In October a diplomatic spat unfolded between the US and Turkey. Specifically, a worker at the US consulate in Istanbul was arrested over suspicions of being linked to a cleric blamed for last year’s failed coup. The US didn’t appreciate this, and issued the following statement at the time:
Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission and personnel. In order to minimise the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey.
With the US suspending non-immigration visa services in Turkey while they “assess” the situation, Turkey responded in kind just hours later, with the following statement:
Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission and personnel. In order to minimise the number of the visitors to our diplomatic and consular missions in the US while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the US citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the US. This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-visas and border visas.
As a result, for the past couple of months it hasn’t been possible for US passport holders to get visas to enter Turkey. Turkish Airlines is a huge airline that flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, and while this change didn’t directly impact the ability of Americans to transit Istanbul, it meant they couldn’t leave the airport, which is an issue if you miss your connection, and then you’re basically stranded in the airport. It certainly made many people uneasy about connecting in Turkey.
It looks like we may finally see some changes on this front. The US has just announced that they’re fully resuming visa services in Turkey, effective immediately. Per an announcement from the US Department of State:
Since October, the government of Turkey has adhered to the high-level assurances it provided to the United States that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation, that local staff of our Embassy and consulates will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties – including communicating with Turkish officials also working in an official capacity – and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. Government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest any member of our local staff in the future.
Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey. We continue to have serious concerns about the existing allegations against arrested local employees of our Mission in Turkey. We are also concerned about the cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency. U.S. officials will continue to engage with their Turkish counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution to these cases.
While Turkey hasn’t yet resumed visa issuance for US citizens, I imagine they will shortly, given that their restriction was introduced on a reciprocal basis to begin with.