BUSINESS
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get residence permit in Georgia
14 August, 2018
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get permit of residence in Georgia. Lawmakers plan to change the law and a draft of the new law has already been prepared.

According to the current law, a person can be granted the right of residence if they make an investment of not less than 300 GEL or they buy real estate that is worth a minimum of $35,000. The draft law increases the amount of an initial investment to $300 000.
The price for purchase of real estate would rise to $100,000. Moreover, if a foreigner invests in Georgia, they will not receive permanent rights of residence – it will expire after 5 years and will only continue after that if they continue to invest in Georgia At that point they could be granted permanent right of residence.
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Chinese tourists taking selfies in Tbilisi. Photo courtesy: fortuna.ge

Citizens of 95 countries can arrive and stay in Georgia for up to a year without a visa. A person is perceived as an immigrant if they stay in Georgia for 183 days in the last 12 months and have spent 183 days in other countries in previous 12 months.

Based on this definition, in 2016 there were 90 228 immigrants in Georgia. Between 2012 and 2016 34 024 real estate properties were registered to foreign citizens.

From those nationalities who buy real estate in Georgia, 53% of them are Russians and they occupy the first place. Then come citizens from the Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Israel. Between 2012 and 2016 70,508 foreigners were granted a right of residence. In 2017 their number reduced because of simplifying the right to stay in Georgia Visa-free. Citizens of Azerbaijan occupy the first place among them who received the right of residence. Then come Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine, India, China and Iran.
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Muslim tourists in Georgia in national dresses. Photo courtesy: Vano Shlamov

The majority of labour residence permits are mostly granted to the citizens of Turkey, India, China, Ukraine and Iran. Permanent residence rights are granted mostly to the citizens of Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine and Turkey. Educational residence permits are mostly granted to the citizens of India, Iraq, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Due to family reunification residence rights are mostly granted to the citizens of Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine and Turkey.

Between 2012 and 2016 only 9,408 applications were rejected. This equated to 12% of the total number of applications.
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Indian tourists in Sighnaghi. Photo courtesy: videoblocks.com

One of the initiators of the draft law and a lawmaker Ilia Tsulaia says that it was conceived following an incident when it was discovered that one flat was being used by 10 or 15 foreign families to try and get permanent residence rights- by cheating of course. A foreigner would by a flat and receive residence rights, then they would re-register it to the other family and they would receive the right of residence as well and for as long. So the idea of a draft law is to avoid such accidents and deter foreigners from cheating the State. He says that if one buys real estate and they re-register it to someone else, they will lose their right of residence automatically.

Soso Archvadze, another initiator of the draft law emphasizes that a state should protect the rights of its citizens and entrepreneurs and this should not be perceived as a xenophobic act, but as an action to protect interests the State’s market.

First photo courtesy: radiotavisupleba.ge

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