The subject of visas and residence permits can be confusing, especially if you haven't done any international travel before. Basically, the visa allows you to enter Turkey for a certain time. A residence permit allows you to stay and live in Turkey.
You'll first you'll apply for and get your student visa, then enter Turkey. After you arrive, you'll apply for your residence permit, which is an ID card you must carry with you.
Coordinate With Your Student Affairs Representative
You should get an orientation package from the school you will be attending, with a list of documents you'll need. Be sure to coordinate with them and follow the instructions they provide.
Online Student Visa Application
You'll go to http://www.konsolosluk.gov.tr/ to apply online for an appointment at a Turkish embassy or consulate. During the application process, you'll also upload various documents to support your application (see below). Then, near the end of the online application process, you'll select a convenient date and time for your appointment. Here are the common documents required:
- Student certificate or acceptance letter from the school you will be attending
- Passport, with an expiration date at least 60 days beyond your duration of stay
- Passport-sized photo
- Letter from your parents or legal guardian giving you authorization to travel and study in Turkey
- Statement that you will have enough money to live on while studying in Turkey
Once you have these documents, you can start the online application. You'll make the application at http://www.konsolosluk.gov.tr/. The site is available in Turkish, English, French, and Arabic.
During the first part of the online application process, you'll select the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, or one of several Turkish consulates in various parts of the US. The one you select is the one where you will be booking an appointment to submit your actual application for your student visa.
You'll also provide your personal information, passport number, and other information as required. Then, you'll upload scanned copies of the documents above, including your photo. Finally, you'll select an appointment date at the Turkish embassy or consulate that you selected previously.
Once you've completed the online application, you can download it and print it. You'll need to take that with you to your appointment.
On your appointment day, you'll take the printed copy of your online application, and the hard copies of the above documents with you. You'll meet with a Turkish consular official, who will go over your documents and approve your student visa.
Receiving Your Student Visa
It will take a few weeks before your student visa is approved. The Turkish embassy or consulate will notify you when it is ready, or tell you when to come back and get it. You will need to leave your passport with them, because the student visa is a stamp which is affixed to one of the pages in your passport.
Coming to Turkey
When you arrive, show your passport, with the student visa, and the border control official will let you in. After you report to your school, you'll get a briefing on the student residence permit process, and also make a similar online application for that. You should apply for your student residence permit within 30 days after your arrival.
Study in Turkey: From the Turkish government, a good source of information for anyone who wants to come to Turkey for education.