Hungarian Visas Restricted: US Security Alert

The United States has tightened visa-free access for Hungarians to its territory, amid security concerns stemming from the policies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Hungarians will now be limited to one entry into the United States, while the validity period of the trip has been reduced from two years to one.

Like citizens of 39 other Visa Waiver Program countries, Hungarians could previously travel to the United States for three months, as many times as they wished.

“Security loopholes” stemming from Orban’s massive naturalization policy have now changed that policy, according to the US Embassy in Budapest.

Washington has long threatened to impose travel restrictions on Hungary, fearing that the identities of nearly a million foreigners who obtained Hungarian passports over the past decade had not been properly verified.

Hungary – a country of 10 million people – has given citizenship to Hungarian speakers from neighboring countries since 2011, causing geopolitical tensions with Ukraine in particular.

Criminal networks were able to take advantage of this scheme to fraudulently obtain genuine Hungarian passports, according to the United States.

Citizenship was quickly granted “without adequate verification of the identity” of applicants, the US embassy wrote, blaming Orban for refusing to “fully address this vulnerability”.

US officials have reportedly been trying to fix this problem for years.

Budapest called the move “revenge of (US) President Joe Biden” because it refused to share with Washington its list of Hungarians overseas.

Since his return to power in 2010, Viktor Orban has regularly clashed with the United States.

The far-right nationalist leader was close to former President Donald Trump and accuses the current US government of trying to weaken him.

At least 2 million ethnic Hungarians live in neighboring countries, mainly Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.

Critics of the naturalization program said it also allowed non-taxpaying ethnic Hungarians residing abroad to vote in Hungarian elections, giving Orban’s ruling Fidesz party an electoral advantage.

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