Hungary’s visa-free status to be revoked by the USA
Index.hu reports that a serious passport fraud has been unveiled that was taking place in Hungary. Direkt36 and the Washington Post have lead a joint investigation, through which it was revealed that over 700 foreigners acquired Hungarian passports illegally. With these Hungarian papers, they could easily enter the United States.
As a result of Hungary joining the American visa-free community in 2008, those in possession of a Hungarian passport are free to enter the United States of America after simple online registration. This privilege has been exploited by many since then: according to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at least 700 foreigners have applied for and got Hungarian passports fraudulently. 65 of them made it to the USA and, based on the latest data from October 2017, 30 of them are still on American soil. The authorities are seeking to deport them.
Severe measures are to be taken by the US Government if the Hungarians do not solve the problem as soon as possible.
Hungary’s visa-free status was changed to temporary last October, but it might even be revoked.
Representatives of the DHS were sent to Budapest last month to give the Hungarian government a warning.
Index.hu argues that the security breach is caused by a law passed in 2010, according to which those Hungarians living abroad who have Hungarian ancestors can apply for Hungarian citizenship and Hungarian passport. As we have reported previously, this privilege is misused mostly by Ukrainians and Russians, who apply for the Hungarian documents with fake papers, with the papers of others or by bribing Hungarian officials.
An ex-member of the DHS, Stewart Baker, told Washington Post that
those who apply for Hungarian documents in such ways represent a huge risk for the US government, as they have a solid reason to conceal their identities.
In most cases, they are involved in drug smuggling, organised crime or illegal migration. The biggest threat that the American government faces in their persons is that of terrorists and Russian spies.
The Hungarian Government is reported to be taking this matter seriously, and the co-operation between the two nations is tight. However, this is not the first time that the US Government had to urge the Hungarians to speed up the fraud-elimination process. Last year, the Hungarian Home Secretary revealed that 55 prosecutions are underway regarding citizenship fraudulence. The DHS found out last year that a man wanted by the Interpol for passport fraud wanted to get into the US with illegally acquired Hungarian papers, but this is just one example.