Turkey-Syria Earthquakes

rubble from earthquake in turkey in syria
Update 09.06.2023

Essential information on visa for relatives, donation, psychological help and more

The horrific earthquakes on February 6th, 2023, destroyed large parts of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. Millions of people are affected in those regions, and many have lost their homes. So far, 60000 have been reported dead.

Many in Germany have been trying to support their affected relatives. Here you can learn about the ways your loved ones might be able to come to Germany and other relevant topics.

As soon as there are any developments, we will inform you here on our website. All information is also available in German, Turkish and Arabic.

Main source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

What do I need to know?

I want to bring my relatives from the earthquake-affected regions to Germany – what options do I have?

In order for your relatives to be able to come to Germany, they need a visa. There is a slightly simplified visa procedure for close relatives who want to come to Germany from the earthquake-affected regions. The regulations are different for Turkish and Syrian nationals:

Simplified visa procedure: Visitor visa for close relatives with Turkish nationality

The visa procedure for 1st and 2nd degree relatives with Turkish citizenship has been slightly simplified.

They still have to apply for a Schengen visa, or the so-called "visitor visa", which is valid for 90 days.

The only difference is that the visa procedure should go faster than usual in the light of the recent disaster. In addition, your relatives do not need an appointment to go to the Visa application centre. Unfortunately, however, it may still take a long time for them to procure all the required documents.

Please note: You still need to book an appointment at your Immigration Office in Germany to submit the required “Declaration of commitment” for your relative. Make an appointment in due time - as you know, it is hardly possible to obtain a quick appointment at Immigration Office.

These are the requirements for obtaining a visa:

  • The visa is for your 1st or 2nd degree relatives (parents, siblings, own children, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren)
  • The visa applicant must be an earthquake victim (they no longer have a home or are injured)
  • The visa applicant was residing in an earthquake region at the time of the earthquake
  • You should sign a "declaration of commitment" for your relatives and submit it to the Immigration Office

The relative in Turkey must submit the following documents to apply:

  • Application form
  • Valid (also provisional) Turkish passport
  • Health insurance
  • Biometric Photo
  • Copy of the identity card or passport and, if applicable, the residence permit of the person in Germany who is inviting them
  • Proof of residence with history (history must prove residence in the earthquake-affected area at the time of the disaster; "Tarihceli yerlesim yeri bilgileri raporu")
  • Proof of relationship (“Tam Tekmil Vukuatlı Nüfus Kayıt Örneği” with official remarks (“Düşünceler”) and barcode)
  • Brief, written description of the emergency
  • For minors: Signatures/notarised consent of both parents or proof of sole custody or being the primary caregiver

The visa procedure is free, except for the service fee at the application visa application centre (approx. €33). Your relatives can go to a visa application acceptance centre and apply for a visa without an appointment. This is only possible in the application centres of "iDATA", not the German representation in Turkey.

Important: Your relatives must have all the required documents with them when going to the application acceptance centre. They must also prove that they live in an earthquake-affected region and are particularly affected by the earthquake.

Please note: For general questions about the simplified visa procedure, you can contact the Federal Foreign Office hotline - 030-5000 3000 (in German and English). For specific questions, you must contact the German representation in Turkey.

Important: Anyone who came to Germany with a visa between February 6th and May 7th, 2023 because of the earthquake and still had a valid visa on May 7th, 2023 can stay in Germany until August 6th, 2023 without a valid visa. This applies to people with Turkish nationality who resided in the Turkish provinces of Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Elâzığ, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Şanlıurfa.

Easier visa procedure: permanent residence for close relatives with Syrian citizenship

The visa procedure has been (only slightly) simplified for Syrian nationals currently in Syria and Turkey who have been affected by the earthquake. This involves visas for permanent residence in Germany through family reunification and includes:

  • Family reunification for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection
  • spouse reunification
  • children’s reunification with parents
  • Parents reunification with their minor child

This is how the procedure had been somewhat simplified:

  • More appointments are available at the visa application centres in Istanbul and Beirut
  • People from earthquake regions are given preference when making appointments
  • In the case of subsequent immigration of spouses, no proof of basic knowledge of German is required when it’s not currently reasonable for the applicant to hand in such proof

Important: The embassy in Damascus is closed. Therefore, your relatives from Syria have to apply for their visa at another visa application centre. This is, i.a., possible in the German Embassy in Beirut and Amman or the German Consulate General in Istanbul.


Berlin: "Globalzustimmung" 

In addition, Berlin has the "Globalzustimmung" scheme, a faster visa procedure that helps bring your spouse and children under 18 to Germany. To benefit, you must prove that your spouse and children lived in an affected region at the time of the earthquake. For your family to use this procedure, you must have German citizenship, a Permanent residence permit ("Niederlassungserlaubnis"), or an EU permanent residence permit ("Daueraufenthalt EU"). 

Unfortunately, this regulation will only help in a limited number of cases.


Regular Visitor visa 

You can bring your relatives from the earthquake-affected areas to Germany for up to 90 days. For that, your relatives will need a Schengen visa, also known as "visitor visa". To obtain such a visa, your relatives must submit all required documents + a valid passport. Currently, the debates are ongoing on what visa applicants can do if they have lost their passports under the rubble. As of now, there is no anwer to this question. You can find all the essential information on visitor visas in our chapter "Visitor visa." We also provide information on the requirements and procedure for sending an "Invitation letter for a visitor visa" and submitting a "Declaration of commitment for a visitor visa."

Important: Before the earthquake, many visa applications made by Syrian nationals were rejected. So, when applying, your relatives must state that they live in an earthquake-affected region. There is no guarantee one can obtain a visa, but it is worth a try.


State admission program for Syrian families (" Landes-Aufnahmeprogramm für Syrische Familien")

Due to the war in Syria, the "State admission program for Syrian families" are still ongoing in some federal states until the end of 2023. This special family reunification programme helps Syrian individuals bring their first and second-degree family members from Syria and neighbouring countries to Germany. 

These are the most important requirements you must meet to benefit from the programme: 

  • You must live in one of these federal states (Different residence duration is required in each federal state): 
    • Berlin
    • Brandenburg
    • Hamburg 
    • Thuringia 
    • Schleswig-Holstein 
  • You or another individual submit a declaration of commitment to assume all costs for your family. 
  • The person who submits the declaration of commitment must prove they have sufficient income (the amount may differ depending on the federal state).

Additional requirements my apply in different federal states. 

If you meet all the above requirements, you can submit the application to your Immigration Office ("Ausländerbehörde"). If your application is approved, your family must first apply for a visa to come to Germany. After that, they can receive a residence permit. Such a residence permit can be extended later after expiration. 

Please note: For your family to come to Germany through the state admission programme can take a long time. 

Important: Seek help from a counselling centre for more detailed, case-specific information. You can find a counselling centre in your area on our 'Local Information' page. 

Do you want to know more about the requirements and need more details? We answer all your questions on our multilingual community platform 'Together in Germany'.

Where can my family members in earthquake-affected regions apply for a visa?

Your relatives in Turkey can apply for a visa at any visa application centre. Keep in mind that the visa office in Gaziantep is affected by the earthquake and closed. But if your relatives have an appointment there, they can attend it at another German representative abroad. That means they don't need a new appointment. The embassy in Damascus is also closed. Therefore, your relatives from Syria must apply for their visa at another visa centre, for instance, the German embassy in Beirut or Amman or the German Consulate General in Istanbul.

My family's visitor visa is about to expire. What now?

People with Turkish nationality who came to Germany with a visa between February 6th and May 7th, 2023 because of the earthquake and still had a valid visa on May 7th, 2023 can stay in Germany without a valid visa until August 6th, 2023. This applies to people who resided in the Turkish provinces of Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Elâzığ, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Şanlıurfa.

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