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US working to expand visa services in Türkiye amid delays: State Department

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NEW YORK, USA - A quite terminal is seen at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, United States on December 28, 2021. (Tayfun Coşkun - Anadolu Agency)
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Aug 26, 2022 - 08:11 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – The US is working to expand visa processing in Türkiye, the State Department said Thursday as Turks face extended wait times of months before they can receive a consular appointment.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday that the drawn-out process is “planned and deliberate,” and vowed to give “necessary warnings” to relevant diplomats.

“If there is no improvement, then we will take countermeasures,” Cavusoglu said during an interview with the Haber Global news outlet.

A State Department spokesman told Anadolu Agency that the US has “no desire for this to be an irritant in our bilateral relationship,” and that the US is working to alleviate delays in visa processing caused by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, including in Türkiye.

“Visa wait times are a challenge that we are addressing in Turkey equally as we are around the world, understanding that these COVID restrictions and some of the limitations on our workforce have led to extended wait lines for various visa classes, and it’s something we’re addressing with urgency,” the spokesperson said on condition of anonymity.

“The United States welcomes travelers from Turkey, and we are very happy to see the number of Turkish travelers to the U.S. is increasing every year. We are working hard to meet the increased demand for visas,” the spokesperson added.

Part of the efforts to resolve the bottleneck in Türkiye include the opening of a new US Embassy in Ankara and the spokesperson said the new building “will enable us to expand our visa processing capacity.”

In addition, the agency has doubled the number of consular staff hired worldwide in the current fiscal year compared to the prior year in a push to ease the bogged-down visa process.

“We are reducing appointment wait times in all visa classes as quickly as possible, worldwide. In fact, visa processing is rebounding faster than projected, after a near-complete shutdown and freezing of resources during the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

*Dildar Baykan Atalay contributed to this story

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