ACCESS DENIED: What to do when your visa is denied

I think it's safe to say that America's relationship with Turkey, hasn't really been the best, but for the most part, it's been generally understood that both countries have a certain level of respect for one another, albeit small, as well as a mutually beneficial militaristic and economic agreement, if slightly one sided.* 

*That's essentially a long way of saying both are in NATO and the U.N. so they should at least try to look like they get along.

However, on October 8th, the U.S. imposed travel restrictions to Turkish citizens which limited their access to entry visas into the U.S. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quickly responded by doing the exact same thing to citizens of the U.S. who would seek entry into the country.

There's a really great article on Vox, available here, if you want to read more.

The Turkish suspension announcement included a reference to a freeze on electronic visas and visas bought at the border, which is the way most tourists and short-term visitors enter Turkey.
— Zeeshan Aleem of Vox

For many of us, Turkey probably hasn't been on our radar in terms of countries to visit, (though it definitely should be) and most of don't know what there is to do aside from hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia, (there's a lot of other things to do) but the recent restrictions placed on entry into the country raise quite a number of questions.

Below are a few questions that you definitely want to know in case it happens to you.

What do I do now? 

  • The first step is not to panic and to find out exactly why you were denied. If you are applying for a visa online or in person at a consulate in your home country or country of residence then a simple e-mail or politely asking what happened will typically yield the answers that you seek. Once you have more information as to why you were denied then you can take the necessary steps in order to address the situation.

  • If you do find out why you were denied, reapply and are denied again, then it might be best to reconsider your travel plans and choose another place to visit.

What happens when/if I am detained?

  • When a person is turned away at immigration they are, depending on their mental state, the reason for rejection, and actions, either placed in a comfortable waiting area, into a detention cell. They are placed on the next plane back to where they came from, or if that country won't have them, onto a direct flight to a place that will have them.

What do I do if my visa is denied entry but I've already purchased the ticket?

  • There are several airlines that have 24hr cancellation or rebooking policies at no fee. If you find out that you were denied a visa within 24hrs of purchasing your ticket then it would probably be in your best interest to either cancel the ticket and get a full refund, reschedule your flight to another time given your appeal and application are approved, or rebook to another location that either does not require visas or you are sure you're able to get a visa to.

What do I do if I'm denied a visa on-arrival/visa at the border?

This is where things get a bit tricky. 

You can be denied a visa at the border for a number of reasons: You seemingly pose a threat to national security, legal issues in your home country, political strife which now invalidates your visa, or you're being held under suspicion of a crime or criminal activity. If this happens the first step should be to get into contact with your nearest consulate and ask for help. 

If you are traveling by air

  • If you're arriving to a country by plane then the airline will typically check to make sure that you have all of the necessary travel documents before they even let you board the flight. If, upon arrival, it is discovered that you do not have the necessary paperwork or you are denied entry then in most cases the airline is required by national law to either bring you back to your country or origin, or another country that will have you.

If you are traveling by land/sea

  • If you are refused entry on a land border (traveling by bus, car, train, etc.), then I'm sorry to tell you but you're pretty much stuck. In some cases if the arrival checkpoint is further inland you'll be required to turn around immediately and come back when you have the proper documents.

Who is responsible for my return home? 

Again, this is one of those tricky situations as it depends both on local legislation (in the country you are denied entry) and the terms and conditions of the carrier bringing you there.

If traveling by land

  • You are typically liable for your own return. There might be some companies that are willing to let you use your return ticket if you purchased one, but for the most part it's on you to get back.

If traveling by air

  • If you are flying into a country then most airlines will let you use your return ticket that you purchased for your flight back. Most airlines will mention this in their terms and you will be held liable for any other costs.

Just as an example, here are Lufthansa's terms regarding denied entry.

Refusal of Entry 13.3. If you are denied entry into any country, you will be responsible to pay any fine or charge assessed against us by the Government concerned and for the cost of transporting you from that country. We may apply to the payment of such fare any funds paid to us for unused carriage, or any funds of the passenger in the possession of us. The fare collected for carriage to the point of refusal of entry or deportation will not be refunded by us.

What If I Can't Pay?

  • If you don't have money to pay for your flight then the airline is still responsible for taking you out of the country. You should, however, expect that the airline may try to recover their funds through different legal means if they can prove that it is your fault.* Often times the individuals who are denied entry into different countries are incapable of paying for another flight so the fees fall on either the airline or the state that is deporting them. 

*This is why it's important to get travel insurance when booking international trips.

If I have a one-way ticket and I am denied entry into a country, how do I get home? 

  • If you purchased a one-way ticket into a country but are denied entry or your visa is declined then the burden of sending you back to your country of origin falls on the airline or the country that you are in. Again, there may be some legal feels and ramifications that come into play but the airline that you entered in on may be responsible.

What if I don't want to or cannot be sent back my country of origin?

  • Most airline's first option will be to send you back to your country of origin. If, for whatever reason, you cannot return to your country of origin, or simply do not want to go back, then you may be able to communicate this with the airline and make arrangements to be sent to another country that will accept you.

What if I have a layover in a country and don't have a visa?

  • As long as you are not leaving the airport than you are fine. You will need a visa in order to leave the airport


If you're denied entry into a country because of visa issues then the first step is to not panic and know that you'll be fine eventually. The airline that you flew in on will fly you back out, usually at no immediate cost, however you should expect some kinds of fines. If you're arriving by land then things get a bit more tricky and you'll need to contact a consulate immediately. 

No matter what, be safe and always make sure your paperwork is in order before you venture out on a trip.

Patrick SpringerComment