The rejection rate for Schengen visa applications by Turkish citizens has increased from 9.7% in 2019 to 16.1% in 2023. Firuz Bağlıkaya, President of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), stated that securing a visa appointment is itself an achievement due to quota limitations, noting, "People's freedom to travel is being taken away."

Impact on summer travel plans

As summer approaches, citizens planning to spend their holidays abroad are facing obstacles due to visa issues. Schengen zone countries have closed visa appointments until the end of May due to limited quotas. According to NTV, Italy has closed appointments until the end of June, and first-time US visa applicants are being scheduled for September-October 2025.

MP Hotels in Türkiye files for concordat amid FTI’s bankruptcy MP Hotels in Türkiye files for concordat amid FTI’s bankruptcy

Persistent problems

Bağlıkaya highlighted that the visa issue, which intensified post-pandemic, continues to worsen each year. Visa intermediary agencies are not accepting applications from travel agencies for overseas tour sales, causing a halt in business for those arranging tours abroad.

Limited quota availability

Since mid-2023, there have been practical issues with visa appointments. Bağlıkaya emphasized, "Appointments are currently closed. Very limited quotas open rarely at midnight. Whoever manages to register online gets the appointment. The quota issue is at its peak. Intermediary agencies have allocated appointments to their own established agencies. The visa fee is around 80 euros, with an additional 40 euros for the appointment. These fees are non-refundable."

High application numbers

In 2023, 1,055,000 Turkish citizens applied for visas. Bağlıkaya noted that the rejection rate for applications was 9.7% in 2019, rising to 16.1% in 2023 according to the latest data from the European Commission.

Application challenges

Bağlıkaya pointed out that the number of citizens unable to apply due to quota shortages is significantly higher than those who can. "Especially from 2024 onwards, even being able to apply for a visa is an achievement. We cannot accurately determine what percentage of those needing visas can secure an appointment."

Comparison with other countries

Evaluating the 2023 Schengen visa statistics released by the European Commission, Bağlıkaya stated, "When comparing our application and rejection rates with other countries, a dire situation emerges. For instance, in 2023, 1,117,000 applications were made from China with a 5.5% rejection rate. While our application numbers are almost the same, their rejection rate is one-third of ours."

Threat to travel freedom

Bağlıkaya continued, "The fact that Turkish citizens are even prevented from applying for visas is troubling. Not granting visas may be a country's policy, but not being able to apply creates significant problems. The most affected are our travel agencies. I hope this issue is resolved soon. The solution requires intervention beyond the capabilities of travel agencies and needs attention from the President and Foreign Minister. Initially linked to security and quota issues, this has now become a human rights issue. People's freedom to travel is being taken away."

Editor: Haber Merkezi