Many Turks miss job and education opportunities, are unable to visit friends and family abroad or jet off on vacation in Europe recently, as refusal rates for Schengen visas have increased almost fivefold since 2014.
A 23-year-old Turkish woman faced “complete disappointment” when she was rejected a visa to enter the Netherlands in July after working tirelessly to earn a spot at her dream internship.
She is one of countless Turkish students whose hopes of studying abroad or interning at a company in Europe are being crushed by a staggering increase in Schengen visa rejections.
The student, who requested anonymity as her appeal is still in process, tells TRT World that she believes the European Union (EU) countries are “punishing” Türkiye by shutting their doors to Turkish nationals due to unjustified concerns.
“The visa issue seems to have turned into a weapon in their hands, and they do not hesitate to victimise Turkish citizens,” she says.
Schengen visa refusal rates for Turkish nationals have spiked almost fivefold since 2014, according to Schengen visa statistics.
In 2021, at least 239,099 people from Türkiye applied for a form of Schengen visa and 30,444 were rejected, at a refusal rate of over 16.5 percent compared to 4 percent in 2014.
According to a report submitted by Türkiye to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), EU countries are deliberately complicating the visa process.
Turks have reported facing long queues for limited application slots, high application fees that are non-refundable and longer processing times due to higher scrutiny.
Most of the countries also do not have available appointment slots and those who do are either taking a long time to process applications or simply rejecting them, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Of the 26 Schengen countries, Finland was the most likely to reject applicants from Türkiye in 2021 at 39.45 percent, followed by Norway at 38.4 percent, the Netherlands at a rate of 26.7 percent and Sweden at 26.2 percent.
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The reasons for visa refusals, if even given, oftentimes seem unjustified to applicants.
One of the most common reasons for visa rejections is that the applicant supplied an insufficient explanation of the purpose and circumstances of their planned stay – in other words there’s “suspicions” over applicants overstaying their visa duration.
But these suspicions often seem based on subjective interpretation of the candidate's situation as documents to prove otherwise are often overlooked, applicants explain to TRT World.
This was the case of the 23-year-old Turkish student who wished to intern for two months at the Netherlands' International Institute of Social History as part of the European Union student exchange programme Erasmus.
Despite her visa application containing many official documents to support her case – such as her Erasumus grant, a working agreement from the institution and her Erasmus learning agreement – the Netherlands said the “purpose of entry to the country was not clearly stated”.
Her refusal letter also explained that the Netherlands has doubts that she will return to Türkiye when the internship ends – it particularly “emphasised illegal migration” concerns.
“I had also included my master's admission at SOAS University of London. Even this was proof that I would come back, but I don't think the visa officers are examining the files of Turkish citizens properly,” she tells TRT World.
“Although my purpose of going is Erasmus and I have put in a ton of documents about it, I came across (this) answer… as if my purpose of going is not clear, as if I was kidding,” she adds.
TRT World spoke to other Turks experiencing similar situations, about their frustration over missing job and education opportunities, being unable to visit friends and family abroad or jet off on vacation.
Despite having studied in Sweden for Erasmus and having visited the Schengen region regularly for two years, Hazal, who wished to withhold her surname, was rejected a visa when she applied this year in January.
The European country also found “not enough reasons” for her to return to Türkiye, despite having done so multiple times in the past.
“So it implies that I am so desperate and their country is made out of gold and silver so I need to stay there. It implies that I would break the law and regulations to stay there,” she says. "No, I don't want to live there. I am happy with my work, and my life here.”
Hazal says the rejection was “very disappointing” as she saw the “two faces” Schengen countries present to the world by preaching freedom of movement and individual rights yet turning Turks away.
“I was shocked to see that these were all lies at the end or these were only for their own people," she adds.
Aside from the emotional drainage, applying for a Schengen visa also is a burden on the applicants’ wallet.
The non-refundable standard cost of an application alone is around $80 for adults and $40 for children ages 6-12, according to the Schengen Visa site.
Alongside the fee, Schengen visa applications require many documents that can be financial burdens to obtain, such as proof of round-trip airline tickets and accommodation and travel insurance ––which can cost a person, especially students who are on a budget, $20-30 for up to eight days.
Many visa application centres, such as VFS Global, also may charge applicants service fees such as booking an appointment or premium services that include opting for a prime-time appointment slot and courier service for returning passports.
“I don't know how much (money) I lost at that point,” says Hazal. “They charge us a visa application fee and if we don't get the visa we basically lose this money. Thus we buy health insurance which is another way we throw money to garbage.”
“Then, I was expected to book my tickets and then when I cancelled them, I still lost a considerable amount of money. I saved some money from my previous work which I totally wasted for a visa application that was gonna reject me,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Turkish companies are also complaining that they are unable to obtain visas in order to attend events, meetings and commercial fairs – which impacts their business opportunities with the country’s largest trading partner, the EU.
‘Completely political’ grounds
Head of the EU delegation to Türkiye, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, told Reuters news agencythat decisions on Schengen applications are not taken “on political grounds but rather on objective grounds”.
He said more incomplete and fraudulent applications are seen from Türkiye. However, Tuncay Yalcin, a business owner and expert visa advisor for 28 years, tells TRT World there is no “paperwork problem”.
“I think it is completely political,” Yalcin says. “As an agency, we started to say that no matter what document we give, we now have a 50 percent chance (of getting the visa) to our customers and guests,” he explains.
“Even though all the documents are set and valid, applicants are getting rejected. That's why unquestioned and unwarranted rejections are given. The rejection cards given to us along with the documents say the purpose of travel is not believable no matter what document we provide.
“We have seen a business owner’s application being rejected even with completely valid documents… though 10 to 15 past Schengen visas were granted and used correctly,” he adds. “That’s why I believe they are rejecting the visas purely on a political basis.”
Applicants told TRT World that they also believe the motivation of rejections seems political.
“It can be a political stance against Türkiye as well because I know that while I was rejected, Sweden continued to accept people from India in large numbers. So it can be viewed as a country refusing to accept people from one country specifically,” says Hazal.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also took a stance on the issue in August, refuting claims by the United States and EU that the rejection rates were related to reasons such as coronavirus measures or personnel shortage.
"Unfortunately, the US and some EU and non-EU western countries give our citizens visa appointments one year, 6-7-8 months later. They also increased the rejection rate. This is planned and deliberate," Cavusoglu said in August.
Cavusoglu said the visa moves target Türkiye’s governing Justice and Development (AK) Party, aiming to place the government in a difficult position ahead of elections scheduled for June 2023.
He said Ankara will warn ambassadors of some Western countries about the issue, and “if the situation does not improve after that we will take counter, restrictive measures."
Which country is hardest to get Schengen visa? ›
According to Schengen Visa Statistic 2021, the 4 countries with the highest rejection rates were: Sweden, Norway, France, and Denmark. These 4 countries were more likely to reject a visa application than any other Schengen country.Why does Turkish Embassy reject visa? ›
You application has been carefully investigated by the Turkish Embassy / Consulate or missions abroad and has been refused due to one/some of the below mentioned reasons: Reliability of the purpose of visit. Weakness or suspicion of the financial situation. Credibility of the submitted documents.Which is the easiest country to get Schengen visa? ›
In general, Lithuania is the easiest country to obtain a Schengen Visa from, with officials granting 98.7% of applications. The nation also receives fewer applications than countries such as Germany or France, as they are extremely popular with tourists and business travellers.Which Schengen country gives visa easily 2022? ›
Lithuania. This country is the easiest one to get a Schengen visa. As per the reports, officials grant visas to almost 98.7% of applicants.How many times can I apply for Schengen visa after rejection? ›
You can only make one appeal against the refusal of a Schengen Visa.Can we apply for Schengen visa again after rejection? ›
You can appeal the refusal. The appeal must be submitted within 15 days of the receipt of visa refusal to the Consulate that decided to refuse the visa. The appeal must be an original with the original signature of the appellant, i.e. in person or by mail (not email).Can I appeal Turkey visa rejection? ›
Depending on the nature of the application, it may be possible to make an administrative appeal to the Consulate. If this is not possible, or indeed if such an appeal were to be rejected, a further appeal is possible, typically to a Superior Court in the capital city.Is Turkey visa difficult to get? ›
Though the process of acquiring a Turkey visa for Indians is easy, the eligibility criteria, rules, and other regulations might vary from one country to the other. The visa rules for Business and Tourist visit might differ from the Education and Work visit.What happens if Schengen visa gets rejected? ›
If your Schengen Visa is refused, you will receive a form that indicates the time you have to appeal the decision. If you do not appeal within this time frame the decision won't be reversed.Which is the most difficult visa to get? ›
It's one of the most difficult countries to get access to and acquire a visa. One will need to apply for the visa through a tourist agency, which provides state-approved tours. Those from South Korea or with an American passport, are not eligible for this country's visa.
Is it difficult to get Schengen tourist visa? ›
There's no need to worry too much, as the financial requirements are not too difficult to pass, but they do vary from country to country - with different levels of means of subsistence applying in each Schengen state. As such, some states' requirements will be easier to meet than others.How do I get a 5 year Schengen visa? ›
5-year MEV is granted to people that have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years within the previous three years. This visa permits you to enter 26 countries in Europe as many times as you wish, within five years, as soon as you do not violate the 90/180 days rule.How can I get Schengen visa from Turkey? ›
- Step 1: Make an appointment at the embassy, consulate, or visa application center associated with the Schengen country you are applying through. ...
- Step 2: Access and fill out your Schengen visa application. ...
- Step 3: Submit your Schengen visa application. ...
- Step 4: Await your decision.
Some countries share visa approvals and refusals with one another, whereas others do not. Generally, when countries share applicant information, it is critical that these countries have protection laws in place to prevent illegal access to personal data, which is extremely sensitive for the individual concerned.Which country has lowest visa rejection rate? ›
|Schengen State||Uniform visas applied||Refusal %|
Proof of civil status – birth certificate will suffice. Bank statement – this needs to show a minimum balance of €3000 over the last 6 months.Are Schengen visas being issued 2022? ›
The Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel freely within 26 European countries, 22 of them within the European Union (EU). The standard short-stay Schengen Visa allows holders to stay within the Schengen Area for up to three months during each visit.Is Schengen visa rejection common? ›
In 2021 the rejection rate of Schengen visa applications worldwide reached its peak, with 13.4 per cent out of the total number of travellers receiving a negative response in their application.What is the difference between visa refusal and rejection? ›
Visa refusal refers to the act of denying your entry into to a particular country by rejecting your visa application. Visa rejection may happen when you fail to prove your eligibility to visit a particular country.Is it possible to get visa after rejection? ›
Can I reapply for a visa? After being found ineligible for a visa, you may reapply in the future. If you reapply for a visa after being found ineligible, with the exception of 221(g) refusals, you must submit a new visa application and pay the visa application fee again.
Does visa refusal affect future visa application? ›
Does A Visa Refusal Or Cancellation Affect Future Visa Applications? As a general point, be aware that having a visa application refused, or a visa cancelled, means you will need to declare this in all future visa applications and associated forms that are lodged with the Department.Is visa rejection stamped on passport? ›
When you get your visa rejected, most countries place a stamp on your passport stating the same. It is therefore easily accessible to any consular officer who will issue your future permits.Can I apply for Turkish visa after rejection? ›
You can apply for a new visa 24 hours after receiving your rejection, and If all the information is correct you could receive your visa in the next three days after application. If you think your application was unfairly rejected, you should contact the Turkish Embassy or Consulate in your country.How much does it cost to appeal a visa refusal? ›
In order to file an appeal against an immigration decision, you will need to pay a filing fee at did measure appeals tribunal if indeed you have an appeal right to the tribunal. In most cases that filing fee is about $1,800.How long does it take to appeal a visa refusal? ›
If your case is about a refusal or cancellation of a visa under section 501 or about a revocation request under section 501CA, the Tribunal must make its decision within 84 days (or 12 weeks) after the day on which you were notified of the decision.Is Turkey a Schengen country? ›
Turkey is not part of the Schengen group and has nothing to do whatsoever with your visa.Do I need a visa for Turkey 2022? ›
Ordinary and service/official passport holders are required to have visa to enter Türkiye. Holders of such passports may get their 90-day multiple-entry visas from Turkish missions abroad or obtain their 30-day single-entry e-visas via the website www.evisa.gov.tr.What is the nickname of Turkey? ›
With such a large landmass, Turkey enjoys a variety of climates, earning the country the nickname 'the land of four seasons'.What is the most difficult visa to get? ›
Which is the hardest VISA to get? The hardest VISA to get is definitely the North Korean one. But also the Russian one is really difficult to get. For this reason, if you want to visit that country, you should definitely consider one of our Russian tours.Which Schengen visa is longest? ›
Short stay (type C) Schengen visas are valid for 90 days, but long stay (type D) visas range from 6 months to 5 years.
Is getting Schengen visa difficult? ›
There's no need to worry too much, as the financial requirements are not too difficult to pass, but they do vary from country to country - with different levels of means of subsistence applying in each Schengen state. As such, some states' requirements will be easier to meet than others.Which Schengen visa is fastest processing? ›
iVisa.com has three available Germany Schengen Visa: Processing Time: the standard one takes 10 business days, the rush one lasts about 6 business days, and the super rush, the fastest one, takes only 4 business days to process your application.Which is the easiest visa to get? ›
- Norway & Svalbard.
- New Zealand.
- South Korea.
- 17 hardest countries to get citizenship. #1. Qatar. #2. Vatican City. #3. Liechtenstein. #4. Bhutan. #5. Saudi Arabia. #6. Kuwait. #7. Switzerland. #8. China. #9. North Korea. #10. Japan. #11. United Arab Emirates. #12. San Marino. #13. Austria. #14. Monaco. #15. ...
- Conclusion: The hardest countries to get citizenship.
Unfortunately, both North Korea and Turkmenistan are the toughest countries to visit in the world for citizens of the USA. Why go? As a traveller, there will always be the desire to travel somewhere so distinctively different from our own home country. North Korea is just that.How do I get a 5 year Schengen visa? ›
5-year MEV is granted to people that have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years within the previous three years. This visa permits you to enter 26 countries in Europe as many times as you wish, within five years, as soon as you do not violate the 90/180 days rule.Are Schengen visas being issued 2022? ›
The Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel freely within 26 European countries, 22 of them within the European Union (EU). The standard short-stay Schengen Visa allows holders to stay within the Schengen Area for up to three months during each visit.Can I have 2 Schengen visas at the same time? ›
Can a person hold 2 valid short stay Schengen visas covering the same period? In theory, it is not possible for a person to hold two valid short stay visas covering the same period.