Poland’s ‘Cash for Visas’ Scandal Demands Government Clarity


Tomasz Grodzki, the Speaker of Poland’s upper house of parliament, has demanded the government provide clarity on its knowledge of the deepening scandal involving a ‘cash for visas’ scheme that is allegedly damaging the nation’s standing as a respectable democracy on the international stage.

Very limited information has been divulged by the government so far, however media reports indicate that migrants could have paid sums totaling up to $5,000 to hasten their work visa applications. To date, charges have been levelled against seven individuals, none of which are public officials.

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Last week saw the Deputy Foreign Minister, Piotr Wawrzyk, dismissed in the wake of these allegations. On the same day of Wawrzyk’s expulsion, a search was conducted on the foreign ministry by Poland’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA). The legal service’s director of the ministry was also discharged.

The ministry, currently subjected to an audit linked to the burgeoning scandal, has declared that it will terminate all contracts with outsourcing firms who have been handling visa applications since 2011.

According to opposition MPs, as many as 250,000 visas for individuals from Asian and African countries have been improperly issued by these outsourcing companies. However, the government refutes this figure, arguing only several hundred were issued.

In defiance, Donald Tusk, the opposition Civic Platform party’s leader, distributed this message on the social network X (formerly Twitter): “Anyone who wants to get from Africa to Poland goes to our embassy, ​​buys a stamped visa at a special stand, fills in their details and off they go! PiS [governing party] migration policy.”

Amidst such controversy, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused Tusk of attempting to cause difficulty for his ruling party and denies the existence of a widespread problem.

Grodzki, speaking in a televised address, warned, “This case is ruining our country’s reputation as a responsible member of the democratic community of the free world and jeopardizes our security; it must be explained in detail.” He spoke of a grim reality where corruption at the highest levels of government presents a direct threat to all citizens, describing it as the worst scandal the country has seen in the 21st century.

Countering this, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro suggested in an interview with state-run TVP Info that Grodzki was overstating the gravity of the issue.

This crisis, first unearthed by the CBA in July 2022, puts the spotlight on the PiS party’s anti-immigration stance just a month away from parliamentary elections. Despite currently leading in the polls, the outcome remains uncertain as to whether PiS will secure the outright majority required for governance.