Turkish citizens applying for the popular business visa are two times as likely to be turned down than for a tourist visa
Turkish citizens are being refused Ankara Agreement permits almost twice as often as regular UK tourist and student visas.
Statistics obtained by Haber newspaper from the Home Office revealed that nearly a fifth – 18.5% – of submissions for the Turkish businessperson’s visa have been turned down since 2005, when the UK first began to accept applications.
The refusal rate is markedly higher than Turkish applications for regular visas, such as for tourism or to study at university, where more than 90% of applications are successful.
The Ankara Agreement – a result of Britain’s European Union membership – entitles Turkish nationals to apply for free to set up their own business in the UK.
But there are fears it will be scrapped altogether once Brexit is finalised in 2019.
Peaked in 2010
Data released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there have been 36,423 Ankara Agreement applications made by Turkish citizens based in the UK, Turkey and North Cyprus.
It showed the annual number of applications peaked at 5,135 in 2010 and have plateaued following a gradual fall.
However, the data included applications up until 30 September 2016 only and projections suggested there could be a slight overall increase once the remaining three months of last year are released.
Many Turkish applications for UK visas are refused because of incomplete or insufficient documentation, but Ahmet Engin, whose firm CSS provides legal services to Ankara Agreement applicants in north London and Turkey, said the noticeably higher Ankara refusal rate could not only be because of poor preparation.
Community ‘not aware’ of advantages
“While the total rate of annual rejections for all UK visa types (tourism, student, family reunion and the like) is hovering around the 10% mark, the Ankara Agreement figures you provided showed a refusal rate that is nearly double,” he told Haber newspaper.
“It isn’t really possible to say these refusals are just because of incomplete applications and not because of the [different] evaluation standards and approach used for these applications.”
Mr Engin said that although the number of overall applications appeared to be low and the refusal rate high, the main problem is that the Ankara Agreement is still not fully understood by people in Turkey.
“The Ankara Agreement is known in the community as a tool that friends or relatives use to come to the UK; it is not widely recognised in Turkey as a visa type that brings advantages.”
The agreement – formally known as the European Community Association Agreement – entitles Turkish nationals to bypass all domestic visa regulations and set up their own business in the UK.
Applications free of charge
The requirements are more generous than those offered to other non-EU citizens wanting work permits and applications are free of charge.
Thousands of Turkish passport holders have applied since Britain first started accepting applications in 2005, but there are fears in the community that Brexit will be used as an opportunity to withdraw the visa type.
Last month Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes told Haber Newspaper that the so-called Ankara Agreement had immensely benefitted the UK and called on the British government to retain its terms after Brexit.
The call was echoed by Turkey’s new consul-general in London, Çınar Ergin, who told a meeting in Westminster this week that dialogue was underway with the British government on formulating a replacement scheme.