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US Visa Waiver Program Restrictions for Hungarians

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By Sanwar Ali:

In an unexpected turn of events, the United States has imposed significant limitations on Hungary's participation in its Visa Waiver Program (VWP). These changes stem from security concerns related to Hungarian passports issued between 2011 and 2020. This article delves into the details of this development, its implications, and the broader context.

Understanding the Visa Waiver Program

The US Visa Waiver Program enables citizens of participating nations to travel to the US for business or tourism for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa. The key to this convenience is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). However, recent changes have significantly impacted Hungarian passport holders.

Changes to Hungary's Participation in the VWP

Effective immediately, the validity of an ESTA for Hungarian passport holders has been reduced from two years to one. Furthermore, an ESTA will now only be valid for a single use. This decision marks a significant shift in policy, as it signals the first time such restrictions have been imposed on a VWP participant due to security concerns.

The Context: Hungarian Passports Issued 2011-2020

The changes are directly linked to issues with Hungarian passports issued between 2011 and 2020. During this period, the Hungarian government, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban's administration, granted citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living abroad. Although politically advantageous for Orban, this policy has raised international eyebrows.

Security Concerns and Long-Term Dialogue

The United States has expressed concern over the simplified naturalization process, specifically the lack of stringent identity verification mechanisms. The issues have been on the table for many years, with the U.S. engaging multiple Hungarian administrations to address this "security vulnerability."

Hungary's Response

In response to the American decision, Hungary's interior ministry defended its policies and accused the White House of "taking revenge on Hungarians with the new visa waiver limit." The ministry also made it clear that they would not compromise the security of Hungarians with dual citizenship by disclosing their data.

Current State of Hungary-US Relations

The decision comes amidst strained relations between Hungary and Western nations, including the United States. Hungary's delay in ratifying Sweden's bid to join NATO, and its perceived alignment with Kremlin-style narratives, have aggravated tensions. Furthermore, the U.S. had already imposed sanctions on a Hungary-based bank linked to Russia earlier this year.

The Impact on Hungarian Nationals

The consequences of these changes are far-reaching for Hungarian nationals. The modifications to the VWP mean that Hungarian passport holders will face more restrictions when planning travel to the United States. This can potentially affect business, tourism, and personal travel plans.

Looking Ahead: Will the Restrictions be Lifted?

At this point, it is unclear how long these restrictions will remain in place. The U.S. has signaled that it is open to revisiting the decision if the Hungarian government addresses the identified security concerns. However, given the current political climate, a swift resolution seems unlikely.

Advice for Hungarian Nationals

For Hungarian citizens planning to travel to the US, it's crucial to stay updated on these changes. If you are a Hungarian citizen and have received notice that you are no longer eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP, you should apply for a non-immigrant visa at least three months in advance of your desired travel. For more information, please visit


The recent changes to Hungary's participation in the Visa Waiver Program underscore the complexities of international relations and the far-reaching effects of domestic policies. As the situation continues to develop, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of robust identity verification processes and the role they play in global security. helps with US Work Visa: L1, H1B, E2, and O1 Visas

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