U.S. says only “student, humanitarian and medical visa applications” available in Turkey


The United States is only able to issue visas in Turkey “on a limited basis right now” and is “prioritising medical, humanitarian and student visas”, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday.

The United States suspended all its non-immigrant visa services in Turkey on Oct. 8 after the arrests of a second of its local employees in the country. Turkey responded swiftly with reciprocal measures denying visas to U.S. citizens arriving from the United States.

The State Department said in a statement on Monday it had received "high-level" assurances from Turkey and that "there are no additional local employees under investigation." The statement also said the United States had received assurances from Turkey that “U.S. local staff will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties”.

But the Turkish Embassy in Washington denied the Turkish government had provided any assurances regarding U.S. personnel and said the U.S. statement did not reflect the truth. 

Asked about the denial, Nauert said:

“We have received limited assurances that if something should happen with our staff, if Turkey wants to detain our staff, that we will be given a heads-up. That’s among the things that we were assured. We were told that they wouldn’t arrest our people simply for doing their jobs.”

It seems differences remain on what was exactly was agreed in meetings between U.S. and Turkish officials in Ankara last week. Nauert continued:

“In terms of Turkeys’ questioning of our previous statements, I can tell you that the safety and security of our folks is a top issue. The people who were detained as a natural course of their business had to engage with law enforcement, with the Turkish government. That is something that is an appropriate part of their job. It is a part of their job description. And for Turkey to put people in jail and claim that they are involved in activities when they’re simply doing their jobs we think is incorrect.”

The U.S. spokeswoman said the Turkish government had “taken some steps in the right direction” and the United States had some “fairly positive conversations” with Turkish government officials.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim arrived in Washington on Tuesday. His meeting with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was put back to from Wednesday to Thursday due to the funerals of those killed in the Texas shooting.