Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex B


  1.  The main visa issuing post in Turkey is located at the Consulate General in Istanbul processing approx. 64,000 applications per year. However, following the economic crisis in February 2001 in Turkey, applications overall have fallen by approximately 17 per cent this year to date. The Embassy in Ankara only process applications from Turkish Diplomatic, Special and Service passports holders—roughly 5,000 applications per year.

  2.  Straightforward applications are processed within twenty four hours of receipt with 81 per cent issued on the same day. Fewer than seven per cent of applications are refused. The visa operation is conducted in accordance with the Joint Entry Clearance Unit's (JECU) Best Practice Guidelines. However, for applications which require a second interview, waiting time is currently running at over eighty days. JECU and Istanbul are looking closely at the reasons for this and will make recommendations to improve the throughput of applications. A dedicated telephone line from 14.00-16.00 hours each working day has been allocated for callers enquiring about an earlier/cancelled visa interview or appointment.

  3.  Since the introduction of Family Visit Appeals in October 2000, approximately 4,000 such applications have been processed in Istanbul, with a 12 per cent refusal rate. Of that total refused, only 39 oral hearing appeals and 19 paper appeals have been received at post. The cost of an oral hearing stands at £120.

  4.  Postal applications are accepted in Istanbul only and are designed to spare the applicant unnecessary travel. Messenger applications can be sent to both Ankara and Istanbul, or applicants can appear in person. The level of permanent visa staffing (both UK based and locally engaged) is adjusted where possible to take account of the level of applications. Currently nine UK based staff and 33 locally engaged staff, are employed over both visa operations in Ankara and Istanbul. The section takes on temporary staff to assist in busy summer months.

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