TURKEY: Proposal to Waive Visa Requirements for EU States

May 13, 2016

On 4th May 2016, the European Commission proposed to waive the tourist and business visa requirement for Turkish nationals entering EU member states. This will also apply to associated Schengen states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), but will exclude Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Should this proposal be approved, it will allow Turkish nationals to travel visa free to the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180 day period, for business and tourist purposes.

However, this proposal includes a caveat that Turkey fulfils its obligation to complete the remainder of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, which was drawn up by the European Commission to assist Turkey in addressing and implementing outstanding benchmarks including immigration document security, migration management, public order and security, fundamental rights, and readmission of irregular migrants.

The Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was first launched between Turkey and the EU Commission on 16th December 2013, and consisted of 72 requirements that Turkey needed to meet in order for the Commission to issue a proposal to allow Turkish nationals to travel visa free.

Following two reports issued by the Commission in October 2014 and November 2015 detailing Turkey”s progress, the Turkish authorities committed to accelerating the fulfilment of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap at the EU-Turkey Summit, held on 18th March 2016.

In a statement released after the summit, it was reported that all 28 EU Heads of State or Government agreed to lift the visa requirement for Turkey by the end of June 2016, providing that all 72 benchmarks are completed.

Frans Timmerman, First Vice President of the European Commission, said “Turkey has made impressive progress, particularly in recent weeks, on meeting the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation roadmapThere is still work to be done as a matter of urgency but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks. This is why we are putting a proposal on the table which opens the way for the European Parliament and the Member States to decide to lift visa requirements, once the benchmarks have been met.

It is important to note that the proposal has not yet been approved and is expected to be addressed at the end of June 2016. At present, Turkish nationals wishing to travel to EU States or associated Schengen areas still need to acquire a Schengen visa.

We will provide further updates on this matter in due course, but should you require further information on Turkish immigration, please email us at [email protected].