Turkish Pastor’s American Wife Denied Visa

Turkish pastor’s American wife, Joy Subaşıgüller, received notice from Turkey’s Ministry of Interior that her family visa was denied. No specific reason was given. Joy has lived in Turkey for nearly 10 years and has been married to her Turkish husband, Lütfü, for seven years.


Authorities Continue Discrimination of Protestant Christians

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on June 5, 2020, a Turkish pastor’s American wife, Joy Subaşıgüller, received notice from Turkey’s Ministry of Interior that her family visa was denied.

No specific reason was given. Joy has lived in Turkey for nearly 10 years and has been married to her Turkish husband, Lütfü, for seven years.

Their three children (ages 4, 2, and 4 months) are Turkish citizens. The family has opened a court case (#2020/988 – Ankara First Administrative Court) contesting the government’s decision.

Over the past few years, Turkey has forced many foreign Christians to leave the country through the systematic denial or cancellation of residence permits and the application of entry bans.

Last year, at least 35 foreign Protestants received such notices. In many cases, vague security reasons are cited, but not explained.

It is believed that Turkey has denied extending Joy’s family visa for no other reason than that the family is Christian, and that it is an attempt to force the whole family to leave the country.

“Turkey is my home. I love Turkey and the Turkish people very much. My family has very strong ties with Turkish friends here and especially with Lütfü’s family who would be devastated if we had to permanently relocate to another country,” Joy shared with ICC.

“Many foreign Protestant Christians (including many Americans) have been forced to leave Turkey and issued an entry ban on the grounds that their Christian activities are a ‘threat to national security and public order’ even though their activities are legal. In fact, some Protestants have been denied residency just because they attended meetings such as the annual Turkish Protestant Association family conference and a seminar concerning how to legally and effectively serve Christian children in the church,” she continued.

“Freedom of religion is a right granted in Turkey’s constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Turkey has signed,” Joy added. “We ask and pray that this right would be upheld in the Turkish courts and enforced in all areas of government.”

Istanbul’s Protestant Church Association also issued a statement regarding the country’s treatment of Christian leaders, including the Subaşıgüllers. The statement said, “It is with great sadness that we have to report that since 2019 it has been made more difficult for foreign clergy who serve the Protestant Church community in Turkey to be resident in our country, and that our requests for information concerning this matter have not received a satisfactory reply. While we hope that this is just a mistake and it will be rectified, we felt it necessary to issue a press statement to share with you how this situation has saddened us so deeply.”

In its annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended Turkey for a special watch list because of increasing religious freedom violations.

A recent International Religious Freedom Report released by the US State Department also cited Turkey for religious freedom violations that include the targeting of foreign Christians living within the country.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We join with the Subaşıgüllers in seeking prayers for the ongoing court case that appeals the decision made by Turkey’s Interior Ministry. That Turkey would threaten to separate a family for no other reason than that they are Christians is alarming. We ask that Turkey speedily review their appeal with full transparency and in accordance with the country’s own international commitments to protecting human rights.”

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (June 2020) Turkish Pastor’s American Wife Denied Visa

DHS Announces Imposition of Visa Sanctions on Burundi

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of State, announced the imposition of visa sanctions on Burundi due to lack of cooperation in accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.


Burundi Has Failed to Accept Return of Nationals Subject to Removal Orders

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of State, announced the imposition of visa sanctions on Burundi due to lack of cooperation in accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.

Pursuant to his authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf notified Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that the Government of Burundi has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.

As a result, Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. The suspension will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies the Secretary of State that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.

The decision to sanction a recalcitrant country is not taken lightly.

DHS makes significant efforts, in collaboration with the Department of State, to encourage countries to accept the prompt, lawful return of their citizens or nationals who are subject to removal from the United States. Those efforts include diplomatic communications at the highest levels of government.

The U.S. Government stands ready to renew efforts with the Government of Burundi to facilitate the removal of Burundian nationals subject to final orders of removal.

As a general matter, countries that refuse to issue travel documents frustrate the United States’ removal process as enacted by Congress in the INA, and such countries also fail to meet their international obligations to take back their nationals who have been ordered removed.

“This announcement is about ensuring the safety of the American people and upholding the rule of law. Given that Burundi has failed to cooperate with the United States on these serious matters of immigration and public safety, we have no choice but to impose sanctions. As the leadership changes for Burundi, we’re hopeful for a renewed commitment to cooperation between our nations for the benefit of each country’s citizens. We look forward to future discussions to resolve this ongoing issue,” said Secretary Chad F. Wolf.

Further, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, with narrow exceptions, aliens with final orders of removal, including aliens determined to pose a threat to the community or considered a flight risk, may not be detained beyond a presumptively reasonable period of six months if there is no “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

By delaying or refusing to issue travel documents to their citizens and nationals, the most common of which is a passport, countries that refuse to accept their citizens and nationals within that period have forced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release thousands of dangerous criminals into communities across the United States. Without a travel document issued by an alien’s home country to confirm identity and nationality, ICE cannot complete the removal process, with very limited exceptions.

Due to lack of travel document issuance, ICE continues to be compelled to release Burundian nationals into U.S. communities, some with serious criminal convictions, including violent offenses and drug convictions.

Specific sanctions effective June 12, 2020 are listed below:

As of June 12, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi has discontinued issuance of all nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) for Burundian citizens and nationals applying in Burundi except for A1, A2, C2, G1, G2, G3, G4, NATO1, NATO2, NATO3, NATO4, NATO5, and NATO6 visas, and other whose travel is covered by Section 11 of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement, subject to limited exceptions.

DHS.gov (June 2020) DHS Announces Imposition of Visa Sanctions on Burundi

DHS to Improve Integrity of Visa Program for Foreign Workers

On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will take necessary anti-fraud and abuse measures to protect the integrity of the H-2B visa program and also make available 35,000 supplemental H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2020.


On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will take necessary anti-fraud and abuse measures to protect the integrity of the H-2B visa program and also make available 35,000 supplemental H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The allocation also comes with new conditions to protect American workers, provide relief to seasonal employers who truly need it, and reduce fraud and abuse in the program.

New to the program this year is an allocation that will also complement DHS border security initiatives. The program will offer an opportunity for nationals of key Central American partner nations to work lawfully in the United States.

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Of the released H-2B visas, 10,000 are specifically designated for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, in support of these countries efforts to work with the U.S. to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region and encourage lawful migration to the United States.

While the Department is taking this action, long term reforms need to be made by Congress to this program going forward. In the interim, the Department is taking significant steps to promote integrity in the program, combat fraud and abuse, and ensure the supplemental allocation aligns with the national interest.

Reform measures include:

  • Requiring matching start dates on an H-2B petition and the employer’s start date of need;
  • collaborating with the Department of Labor on increased employer site visits; and,
  • generally limiting the supplemental visas to returning workers, who are known to follow immigration law in good faith.

This year’s supplemental allocation was determined after extensive consultation with stakeholders—including members of Congress and the Department of Labor—and is intended to strike a careful balance that benefit American businesses and American workers.

The supplemental visas will be made available in two batches to prevent a small handful of employers from using all the visas: 20,000 for start dates beginning April 1, and 15,000 for start dates beginning May 15. Adding a second batch will address specific congressional concerns about late-season filers.

DHS is committed to ensuring that our immigration system is implemented lawfully and that American workers are protected.

If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to https://www.uscis.gov/report-fraud/uscis-tip-form and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.

Individuals are also encouraged to report allegations of employer fraud and abuse to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division by contacting 1-866-487-9243 or visit www.dol.gov/whd  to locate the nearest office for assistance.

Further details regarding this year’s H-2B allocation will be contained in a Temporary Final Rule that DHS aims to complete and publish as soon as possible.

DHS.gov (March, 2020) DHS to Improve Integrity of Visa Program for Foreign Workers

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