The Washington Post: Foreign nationals used fraudulently obtained Hungarian passports to enter US
August 02. 2023. – 08:27 AM
Under the US visa waiver program, citizens of participating countries can travel to the US for tourism or business without a visa for up to 90 days. The only thing they need is a so-called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
However, from Tuesday, the validity of ESTA for Hungarian passport holders was reduced from two years to one year and ESTA will only be valid for one entry.
A 2018 document from the US Department of Homeland Security revealed that around 700 non-Hungarians have obtained passports and assumed false identities, at least 65 of whom entered the US through the visa waiver program.
A US official told the Washington Post that they did indeed have problems with passports issued between 2011 and 2020. They said that since 2020, the Hungarian government has tightened controls on who is issued a passport, but the US government has also requested that the identities of those who were issued passports in previous years be checked and verified.
The official said the Hungarian government was aware that "some of the individuals who have obtained passports are criminals who pose a threat to safety".
“It is an unfortunate decision in response to the inaction of the government of Hungary to respond to serious security concerns" David Pressman, the US ambassador to Hungary, said earlier. According to him, the US government has been dealing with this "security vulnerability" for several years, but the Hungarian government has chosen not to address the concerns raised and has not taken action to ensure that all aspects of the programme's requirements are met. The US has recently criticised Hungary for expanding its relations with Russia and withholding approval for Sweden's accession to NATO.
According to the Hungarian Ministry of Interior, Joe Biden's administration is "taking revenge" on Hungarians.
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