, and travelers seeking visas on humanitarian grounds are reportedly still obtaining them, according to some news reports.

But travelers and other media report a rising number of tourists being stopped and turned back at airports and other border crossings, while other travelers are canceling their trips outright.

$30 visa-on-arrival program is a way in
Contributors to various websites, including TripAdvisor and “The Points Guy,” report that Americans can enter Turkey from another country using the visa-on-arrival program, which costs $30.

On Trip Advisor, “enigma,” a commenter with a Level 6 rating and listed as a Turkey destination expert, has been advising Americans to use the multi-entry, 180-day visa-on-arrival. “Simply come to Turkey from any country outside U.S. and get you(sic) visa-on-arrival. It costs 30 USD. There are plenty of posts of American citizens getiing(sic) a visa-o-arrival,” wrote “enigma” on Oct. 23.

This advice was backed up by the personal encounter this week of JT Genter, The Points Guy’s points & miles writer. Genter described his successful though sometimes confusing entry this week with a visa-on-arrival obtained at the Istanbul airport.

He also included in his post an emailed response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supplied by one of his readers. It described current visa policies, but included this final paragraph: “e-Visa application has been suspended for U.S. citizens. You can obtain a visa upon arrival, only if you travel to Turkey from a country other than U.S. (Transit passengers are also not eligible for visas upon arrival. For example, NYC-Paris-Istanbul).”

Travel plans for half a million people could be disrupted
In an Oct. 20 article, The New York Times reported the disruption has begun for a half million annual travelers from the U.S. to Turkey.

The Times quoted Matthew Bryza, a former U.S. ambassador and chief executive of Lamor Corporation in Turkey, saying “It is having some impact on people’s plans for the mid- to long-term.”

Meanwhile, the Harvard Crimson ran a story quoting Mark C. Elliott, Harvard’s vice provost for international affairs, saying “it will be very difficult for students or faculty who want to travel to Istanbul or anywhere else in Turkey to study or do research. I don’t know how you’re going to get your visa.”

Talks continue, but no resolution has been reached
Negotiations between the countries last week bore no new breakthroughs. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan R. Cohen, traveled to Turkey for four days, dedicating a whole day to the travel visa issue. State Department officials described the talks as productive, but there were no announcements last week about resolving the issue.

In fact, Turkish officials continued a war of words.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the U.S. uncivilized, for arresting presidential body guards who participated in the beating of protesters in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

Additionally, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the media that Turkey bristled at U.S. “impositions” during the conflict. Speaking at a press conference last week with Portugal, Cavusoglu described the Trump administration’s diplomatic approach as "immature.”

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