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Turkish businesspeople turning to citizenship by investment for visa-free travel

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Turkish businesspeople, who have been facing serious problems in their business trips to European countries and the US mainly due to prolonged waiting periods and the increasing rate of rejection of visa applications, are turning to citizenship by investment programs for visa-free travel, the Dünya news website reported on Tuesday.

The rate of rejection of Schengen visa applications lodged by Turkish citizens tripled between 2014 and 2020, increasing from 4 to 12.7 percent, the Hürriyet daily reported last month, citing a report recently submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker.

Schengen visa statistics also showed that 19.02 percent of Turkish national visa applications were rejected last year.

The increasing number of people who are unable to take their business trips due to visa-related problems and the fact that some exporters can’t even obtain a visa for the business fairs they had planned to attend are causing panic in the Turkish business world.

Businesspeople mainly complain about the difficulties in getting visa appointments for planned business trips, visa processes extending up to 45 days and encountering a rejection despite an invitation by the business connection or partner in the country of travel, with some also expressing discontent about the short duration of the visas they manage to obtain.

Burak Demirel, Turkey director of Henley & Partners, a firm specializing in international immigration, consular and citizenship law, told Dünya that the increasing problems related to business visa applications faced by Turks had once again revealed the importance of citizenship through investment programs.

Demirel said there were nine such programs, including those of Turkey, and five countries in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Dominica and St. Lucia.

“In the Caribbean, the processes [for obtaining citizenship] are six to eight months, and a contribution of $100,000 is required. We can think of it as visa liberalization. For example, a Chinese visa is very difficult [to obtain]. If you can become a citizen of the Caribbean [countries], you can enter China without a visa,” Demirel explained.

He added that Austria also offers citizenship through a process of two to three years for a business investment of €8 million or a contribution to the government development fund of €3 million and Montenegro within eight to 10 months in exchange for the purchase of real estate worth €250,000 or €450,000, in addition to a €200,000 investment in the country.

Turkish citizens have been experiencing difficulties obtaining Schengen, UK and US visas for a while due to the sudden accumulation of applications for overseas visits following the end of pandemic closures and the fact that the consulates are not accepting applications for visa appointments at the previous rate.

However, the fact that the visa processes are still long and the rejection rates have increased significantly compared to the past, despite the normalization of demand, raises questions, Dünya said in a previous report this month.

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