Turkish visa refusals: productive meetings with embassy staff and ETOs
We have taken first steps to address the issue of high visa refusal rates in Turkey reported by English UK members and educational tour operators.
Our membership director Huan Japes visited Istanbul on 16 – 18 May to gain insight into the issue, supported by members of the English UK Board of Trustees. There were discussions and information-sharing sessions with British consulate staff and representatives from Turkish agent associations and British Council Turkey.
The visit included a UK ELT briefing session that was attended by over 30 Turkish agents.
"Meeting our stakeholders in Turkey was a very positive first step to improve a complicated situation," said Huan Japes, English UK membership director.
"We are very grateful that the UKVI team in Istanbul were able to meet us to discuss these issues, with some initial positive outcomes on which we can build.
It was also enormously helpful to meet representatives from agent associations and British Council Turkey with current and past members of the English UK board, and then include another 30 individual ETOs for a briefing session.
We believe everyone who joined us now has a much better understanding of the issues involved and how some of these might be alleviated, and we have clear next steps to follow."
Our next steps include an offer of an agent briefing session from UKVI Istanbul and further discussions about visa refusals with two of the UK's visa and immigration teams.
We may also continue to survey members and Turkish ETOs for more data on refusal rates and processing times, and try to establish whether other educational providers are experiencing similar issues with Turkish applicants.
The key objectives of meetings were to gain insight into current challenges in the Turkish market to feedback to UKVI and to share details on the work English UK is doing to help support the return of Turkish students.
We also wanted positive engagement with agents to help rebuild travel confidence and create supportive messaging about studying English in the UK.
English UK began a similar initiative in Turkey in 2019 which was halted by the pandemic.
The agent briefing included an outline of English UK's work, student statistics and recovery rates, public affairs work and advice on reducing refusal rates.
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