Poland Accused of "Cash for Visas" Scheme, European Commission Demands Answers

By Mia Taylor September 21, 2023

Amid allegations of illegal visa trading, European Commission demands clarification from Poland in a growing corruption scandal.

The European Commission has written to Poland seeking further details surrounding reports of a purported "cash-for-visas" scam in which Polish officials are embroiled. Accusations have been levied against Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its consulates, suggesting involvement in a large-scale illegal operation. Here, migrants hailing from Africa and Asia were allegedly provided Polish visas for a hefty price.

As Poland forms part of the Schengen region sans passport checks, these visas permit unrestricted entry to the 27 EU nations as well as Switzerland and Iceland. Such allegations could escalate existing European discord over grain provisions, as these events caused Poland to cease armament support to Ukraine, resulting in lawsuits by Kyiv against three EU members, Poland inclusive.

The European Commission's spokesperson, Anitta Hipper, stated, “These allegations are very concerning and give rise to questions regarding the compliance with EU law,”. Further stating that due to the severity of these allegations Commissioner Ylva Johansson has written to Poland's authorities seeking an explanation. Johansson submitted a “set of detailed questions,” to which Polish officials are expected to respond by October 3, Hipper added, “So, we count on the Polish authorities to provide the necessary information to the Commission and to investigate these allegations”.

On the other hand, the Polish Foreign Ministry denied accusations it “imported hundreds of thousands of migrants from Muslim countries and Africa.” Deeming them false, the ministry dismissed any notion that Poland leads the EU in providing entry permits to the Schengen zone. Subsequent to this, however, Polish prosecutors confirmed charges have been launched against seven individuals in relation to a visa-supplying scandal resulting in the dismissal of their deputy foreign minister.

Daniel Lerman, deputy director of the National Prosecutor’s Office Department of Organized Crime and Corruption, during a news presser explained, “It concerns paid protection in the acceleration of visa procedures in relation to several hundred visas”. Most of these visas were reportedly denied. Visa applications in question were submitted at Polish embassies located in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, Singapore, and the Philippines.

The Polish Foreign Ministry additionally disclosed that over the past 30 months they issued approximately 1,951,000 national and Schengen visas. Breaking down these figures, it is understood that Ukrainians received 990,000 visas, Belarussians 586,000, with the remaining 374,000 visas issued to other nationalities. The ministry reported a significant downtrend when it came to visas issued to Russian citizens. The ministry vehemently denied allegations that their consuls received ministry directives with regards to visa disbursement, emphasizing that these decisions were autonomously made.

“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 officers,” the ministry countered. They asserted that visa applications were made directly at the consular office, or at the visa application acceptance point.