Scandal in Poland: Consulates Were Selling Temporary Work Visas to Immigrants – Investigation Could Hurt Conservative Government’s Chances in October Vote

The conservative, anti-immigration Polish government finds itself in a middle of a major crisis, ahead of an October election where the current administration tries to win an unprecedented third term.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said he is awaiting the results of an investigation into the allegations that Polish consulates had been selling temporary work visas to migrants.

Associated Press reported:

“Media reports allege Poland’s consular sections issued some 250,000 visas to migrants from Asia and Africa since 2021 in return for bribes.

Asked about the reports, Duda said he could “not disclose the details related to my knowledge about the suspicions of such practices. […] According to my knowledge, at least some of the information in the media is untrue.”

The deputy foreign minister in charge of consular matters, Piotr Wawrzyk, was unexpectedly fired last month as the first reports of the scandal appeared in the media.

Prosecutors and the state Anti-Corruption Office said Thursday that seven people — none of them state officials — had been detained on suspicion of corruption in the process of issuing a few hundred temporary work visas. They said the investigation began in July 2022 and was ongoing.”

The scandal could hurt the Law and Justice party’s chances in the parliamentary elections, as Poland has placed the opposition to migration at the center of its policies.

Poland’s populist government has repeatedly refused to admit migrants within an EU burden-sharing program, and built a wall along the border with Belarus, to block the inflow of Middle East and African migrants.

Poland’s government accused the opposition of ‘exaggerating the scale of the issue’ and says it is waiting for the results of an investigation to act.

Deutsche Welle reported:

“Authorities have said the scheme may have involved several hundred Polish work visas being issued in countries in the Middle East, as well as India, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

But the opposition said the actual number could be much higher. Donald Tusk, leader of the opposition Civic Platform party, said some 250,000 Polish work visas had been issued in Africa and Asia over the past 30 months in exchange for bribes, although he did not specify where his information came from.

He called it ‘probably the biggest scandal in Poland in the 21st century’.”

Tusk is a former prime minister and EU president. He addressed his questions to President Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

“Polish media, citing sources in the Foreign Ministry and PiS, reported that the scandal came to light after other EU states noticed an unusually high number of migrants entering with Polish visas.”

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