Turkey : increasing difficulty for citizens to obtain a Schengen visa, the reasons why


Obtaining a Schengen visa for a Turk is significantly more difficult today than in 2015 (19% refusal rate in 2021 against 4% in 2015).

What are the reasons for the explosion of Schengen visa applications in Turkey and (also) their refusal ?

On the one hand, this is explained by the financial deterioration and the effects of the crisis:
Administrative fees are paid in euros. However, the Turkish currency, the pound, has been in free fall against the euro in recent years.

On the other hand, the political and economic deterioration of the country is at cause :
The aborted coup d’état of 2016 and the reprisals of the ruling power, followed by an increase in the inflation rate over one year which approached 80% in June 2022.

Above all, the increase in refusals reveals that Schengen countries fear that a growing proportion of these Turkish applicants have other intentions than a tourist stay, and actually want to settle in the European Union.
For a European state to grant a Schengen visa, there is one inescapable criterion : the state must be convinced that the applicant will return to their country before the visa expires. So, the financial, political and economic instability of the country leads to increased control measures to obtain a Schengen visa.

Despite the signing of the “migration pact” with Ankara in 2016, the European Union justifies the current situation by pointing out that Turkey does not meet all the criteria for visa-free travel. It is to be understood in this objection that the European Union questions the vagueness with which Turkey elaborates its anti-terrorist laws.

As a reminder, the Turkish Parliament had adopted on Wednesday 25 July 2018 a new “anti-terrorism” law that includes several measures of the state of emergency put in place after the failed putsch of July 2016. The controversy stems from the fact that this law considerably strengthens the powers of local authorities. Several unpopular measures characterise this law (such as the restriction of the right to march), which was essentially passed to allow the replacement of business leaders suspected of carrying out “terrorist activities” by state nominated officials. This means that, beyond the disgruntlement of Turkish citizens regarding the immediate objectives of this law, it still does not fulfill the requirements of internal security and even less the security needs at an European level. In fact, this law does not solve the porous borders with neighbouring states, particularly with Syria and the Islamic State, where the problem has never been and will never be considered as a “Kurdish problem”.

In the meantime, the Turkish state continues to send reports to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe complaining about “discrimination” in the procedures for obtaining visas. Cumbersome and costly procedures that nourish a feeling of humiliation and resentment towards Europe among the Turks (and specifically among the country’s representatives).


Emilie LE BON
Jurist in International Law & Economics
All reproduction prohibited


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