US-Turkey Tensions Escalate with Suspension of All Non-immigrant Visa Services

On October 8th, 2017, the United States Embassy of Turkey officially, and indefinitely suspended all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey, heightening the tension in the two nations’ diplomacy. The suspension will be in effect immediately and will prevent Turkish immigrants from obtaining a visa unless the immigrant plans to settle in the US permanently. In other words, nonimmigrant visas will not be issued to any Turkish traveling into the US for medical treatment, temporary stay, tourism, or business.

According to the US mission in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, a series of “recent events” was the driving cause of the suspension, and that the US would like to reinvestigate whether or not Turkey was fully committed to ensuring the security and safety of the US mission personnel and facilities in Ankara. Until the investigation is completed, the US wishes to minimize the number of Turkish visitors to the US.

Later that Sunday, Turkey responded by stating that it would also temporarily stop issuing visas to non-immigrants from the United States.

The tension between Turkey and the US is not unprecedented: just a few days before the suspension, Ankara arrested a US consulate employee in Istanbul for an assumed link to a US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen for a coup against Erdogan that has failed last year. The employee has been charged with an attempt to threaten the governmental order in Turkey and espionage, both of which were denied involvement by the staffer.

To this arrest, the US embassy responded by claiming that it was deeply disturbed by the allegation and rejected the accusation of the employee. On the other hand, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin pointed out that there must have been sufficient evidence to arrest the staffer, and wholeheartedly supported the allegation.

Until now, the long-term implications of this suspension aren’t clear because such a suspension only happens on very rare occasions. Previously, US missions in Moscow also resorted to the suspension of non-immigrant visas which only lasted for a bit more than a week.



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