Ali’s journey: Getting married in Turkey and the long wait. Will he get a visa to Finland?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

On 10.10.2018, Ali,* 22, and his Finnish wife, 19, spent one of the most memorable days of their lives when they got married in Ankara. Present at the ceremony were two witnesses, the wife’s sister and a friend of Ali’s. Marriages in Turkey take place at the Turkish Marriage Offices.  

“Everything went smoothly and rapidly,” said Ali. “The justice asked who we were [prove our identity] and if we accepted each other as wife and husband.”

Ali came to Finland as an asylum seeker in 2015 and fell in love with a Finnish woman, whom he had to leave behind because he had five rejections for asylum. Ali was detained and sent on two occasions to the Joutseno immigration removal center.

See links below for more stories about Ali’s life in Finland, his detention, and return to Iraq.

The process of getting married to a Finn if you are an Iraqi can take months and is costly.

“I had to spend 1,000 dollars in Iraq to an agent who helped me get all the connections in Ankara,” he said. “Then, after we got married, we went to a private company that does the interview for the Finnish embassy to apply for the visa. That cost 600 dollars.”

After having done all the paperwork and interviews, Ali said that he expects to wait 6-9 months for the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) to decide whether he will give him a visa or not.

“The Finnish embassy may interview me as in some cases but sometimes they don’t,” he said.  “I’m hopeful that things will go well. It was sad to part but my wife gave me a lot of encouragement.”


The newly weds in Ankara, Turkey.

Ali, who will fly back to Baghdad Monday evening after a short stay in Turkey, calculated that it would cost him about 500 dollars a month to live in Turkey while he waits for a response from Migri and the Finnish embassy.

A six month wait would cost 3,000 dollars and for nine months it would be 4,500 dollars.

* Ali is a fictitious name. 

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