As Türkiye’s hopes for a near agreement for visa-free travel with the European Union Member States remain dim, the country has now become the largest source of Schengen visa applications, with Turkish nationals filing over 700,000 applications in 2022.
Newly published data by Schengen Visa Statistics show that Türkiye has now overcome the Russian Federation as the country where the highest number of applications for Schengen visas are filed, with the latter being listed in the second position for the first time ever.
The total number of applications filed in 2022, on the other hand, has surpassed 7.5 million, which in spite of being 55 per cent lower than the 16,955,541 applications filed in 2019 is still quite higher than the number of applications filed in the past two years together, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Regarding the number of applications filed in Türkiye, data show that the highest number was filed at the German embassy, consulates and visa centres (223,699), followed by Greece with 164,829 applications and France with 115,114 applications.
Compared to 2019, in spite of being at the top of the table last year, the number of Turkish citizens applying for Schengen visas has also dropped by 14 per cent, from 906,862 applications to 778,409.
Commenting on the new statistics, the founder of SchengenVisaInfo, Besart Bajrami, says that changes cannot be attributed to “an increase in the number of applicants from Türkiye”, as the factors that have contributed to the country becoming the top source of applicants are quite different.
“One of the main reasons why Türkiye is now first is not an increase in the number of Turkish applicants, but rather, a dramatic drop in the number of Russian applicants which has been prompted by the restrictions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine,” Bajrami notes, further predicting that Russia will fall even lower in the table this year if the war goes on.
He also points out that with China keeping its doors closed in 2022, preventing its citizens from travelling abroad in fear of another outbreak of the Coronavirus, the way has been open for Türkiye to climb at the top.
However, now that China has opened its doors again, things might change for 2023, and this country might kick Türkiye to the second position next year.
“Though the interest of Chinese tourists to visit Europe is not the same as before the pandemic yet, in 2023, the number of Chinese applicants will for sure increase, and there’s a chance that the country will soon see itself listed in the first position,” Bajrami says.
For 2022, China is listed in the 22nd position with 92,780 applications filed. On the other hand, Russia is listed second with 687,239 applications, India is listed third with 671,928, followed by Morocco and Algeria with 423,201 and 392,053 applications, respectively.