US Stops Visa-Free Entry For Hungarian Passport Holders, Citing Security Reasons. Here’s Why

by Shreya Rathod
US Stops Visa-Free Entry For Hungarian Passport Holders, Citing Security Reasons. Here’s Why

The United States has a Visa Waiver Programme for citizens of different countries. However, as per recent reports, the authorities have imposed new restrictions on Hungarian passport holders. The identities of roughly 1 million foreigners who were awarded Hungarian passports over a nine-year period were not fully vetted. Here is all you need to know about the restrictions on Hungarian passport holders.

US Imposed Restrictions On Hungarian Passport Holders

hungarian passport
Credits: Canva

In response to the identity concerns, the United States on Tuesday imposed new travel restrictions on citizens of Hungary, according to the U.S. Embassy and a government official. The limitations apply to the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme, which enables passport holders from 40 countries to travel or do business in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.

People with Hungarian passports may only enter the United States once during their one-year validity period of travel under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which has been cut from two years. The Visa Waiver Program’s 40 participating states have only these two requirements.

According to a senior U.S. government official, the shift came after years of fruitless U.S. efforts to cooperate with Hungary’s government to address the security issues. The official described diplomatic interactions in-depth while speaking under anonymity.

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The official claimed that hundreds of thousands of Hungarian passports were issued without strict procedures for identification verification, some of them to criminals who represent a threat to public safety and have no link to Hungary.

Providing A Streamlined Neutralisation Process

hungarian passport
Credits: Canva

Under the direction of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary’s government started providing a streamlined naturalisation process to anyone of Hungarian heritage in 2011, even if they did not live or intended to live in Hungary.

Through the streamlined process, hundreds of thousands of the at least 2 million ethnic Hungarians residing in neighbouring nations—primarily in Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine—acquired Hungarian citizenship.

Critics said that the programme gave Orban’s ruling Fidesz party an electoral advantage by allowing non-tax-paying ethnic Hungarians living abroad to vote in Hungarian elections.

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Because of the worries, the United States previously reclassified Hungary as a temporary participant in the Visa Waiver Programme.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva