U.S. Tightens Visa Waiver Program for Hungarian Nationals

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In a significant move, the U.S. government has announced stringent changes to their Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for Hungarian nationals, impacting their ability to travel to the United States hassle-free.

Effective in August 2023, the popular Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will undergo modifications, reducing its validity period from 2 years to one year and limiting the once multiple-entry privilege to single-entry only.

This decision comes amid growing worries over national security and immigration, raising questions for Hungarian travelers planning to visit the United States. Concerns over the inadequate verification of identities for foreigners granted Hungarian passports over 9 years seem to be at the base of this decision.

U.S. Tightens Visa Waiver Program for Hungarian Nationals

U.S. Government Tightens Visa Waiver Program for Hungarian Nationals, Travelers Face New Restrictions

Hungary’s simplified naturalization procedure, introduced in 2011, allowed individuals claiming Hungarian ancestry to obtain passports, even if they didn’t reside in Hungary. This has led to granting citizenship to about one million people “without adequate security measures in place to verify their identities,” according to U.S. officials.

Under the previous regulations, Hungarian passport holders enjoyed the ease of accessing the U.S. without the need for a visa, using the ESTA system. The two-year validity and multiple entry allowances provided them with the flexibility to make frequent trips and enjoy extended stays.

From August 1st, 2023, Hungarian travelers will still be able to benefit from the ESTA system. However, they will have to apply for a new authorization each time they plan to visit the U.S., and their stay will be limited to a single continuous visit.

For Hungarians frequently traveling to the U.S. for tourism, business, or family visits, the reduced ESTA validity and single-entry restrictions will undoubtedly create additional administrative burdens.

This could potentially lead to increased application processing times and costs, as travelers need to reapply for the ESTA before each trip. Additionally, the risk of facing travel disruptions due to delays in approval could result in last-minute changes to travel plans, causing inconvenience to those visitors.

Possible impact on tourism between the 2 countries

The U.S. government’s decision to tighten the VWP for Hungary may also impact tourism between the 2 countries. Hungarian tourists might now reconsider their travel plans or opt for alternative destinations with less restrictive entry requirements. This could result in a dip in tourism revenue for U.S. businesses.

In response to the U.S. government’s decision, Hungarian officials have expressed disappointment and concern over the implications of the new restrictions.

For Hungarian nationals planning to visit the U.S., it is essential to keep these new regulations in mind to avoid any complications during their travel. They should apply for their ESTA authorization well in advance and refrain from making non-refundable travel arrangements until their ESTA has been approved.

It is crucial to allow enough time for processing, especially during peak travel seasons when application volumes are high.

Travelers are also advised to review their travel itineraries and ensure they have all necessary documentation and paperwork in order. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has emphasized that travelers with expired or canceled ESTA authorizations will be denied boarding by airlines, so it is essential to verify the validity of the ESTA before embarking on the journey.

While the new restrictions present challenges for Hungarian nationals planning to visit the U.S., it is essential to remember that the ESTA program remains a vital pathway for visa-free travel to the U.S. By adhering to the updated regulations and carefully planning their trips, Hungarian travelers can still experience the diverse offerings and hospitality that the United States has to offer.

As the global situation evolves, it is possible that other countries may also experience changes in visa policies. Therefore, we encourage you to stay informed about the latest travel guidelines and requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey to the U.S.

The American government’s decision to tighten the ESTA program for Hungarians is likely to spark discussions on immigration policies and security measures, making it a subject of interest for the international community.

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