Turkey witnesses 181% surge in visa complaints: Germany tops the list

Turkey witnesses 181% surge in visa complaints: Germany tops the list
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The growing issue of visa rejections and appointment unavailability for Turkish citizens seeking entry into EU countries has reached alarming levels, as indicated by data from Turkey's Sikayetvar platform.

SENGUL COX- According to the data from the Sikayetvar platform of Turkey, visa complaints increased by 181 percent compared to the same period last year. The highest number of complaints were directed towards Germany.

The escalating issue of visa rejections and appointment unavailability for Turkish citizens seeking entry into European Union (EU) countries continues to draw attention. Recent data shared by the complaint resolution platform Şikayetvar has shed light on a staggering increase in visa complaints, surging by 181 percent compared to the same period last year.

Especially concerning Schengen visas, which are required for travel to many European countries, individuals are facing prolonged wait times for appointments, forcing many to cancel their plans. This surge in appointment demand is typically observed in the lead-up to the summer season. However, officials' statements regarding visa matters have remained repetitive, failing to offer a solution.

In the first five months of 2023, Şikayetvar recorded a total of 3,067 complaints related to visas. Comparing this figure to the same period last year, complaints have risen by a significant 197 percent. Specifically, complaints against embassies and consulates have increased by 181 percent.

Furthermore, when comparing the first five months of 2021 and 2022, complaints regarding visa and intermediary firms have witnessed a staggering surge of 752 percent. Notably, Germany emerged as the embassy with the highest number of complaints, further highlighting the issue's gravity. The month of May marked the highest volume of complaints, with 830 consumer grievances related to visas.

Reports from DHA emphasize several recurring complaints, including lengthy appointment wait times, inadequate and flawed services provided by visa intermediary firms, difficulties in communicating with such firms, failure to honor agreed-upon contracts, unfair collection practices, and non-refundable payments. Unjust visa rejections by embassies and consulates also rank among the most frequently raised concerns.

The increasing wave of visa complaints not only reflects the frustrations faced by individuals seeking to travel but also underscores the need for improved processes and enhanced communication channels between visa applicants, intermediary firms, and embassies.

As the situation continues to unfold, it becomes imperative for relevant authorities to address the mounting challenges faced by visa applicants, facilitating smoother and more transparent visa application processes.

VISA APPLICANTS EXPRESS FRUSTRATION: AN INSIDE LOOK AT “SIKAYETVAR” COMPLAINTS

Visa procedures can often be a source of stress, both psychologically and financially, as demonstrated by the increasing number of complaints received by Şikayetvar. Individuals seeking visas have voiced their grievances, shedding light on the challenges they face. Some applicants have expressed frustration due to long waiting times for appointments, while others have encountered rejections based on questionable grounds. Let's delve into a selection of these complaints and gain insight into the issues plaguing the visa application process.

IT IS VERY STRESSFUL BOTH PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND FINANCIALLY

“On February 10, 2023, I applied for a family reunion visa at the German Consulate. It has been over 4 months, and I am still waiting for an appointment. When I contacted the intermediary firm, they said the appointment could take 6-7 months. Visa procedures and their outcomes already take a long time, and my spouse and I have been living apart for months. Please schedule the appointments. This process is very exhausting both socially, psychologically, and financially.”

THIS IS RACISM

“Despite having a valid work permit document, my visa application to the Polish consulate was rejected. They claimed that my work invitation was not credible. This is discrimination and racism against Turks. They don't want Turks to come, but their own people can easily enter Turkey. These people are racists.”

OUR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION WAS REJECTED

“Our Schengen visa application for Greece as tourists was rejected. The Greek consulate is not refunding our fee. As Turkish Republic citizens, we urgently request support from our government in this matter. We know that there has been an increasing number of complaints in the public regarding this issue.”

THE ACCOMMODATION DID NOT PROVIDE CONFIDENCE, AND THEY REJECTED THE VISA

“Although I have previously obtained Schengen visas twice and made entries and exits to and from 19 Schengen countries, my visa has now been rejected. They rejected it because they did not find the accommodation reliable. Even though I included my Disneyland ticket in the documents, the result was a visa rejection. This is an unfair and unjust practice.”

I WAS DENIED DUE TO MY ACCOMMODATION NOT PROVIDING A SENSE OF SECURITY

“I have previously obtained a Schengen visa twice. Despite entering and exiting 19 countries, most of which are Schengen countries, I have now been denied. The reason for the refusal was the lack of confidence in the accommodation. Even though I included my Disneyland ticket in my documents, the result was still negative.”

I PAID MORE SERVICE FEES THAN VISA FEES AND GOT DENIED

“I have never seen such a terrible visa agency. My US visa was denied because they claimed my documents were incomplete. They charged more for service fees than the visa fee itself and didn't even provide an explanation. I deeply regret it.”

WE DO NOT DESERVE THE TREATMENT FROM GERMANY

“My tourist visa application with my spouse was rejected. Our companies here employ 140 people. We have no intention of going anywhere or running away. We do business with many German companies. Some parts of the equipment we produce are imported from Germany. Despite such a business partnership, this is the first time we have encountered something like this. We do not deserve the treatment we received from Germany. We immediately appealed the visa refusal. We are aware of the workload of the consulate, but we have been waiting for approximately 1.5 months for a decision. As far as I know, according to the German constitution, family members have the right to meet. If we receive another negative response, I am not considering giving up. I will use all the rights granted to us by the law. At least we may set a precedent and prevent anyone else from experiencing such treatment.”

I'VE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A POLISH VISA FOR 5 MONTHS

I have been trying to obtain a Polish visa for exactly 5 months and 13 days. However, I have not come across any available appointments. Now, they have made a new update on the entry screen, and the OTP verification system greeted me and successfully verified, but then I couldn't log in again. First, it said my password was incorrect, and I lost my first chance. Then I sent another SMS, and I lost my second chance as well. Since I had only one chance left, I did not log in again and waited. After 2 hours, when I tried to log in again, I encountered an error message. Then I waited for another hour, and this time it said, "Your account is locked." People are being ridiculed and delayed in every way possible.

I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR WEEKS

“For weeks, I have been unable to make an appointment for various reasons on their system. Even though I entered the verification code sent to my phone correctly three times, it says my account is locked. It says that the mandatory field cannot be left blank once that is resolved. If nothing is entered, it says to try again after three hours because I exceeded the maximum number of attempts, but all of these issues stem from the mediocrity of their websites. Even though I reached their emails, the responses I received were like "clear your cookies." I tried to log in on 5 different browsers, including incognito mode. The error is definitely on their website, and I still cannot get an appointment. I request the resolution of my grievance.”

I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR AN APPOINTMENT FOR 1 MONTH AFTER BEING ACCEPTED TO THE UNIVERSITY

“Exactly one month ago, I was accepted as a medical student in the summer research group at Charles University. But I have not been able to get an appointment at all. My family and I have been mobilized for days, checking the system every hour from 3 different accounts. Please help, I am very anxious and hopeless as a student. I am waiting for your assistance, at least help me create an appointment. Previously, every time I tried, they only gave dates for early June, but now the system is not even opening.”

I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION SINCE JANUARY

“I applied for a Family Reunification Visa on January 19, 2023. It still says "waiting for assignment." My spouse went to Germany. I gave up my home because I didn't know the process would take this long and I am staying at my parents' place. This situation has greatly exhausted me. I request your assistance.”

MY WORK APPLICATION WAS REJECTED BY THE FRENCH CONSULATE

“My work visa application for France was rejected by the Consulate. Despite my employer in France obtaining approval from the French Ministry of Labor and us signing a mutual employment contract, it was still rejected. I had completed all the required documents and passed the health examination at OFII, yet they provided a document that did not clearly explain the reason for refusal. I will appeal, preserving all my rights.”

OUR INTENTION WAS SIMPLY TO VISIT OUR FAMILY

“The Schengen visa application for our children to Germany was rejected. You cited reasons 13 and 10 for the refusal. Because I have permanent residence in Germany, my children's visas are consistently denied. This is absurd. Our intention was simply to visit our family and attend my brother's wedding. Even in this situation, my children's visas were denied. This is a very bad situation. Germany boasts about human rights, but where are those human rights, I wonder.”

OFFICIALS ARE DENYING VISAS ARBITRARILY

“Despite having all the required documents for a work visa in France, I was denied because they believe there is a chance I won't return after one year. How can they predict that I won't return after one year? Moreover, I have an indefinite employment contract with a company in France. The officials there are denying visas arbitrarily. They are rejecting them without any basis or providing justifications.

NOT BEING ABLE TO GET A VISA AS AN ACADEMICIAN IS HUMILIATING

I received a rejection for the Greek visa under Article 3. All my documents were prepared perfectly. I also showed 1000 Euros in my account for a 5-day trip, and all the reservations were confirmed. The intermediary agency charged me 20 Euros for their service, yet they didn't mention any document-related deficiencies, and the appeal process is almost impossible. I lost 1000 Euros, and I don't want to apply for a visa again. It is humiliating as an academician not to be able to get a visa and not to be given a tangible reason for the rejection.

I COULDN'T BE WITH MY WIFE WHO WAS GIVING BIRTH

“The Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands rejected my request for a short-stay visa to be with my wife, who was about to give birth, twice. However, I filled out the forms with VIP customer representatives and employees. They assured me that everything was complete. I provided my wife's birth certificate along with the documents, and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior Institution even confirmed it with my wife's obstetrician, but they still rejected the visa. What is the reason for the rejection? In their response, they said that I did not specify the reason for my visit. However, I even submitted a letter. All of this is documented, and I informed the Consulates in Istanbul and Ankara, yet the same inhuman, heartless attitude has been repeated.”

Germany has become a focal point of discussions surrounding Schengen visas in recent years, particularly in relation to visa applications from Turkey. Media reports have highlighted a concerning increase in the rejection rate for Turkish citizens applying for visas at German representations, reaching approximately 20 percent. These figures align with the annual statistics released by the European Commission, revealing a steady rise in rejection rates for Schengen visa applications from Turkey. In 2017, the rejection rate stood at 6.5 percent, but by 2022, it had surged to 15.7 percent, surpassing the 20 percent mark for applications to Germany specifically.

Comparatively, data from 2014 indicated a rejection rate of around 6 percent, underscoring the magnitude of the recent shift. The reasons behind this mounting trend and its implications for Turkish applicants seeking entry into Germany have prompted discussions and raised concerns among both countries' populations.

In Schengen visa applications from Turkey to Germany, the rejection rate has exceeded 20 percent in 2022. Statistics shared in the German media indicate that this rate was around 6 percent in 2014.

GERMAN OFFICIALS REFERRED TO MARAŞ EARTHQUAKES

German officials, in an interview with DW Türkçe, also referred to the Maras-centered earthquakes as a factor causing delays in visa procedures, stating the following:

"Our diplomatic missions in Turkey have focused on visa applications from those heavily affected by earthquakes until the end of April. Due to the priority given to the applications of earthquake victims, the evaluation of other visa applications has been lessened, leading to a significant increase in waiting times across all categories. However, since the beginning of May, more emphasis has been placed on evaluating other visa applications, and more appointments have been given to applicants outside the earthquake zone."

The officials stated that they have initiated efforts to address these delays. The German Foreign Ministry also stated that additional assignments have been made to the representations in Turkey, emphasizing that a noticeable reduction in waiting times for visa appointments is expected in the future.

THEY DO NOT SHARE DATA ON THE REJECTION RATE

The German Foreign Ministry and the German Embassy in Ankara shared the same data, stating that approximately 100,000 Schengen visas and 18,000 national visas were issued to Turkish citizens between January and May 2023. The ministry's statement also indicated that in the same period of 2022, 60,000 Schengen visas and 16,000 national visas were issued. However, neither the ministry nor the embassy shared data on the rejection rate.

EU SHARED DATA

Regarding allegations that Schengen visa applications are deliberately rejected or delayed, the EU's Head of Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, responded by stating that Turkey had the highest number of Schengen visa applications throughout 2022, and "when we look at the rejection rates, Turkey's rejection rate is below the world average." He said, "We see that Turkey's rejection rates have decreased compared to previous years. The rejection rate in 2022 decreased by 15 percent compared to 2021." Meyer-Landrut emphasized, "It should be well known that the European Union does not have a policy to prevent Turkish citizens from obtaining visas."

TURSAB PRESIDENT: REJECTION RATES DOUBLED

Firuz Bağlıkaya, the President of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), stated, "In 2023, the rejection rates have almost doubled. According to the feedback we received from the market in 2023, this rate has reached nearly 50 percent. It demonstrates that Turkish citizens' visa rights are being restricted completely politically and systematically."

ERDOGAN SAID 'WE WILL SOLVE IT'

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his intention to resolve the visa issue immediately following the second round of presidential elections, saying:

"We will resolve the visa issue, which has recently been used as political blackmail, as soon as possible."

VISA CRISIS EXTENDS BEYOND SCHENGEN BORDERS

Finally, it was reported that the Schengen visa issue in the business world has also spread to visas for Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It was stated that after European countries and the U.S., the rejection rate in visa applications to the UK and Canada from the business world has started to increase. Bulgaria, which does not accept Schengen visas, also introduced the requirement for Turkish drivers to obtain a visa in bilateral transport.

PASSPORTS INSPECTED WITH MAGNIFYING GLASSES

It was revealed that Dutch police have been inspecting the passports of passengers traveling from Turkey to the Netherlands with magnifying glasses for minutes.

REJECTIONS OCCUR DUE TO UNREGULATED CITIZENSHIP FOR FOREIGNERS

According to a senior diplomat from the European Union (EU), the problem stems from foreigners being able to obtain Turkish citizenship without proper scrutiny or supervision.