The United States authorities have announced that the country has decided to impose stricter travel rules for all Hungarian passport holders.
According to the US embassy, the decision to tighten the travel rules has been taken over concerns that some have obtained the Hungarian passport fraudulently.
As ABC News explains, it is suspected that the identities of around one million foreigners who have been granted the Hungarian passport over nine years have not been sufficiently verified.
For this reason, all Hungarians will now be subject to stricter travel restrictions when reaching the US.
In line with the newly imposed restrictions, Hungarian passport holders will have to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization every year instead of every two years and they will only be permitted to enter the territory of the US once during a single year.
Before such a restriction was imposed, Hungarian passport holders were entitled to multiple visits.
“It is an unfortunate decision in response to the inaction of the government of Hungary to respond to serious security concerns which we have been engaging on over many years and multiple administrations,” the US Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, said.
Additionally, a US government official said that they are working together with the Hungarian government to resolve the security concerns as soon as possible.
The official further said that hundreds of thousands of passports were issued by the Hungarian government without strict identity verification requirements. The same stressed that some were also issued to criminals who pose safety threats and have no connection to the country.
According to ABC News, Hungary started offering simplified naturalisation procedures for those who claimed to have Hungarian ancestry in 2011, despite them not living and not intending to live in the country.
Under the simplified rules, at least two million ethnic Hungarian living primarily in Romania, Ukraine, and Serbia obtained Hungarian citizenship, leading to safety concerns.
It has been explained that the verification of those who got the Hungarian passport under the simplified rules was stepped up in 2020. Nonetheless, due to the high number of people that have been granted passports without living in the country, the verification process has not been completed.
Consequently, the US has decided to tighten the rules until they consider that there are no threats any longer.
Differently from Hungarians, all citizens of the other countries part of the Visa Waiver Program will continue to be able to enter the US under facilitated rules. They can enter the country multiple times visa-free.