Turkey visa seekers pay double service fee

KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show around 60,000 Afghans have applied for Turkey visa through a travel company against more than double the visa price. REIRED Company for the first time opened its office to provide Turkey visa services in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province in 2018. It also opened its branch in Kabul after six months.

The price of one Turkey visa is $60 but Pajhwok findings show visa seekers paid from $110 to $140 to the company for obtaining the visa forum and processing their documents. Documents obtained by Pajhwok show around 250 people have applied for Turkey visa through REIRED, but the company says only up to 50 people apply for the service through their office.

Tens of thousands sought Turkey visa via REIRED last year: Pajhwok correspondent, watching the visa application process for several days in REIRED, found that over 50 people applied for Turkey visa in the VIP section of the company while around 70 others applied in the general section of the company in a day.

Each applicant is required to pay the specified amount of money for the service. The company distributes a token to each individual and family applicants with most of the applicants are families containing three to seven members. Basit Nazari, director of REIRED company, told Pajhwok that around 50 people apply for visa through their office and last year they processed applications of 5,500 people with 55 percent of the seekers received the visas.

After Pajhwok reporter shared figures of 256 people he observed in the general section and 146 applicants in the VIP section, Nazari said, “These people had applied since the beginning of 2021.” However, Nazari said some of those referring to their office were requesting information, others solving their problems and a limited number were applying for visa. He said their tokens in the general section started from No. 201 and in the VIP section from No. 101 every day. But the documents show all the tokens were distributed in a single day.

Documents also show only those who were applicants and were paying their fees were allowed to enter REIRED office and Pajhwok correspondent observed that 15 applicants in the general section and 10 applicants in the VIP section would take half an hour to complete visa application. Those who were requesting information from the office were not directed to the general or VIP sections.

Views of the Turkey visa applicants: Some people visiting REIRED for applying to Turkey visa said that hundreds of people applied for the service and submitted their documents on a daily basis, but the office provided the service to over 20 applicants only. Ahmad BasitNoori, a resident of Kabul, said when he was submitting his documents to the company, more than 20 other applicants were waiting in line behind him at the information section before they could submit their documents.
Rahimullah, another resident of Kabul who also applied for Turkey visa, said that up to 400 people applied for the service in a day but only a limited number of applicants were provided with the visa. He said he paid more than $2,000 for applying three times to obtain the visa for his five-member family, but he was refused the service despite submitting all important documents.

He added that the visas were issued to people who had connections with the Presidential Palace, National Security Council, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, ministers and parliament members. This company receives thousands of US dollars from applicants daily but it would not pay back the money even if the service is not provided to them, he said. Jamshid, who also referred to REIRED and applied for the Turkey visa, said, “I paid $250 for applying to Turkey visa through REIRED, but my application was cancelled.”

He said that his first application was cancelled due to low bank statement but for the second time he did not know the reason for cancellation. He also said that many people applied for the Turkey visa through the company, but only a few were successful in obtaining the visa. However, BasitNazari said applicants agree to their conditions including lack of money back guarantee before they apply for the visa. About the reason of not paying back the money to applicants who fail to obtain the visa, he said that the reason was the services provided by the personnel of the company.

Visa Applicants: Shirkat (Company) demands double fee: Mohammad Haidar, a resident of capital Kabul, said the fee of Turkey visa was $60 but the REIRED Company sought $50 in addition to visa fee in general hall while in VIP hall they charged $80. In addition, the company gets 500 afs in the name of services in the VIP hall. “In fact, this is unfair. They could demand $10 or maximum $20.”

Ahmad BasitNoori, who applied for Turkey visa along with his wife and three children, also shared similar compliant. He said visa applicants were charged a very high fee and there was no one to investigate why the company charged applicants a very high fee. He said: “Shaheer Company that performed visa application process for Indian embassy charges every applicant 1,000 afs. Their services are of high quality compared to REIRED company that performs visa processing services for Turkey visa applicants.”

Referring to 500 afs charged by REIRED Company for services in VIP hall, he said: “They even charge breast feeding infant 500 afs but does not provide even a juice.” REIRED Company charged 100 afs for two (55) photographs with a very low quality, it also charged 100afs from black and white photocopy of few papers, he said. This comes as photographers in capital Kabul charge 50afs for four (55) photographs while a single paper color photocopy is charged 10afs.

Noori demanded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the issue. But the REIRED Company head said in the past they charged a visa applicant $30 but from the past four months as a result of limited number of applicants the fee had been increased to $50. He, however, said that photocopy service is currently free of charge while every applicant is charged 50 afs for photographs.

Visa process is time-consuming: Visa applicants also complained that getting the visa of other countries took three to four weeks while Turkey visa took three months to be issued. Visa applicant Ahmad BasitNoori has been waiting for visa from the past two months. He told Pajhwok Afghan News the issuance of India, Tajikistan and Pakistan’s visas took one to two weeks while only Turkey visa consumed months.
Another visa applicant Mohammad Aman said he applied for visa through this company three months back but still he did not receive negative or positive answer. He said this made them tired and confused, adding that if a sick person wanted to go to Turkey for treatment then it would be difficult for the patient to wait for months.

The company head acknowledged the fact that Turkey visa was a time-consuming practice, adding that issuance of visa belonged to the Turkish Embassy. Visa applications not referred to agents are rejected: Pajhwok Afghan News learnt that some visa agents provided Turkey visa to applicants in few days against an amount applicants paid them.

One of the Turkey Visa applicant who wished not to be named, told Pajhwok Afghan News a visa agent told him that if he wanted to take visa for family members they could provide them visa in quick time but every member is to be charged $3,000 while without family, an individual is charged $4,000. The applicant said the majority of applicants for Turkey visa were rejected because a travel agent was not involved and in addition the REIRED Company submits visa applications to the embassy that involved visa agents.

He expressed worry over the company’s affiliation with mafia group and said: “When a visa application is rejected, travel agents inside or outside the company show themselves and offer the people Turkey visa against $3,000 to $4,000 in few days.” Mohammad Haidar, a visa applicant said, any application that escaped travel agents shall be rejected because agents charge a massive amount for quick visa provision.
Ahmad BasitNoori, a Kabul dweller, said that REIRED Company has a property dealer business in Turkey and they encourage Afghans to buy property in Turkey and commit granting them swift Turkey visa. The REIRED company head rejected having a property dealing office in Turkey and encouraging Afghans to buy property in Turkey.

Visa agent: Turkey visa against $3,000 with guarantee: A travel agent, wishing not to be named, said not only him but tens of travel agents were busy in getting Turkey visa for applicants. Referring to the guarantee for his work and getting money after the visa arrived, he said: “Against $3,000 we get Turkey visa in two weeks,” he said. The REIRED head also acknowledged the presence of some travel agents who provided people with Turkey visa against massive amount. He said this was something above their responsibility and they did not have legitimate right to stop this corruption. Turkish foreign ministry was reached for comment but they did not replay.