United States suspends youth visas for Turkey

The United States will not be taking work and travel applications for the summer of 2021 from Turkey, U.S. Consul General for Ankara Jayne A. Howell announced on Saturday.

Under the popular scheme, university students between the ages of 18 to 28 can apply to work in the United States throughout the summer. The program hasn’t been suspended for other countries yet.

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently unable to resume routine visa operations. We regret the hardship and the inconvenience that this may cause,” the consul general said in a video message. “We look forward to an end to this pandemic that has caused hardship for so many.”

Turkey’s infection rates have soared since March 1, when the country embarked on a gradual normalisation process. On Saturday, the country saw 52,676 new infections and 248 deaths due to the coronavirus, according to official figures. Since March 17 last year, 33,702 people have lost their lives in the 82-million strong country.

In terms of rates of infection, Turkey is currently the highest in Europe and second-highest in the world after India.

The Turkish Civil Aviation Directorate suspended flights from Britain, Brazil, South Africa and Denmark in late March over rising concerns for the variant viruses, and in April Russia and China suspended flights to Turkey over concerns for the high infection rate.