Devastation after the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 10, 2023 | Photo: Reuters
Devastation after the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 10, 2023 | Photo: Reuters

Fast-track temporary visas for survivors of the Syrian-Turkish earthquakes are available only to Turkish nationals, despite widespread reports that Syrians were also eligible under new special procedures.

The German Foreign Office confirmed on Wednesday (February 22) that while Turkish citizens affected by the quakes can be granted the special visa for Germany, the visa conditions and procedures for Syrians remain unchanged.

"As stated on our Website the simplified visa application process is only available for Turkish citizens," a Foreign Office spokesperson told InfoMigrants by email.  

InfoMigrants and other media had initially reported that Syrians as well as Turkish citizens were eligible for the fast-track visa. A tweet from the German interior minister, Nancy Faeser, on Sunday stating: "We want to make it possible for Turkish or Syrian families in Germany to bring close relatives from the disaster region," added to the misconception. 

Procedure for Syrians unchanged

It is still possible for Syrians to apply for a three-month 'C-visa', but the special procedures such as faster processing, and the conditions related specifically to the consequences of the earthquakes, are not relevant in their case.

The conditions for eligible Turkish nationals, which are explained on the website of the German Foreign Office, include the requirement to provide proof that the applicant’s primary residence was in the earthquake zone, among other things.

The Foreign Office also told InfoMigrants that it had not yet been decided when the simplified and accelerated procedure for Turkish applicants would cease to apply, but that it would not continue indefinitely.

"[S]ince the facilitated visa process is intended to give those affected by the earthquakes the possibility to find temporary protection with their relatives in Germany in this crisis situation, we will not offer this accelerated process on a permanent basis," the spokesperson wrote.

Special procedures in Netherlands, Belgium

Meanwhile some other European countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium, are also prioritizing visa applications filed in Turkey, according to the global immigration law firm Fragomen. 

In a post on February 15, Fragomen said measures in Belgium and the Netherlands included the possibility for third-country nationals to request an extension of stay.

Dutch authorities are also being more lenient in assessing Syrian and Turkish nationals’ eligibility for return visas and have announced a three-month extension for foreign nationals who need to collect a long-stay visa in Turkey but have been unable to reach an embassy due to the earthquakes.


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