A new system designed to make the visa application process easier for foreign nationals hoping to travel to Turkey has been launched by the Turkish government.
Speaking to Today's Zaman at his office, Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru stated that the new "e-Visa" system would enable foreign nationals to obtain a Turkish visa online and thereby avoid having to wait in line-ups at Turkish embassies, consulates or at border crossings.
“We have been working on this project for months. With this project, we aim to increase the number of tourists visiting Turkey and also to ease the travel of businesspeople to Turkey. We want to save on time and staff. This project gives us a new vision,” said Koru.
The e-Visa replaces the “sticker visa” and “stamp-type” visas formerly issued at border crossings. Applicants obtain their visa electronically after entering required information and making a payment by credit card online.
“We believe that the people getting visa to enter Turkey will increase with this project. My prediction is that in the upcoming months, Turkey will give 3000 visas per day,” said Koru. Turkey currently approves an average of 400 visas per day.
Koru stated that the project involves the citizens of 94 countries that are required to take visa to enter Turkey.
“This is a project that is of great importance to the people of 94 countries. The process of obtaining visa does not take more than few minutes. Therefore, it is very convenient,” said Koru.
The main advantage of the e-Visa is that it can be obtained easily anywhere there is internet connection and enables the holder to submit application easily.
Koru also added that applicants who hold a US visa or Schengen visa would get the Turkish visa more easily than the other applicants.
“In the last few days, more than 1500 people obtained an e-Visa. We were not expecting this high number. Mostly American and British citizens are applying for visa. We are the first country to launch such a system [that is open to citizens of so many countries. There are a few countries that have this system, but it is limited [to fewer countries]” said Koru.
The launching of the e-visa is expected to provide the following benefits: prevent line-ups in front of the visa desks, at airports, reduce the workload of staff working at airports, save time for staff at Turkish consulates and embassies, provide easier visa facilitation for foreigners that visit Turkey for tourism and business purposes and increase the number of the visitors as well as tourism and foreign trade revenue.
The project was launched with the cooperation of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Turkish Interior Ministry and Turkish Airlines (THY).
The citizens of the 40 Group A countries, such as Canada, US, European Union countries, can travel with any airline company and are provided multiple visa entry.
The citizens of the 54 Group B countries, such as Nigeria, Pakistan and India, are required to travel with Turkish Airlines in order to obtain an e-Visa. These citizens are provided a single visa entry.
“We have a protocol with THY. Within the framework of that protocol, we require the citizens of some countries to travel with THY,” said Koru.
Koru also stated those who hold a US or a Schengen visa are not likely to immigrate to Turkey, but for citizens of certain other countries the situation is different. “For instance, we do not give an e-Visa to the citizens of African countries such as Nigeria and so on. But if a Nigerian citizen holds a US visa or a Schengen visa, it would be possible for that person to obtain an e-Visa,” said Koru.
Koru also maintained that the Turkish government has taken all the necessary precautions to prevent any misuse of the e-Visa system.
Turkish authorities can deny entrance to an e-Visa holder in certain cases. Holders of visas issued by Turkish embassies or consulates are subject to the same procedure too.
Koru said that the standard visa application system will continue at Turkish embassies and consulates until 2014. E-Visa is only valid for tourism or trade purposes.
The e-Visa system can be accessed at www.evisa.gov.tr.
E-Visa will set a good example for the world, says finance minister
Turkish Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek held a press conference at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to introduce the e-Visa system to the media.
Speaking at the conference, Şimşek stated that the e-Visa application system will set a good example as it would show the world that the public sector can work effectively and can provide high-quality services.
Şimşek also added that the Turkish Foreign Ministry was a step ahead of the era. “This system is very important for Turkey because we rank sixth in the tourism sector in worldwide. As we continue with out efforts to make the stay of our guests in Turkey comfortable, our country will rise to number one," said Şimşek.
Şimşek also added that the countries that apply visa requirements to Turkish citizens have decreased. “I believe that in a very short period of time many countries will launch the same system to attract tourists from Turkey and will make a lot of effort to do that,” said Şimşek.
Koru also gave a presentation about the e-Visa application. “This project aims to develop tourism and increase foreign trade. Foreigners will be able to obtain a visa 24/7 electronically,” said Koru.
Davutoğlu also called the countries that have visa requirements for Turkey to lift those visa regimes. “Now lift the visa regime that you apply to our citizens. It is the weakness of a state to make people wait in line at embassies or consulates to obtain a visa," said Davutoğlu.