US, Turkey to resume issuing non-immigrant visas

US says security situation in Turkey 'has improved sufficiently' to resume visa services 'on limited basis'.

    The US Mission to Turkey suspended non-immigrant visas last month [Reuters]
    The US Mission to Turkey suspended non-immigrant visas last month [Reuters]

    The United States embassy in Turkey has announced it will resume processing non-immigrant visas for Turkish nationals "on a limited basis", after visa services were suspended last month.

    "We believe the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the resumption of limited visa services in Turkey," the US Mission to Turkey said in a statement on its website on Monday.

    Non-immigrant visas - which include student, tourist, media and work visas - will be processed "on a limited basis", the mission said.

    "A reduced number" of interviews will be scheduled to process the applications.

    In response, the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, said it would also resume processing visa applications for US nationals "on a limited basis".

    The moves come as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is due to travel to the US to meet with US officials on Tuesday. He is expected to discuss the visa issue, as well as reiterate Turkey's call for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen. 

    Turkey blames Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric, for orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July 2016. Gulen has denied the accusation.

    Tit-for-tat suspensions

    The US embassy suspended the issuance of non-immigrant visas in Turkey in October.

    The move came after a US consulate staff member in Istanbul was arrested for allegedly having ties to Gulen.

    In response, Turkey suspended its own non-immigrant visas for US nationals last month.

    "Recent events have forced the Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the US to the security of the Turkish Mission facilities and personnel," the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, said at the time.

    On Monday, the US mission said the decision to resume issuing the visas cames after it "received initial high-level assurances" from the Turkish government that its local staff are not under investigation.

    It said it also received "initial assurances" from Ankara that its local staff would not be detained or arrested for performing their jobs.

    Ankara has also pledged to inform the US government should Turkey plan to detain or arrest any of the local staff in the future, the US mission said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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