December 3, 2023

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The European Union asks Poland for “clarifications” over visa fraud allegations

The European Union asks Poland for “clarifications” over visa fraud allegations

Frederic Florin/AFP/Getty Images

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, pictured on April 5, 2022, has urged Poland to provide clarity on reports it is alleged to be involved in an illegal scheme to obtain money for visas.


the European Commission He sent a message to Poland Demanding “clarifications” amid the reports That Polish officials were involved in an alleged money-for-visa scandal.

The Polish Foreign Ministry and Polish consulates have been accused of participating in a large-scale illegal scheme through which Polish visas were issued to immigrants from Africa and Asia in exchange for large sums of money.

Since Poland is a member of the passport-free Schengen Area, visas issued by the country give holders free access to the 27 EU member states, as well as Switzerland and Iceland.

These allegations could further aggravate the European situation Tensions Over grain supplies, which prompted Poland to say it would no longer send weapons to Ukraine, and Kiev filed lawsuits against three EU member states, including Poland.

Brussels is “closely following recent media reports on alleged cases of fraud and corruption,” according to European Commission spokeswoman Anita Heber.

“These allegations are extremely worrying and raise questions about compliance with EU law,” Heber said in a statement on Wednesday. “That is why Commissioner (Ylva) Johansson wrote a letter to the Polish authorities asking for clarifications.”

Heber said Johansson sent a memo asking “a set of detailed questions” and asked Polish authorities to respond by October 3.

“Therefore, we are counting on the Polish authorities to provide the necessary information to the committee and investigate these allegations,” Heber added.

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The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuted allegations that the ministry “imported hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Islamic and African countries.”

“This is not true,” the ministry said in a statement on September 15. The ministry added that claims that Poland is the leader in the EU issuing entry permits to the Schengen Area are also untrue.

But Polish prosecutors announced that they had brought charges against seven individuals in a visa issuance scandal that led to the dismissal of the Deputy Foreign Minister, according to the official Polish News Agency.

“The investigation began on March 7 based on information provided by the Central Anti-Corruption Office,” Daniel Lerman, deputy director of the Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption at the National Prosecutor’s Office, said at a press conference on September 14, AFP reported. .

“Paid Protection is concerned with expediting visa procedures for several hundred visas,” he said, adding that most of the visas were rejected.

PAP said these visa applications concern foreigners who applied for visas at Polish diplomatic missions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, Singapore and the Philippines.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that 1,951,000 national and Schengen visas had been issued in the past 30 months.

Of this number, Ukrainian citizens accounted for 990,000, Belarusian citizens 586,000, and other nationalities accounted for 374,000 of the visas issued. The ministry said that the number of visas distributed to Russian citizens “has decreased significantly in recent years.”

She repeatedly rejected “false” allegations that consuls received orders from the ministry regarding the issuance of visas, adding that decisions on those requests are made independently.

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The ministry said: “Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ administration do not have the right to assign consuls to issue a specific decision regarding the visa.”

“It is not true that Poland outsourced all technical support for processing visa applications to an external company and that visa brokerage companies acted as consular staff,” the ministry added.

The ministry said that visa applications are submitted by candidates directly at the consular office, or at the point of accepting visa applications.