Embassy of Ireland in Turkey announced March 25, that there are “significant delays” with visas for English language courses.
Long waiting times have forced some students to cancel their programs, while others have been unable to make alternative plans because they have paid in full ELT courses.
It is unclear how many students were affected, but agents are increasingly concerned about the delays – one agency claimed there were about 200 cancellations.
UPDATE FOR VISA APPLICANTS: There are significant delays in processing visa applications for two categories of visas: English language courses and visits. We are aware of the frustration it causes and apply processes to rectify the situation.
– Embassy of Ireland in Turkey (@IrlEmbAnkara) March 25, 2022
Engin Kosar, Managing Director Turkish agency Academixsaid some of the students he works with have been waiting six months for a visa decision.
“We are trying to encourage our students to stick to their plans, but some of our students have canceled their programs and asked to return their passports at the consulate,” Kosar said.
“Some of these students have changed their place of study, some have decided to stay in Turkey.”
Applicants must submit their passports when applying for a visa, meaning that some applicants have been without them for the past six months – Kosar believes this is another reason why students cancel.
Following the collapse of the Turkish lira in December 2021, the opportunity to work with students has become even more important for students, says David O’Grady, CEO Marketing English in Ireland.
Likewise, Covid has created “huge deferred demand,” O’Grady said, as many students who postponed their courses during the blockade are now seeking to travel to Ireland.
But the Irish embassy in Ankara, which oversees visas for Turkish students, is struggling to keep up with the number of applications it receives.
“Over the past few months, there has been a deterioration in the quality of applications”
Agents and representatives of language schools also reported that the embassy has recently begun to receive more and more substandard statements containing incorrect or incomplete information.
“The last few months have seen a deterioration in the quality of applications,” said O’Grady, who has worked with the Irish embassy to address the challenges facing the sector.
“Not about the applicants, but about how to fill out the application form … This has created big problems with a very small visa office in Ankara.”
It is unclear why this is the case, whether low-quality applications are related to specific agents or individual students – if applicants fill out visa applications, they do not need to declare whether they have enrolled in the course through an agent.
“Anyone else [country’s] the consulate would have refused these applications, but Ireland demanded that the students lack the documents, ”said Serap Aslantator, managing director. Alternative ECS, a Turkish agency. “It also increases the waiting period for all of us.”
Some of the students with whom Aslantator works have been waiting for a decision on their applications since December.
When applying for a visa, students must also indicate that they have immediate access to a minimum of 7,000 euros.
Some applicants are selling jewelry to confirm the availability of funds, which, according to O’Grady, at the visa office is “a little annoying,” which again slows down the processing of applications.
“We would like visas to return to normal processing times before we start advertising Ireland again”
The Irish Department of Immigration did not respond to requests for comment.
However, the MEI believes that the visa deadline will return to normal in about eight weeks.
“Agents are, of course, frustrated because they receive complaints from customers,” said O’Grady, who said MEI is working with both agents and the visa office to “stand as smooth as possible.”
Aslanta, meanwhile, says her agency has stopped promoting Ireland and has not filed new applications since March.
“We would like visas to return to normal processing times before we start advertising Ireland again.”