IMPACT – HIGH
What is the change? The United States and Turkey have suspended nonimmigrant visa issuance in each other’s countries.
What does the change mean? Visa services will not be available until further notice. The suspension follows the arrest last week of a U.S. Consulate worker in Turkey and could affect, among others, business travelers, tourists, students, diplomats and those planning travel for medical treatment.
Background: Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have been high for months and relations further eroded last week following the arrest of a U.S. Consulate worker in Turkey. The Turkish government accuses the worker of having ties to Fethullah Gülen, a cleric whom Turkey holds responsible for a failed coup attempt last year. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara said Sunday that recent events “have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of the U.S. mission and personnel.” The statement said the U.S. would suspend nonimmigrant visa services in order to reduce the number of people visiting the U.S. embassy and consulates while it assesses the matter. The Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC responded with a nearly identical statement within hours, saying it would suspend visa services, including for sticker visas, e-visas and border visas.
BAL Analysis: The U.S. visa suspension only applies to nonimmigrant visa applications in Turkey. At this point Turkish nationals will still be allowed to apply for visas outside of Turkey. Still, the suspension could have serious consequences for business and other travel and for U.S.-Turkey relations, especially if it is prolonged. The U.S. missions in Turkey issued over 110,000 visas in fiscal year 2016, so a long suspension could lead to longer delays at U.S. consular missions in countries adjacent to Turkey. Both the U.S. and Turkey issued statements saying they needed to reassess the other country’s commitment to security at their diplomatic posts, but neither country said how much time such assessments might take. BAL will continue to follow this issue and will alert clients to any changes. Those with urgent travel needs that are impacted by the visa suspension should contact BAL to discuss what options – if any – are available.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. and Global Practice groups. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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