‘Turks spend 100 mln euros annually on Schengen visa’
Turan Yılmaz - ANKARA
Turkish people spend some 100 million euros annually to obtain Schengen visas, an expert has said, amid a period when Turkish citizens face increased scrutiny of their visa applications and have to wait for months to get an appointment date.
While the non-refundable visa application fee is 120-125 euros on average for European countries, the application fee for the United Kingdom may vary from $130 to $1,105, depending on the visa period. For trips to the United States, this fee costs about $200.
“Though the duration varies according to each country, an appointment can be made after two or three months. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused this density,” said Ayhan Zeytinoğlu, the head of the Economic Development Foundation (İKV).
Noting Turkish citizens pay a Schengen visa fee of 100 million euros annually, Zeytinoğlu said, “This is a non-tariff barrier that prevents competition.”
On the other hand, experts providing consultancy services on visa procedures say that as it takes up to three months to get a visa appointment, it disrupts travel plans and causes difficulties for thousands of students waiting for a visa to enroll in schools abroad, as well as the business world, which is preparing for the fair traffic that will accelerate in September.
“Visa applications have increased a lot recently as everyone now wants to go abroad, whether they are unemployed, skilled or uneducated,” the experts said.
This has almost turned into a migration, according to the experts. “The increase in applications brings along the prolongation of the process and the delay in appointments, resulting in an increase in the rate of visa refusals.”
“Some of the people we get visas for don’t return to Türkiye, which results in a meticulous scrutiny of applications,” an expert said.
According to the report Ziya Altunyaldız, a deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), of which he is a member, Schengen visa refusals of Turkish citizens rose from 4 percent in 2014 to 12.7 percent in 2020. Altunyaldız said the mandatory European visa is used as a politically motivated sanction tool.
Altunyaldız criticized the attitude of the EU on this issue. “The member countries should give up on this.” He hopes that his report, which was accepted by the commission, will be presented to the General Assembly and will become a commission recommendation.
Pointing out that giving appointment dates months later, especially for those who need to go for education, health, or work in a short time, causes great grievances, CHP lawmaker Utku Çakırözer said, “Even transit visas have turned into a problem as it can take months before a visa is granted to go to another continent through Europe.”
Saying that the Foreign Ministry is indifferent in the face of these problems, which is unacceptable, Çakırözer said it should step in.