Georgia’s New Visa Regime: A Complicated Affair
04 September, 2014
Georgia’s New Visa Regime: A Complicated Affair
Ever since new visa and migratory regulations were announced, Georgia’s foreigners and expats scrambled to apply for residence permits in time to meet the government’s September 1st deadline. Many who have lived and worked in Georgia for years now await the status of a residence permit full disclosure: this correspondent included.
Previously, Georgia had a liberal, almost nonexistent visa regime at least for visitors from countries on which Georgia had good terms. Foreigners were welcomed and even encouraged to come to Georgia to spend money, to work and to invest without any difficulty or time limit. For many, this was too good to be true. And as of September 1st, this is no longer the case.
For the last year, the Georgian government has been constructing its new visa and migration policy (modeled after the EU’s Schengen visa policy), which has just now come into effect. The new laws require foreign citizens to apply electronically for visas in advance at their country’s Georgian consulate, except in certain cases (such as humanitarian). The cost of the visa is 50 USD.
Last week on August 26, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially announced a list of 94 countries whose citizens fall into Georgia’s “visa-free regime” and the 24 countries whose citizens now do not. For the citizens of the 94 visa-free-regime countries, which include NATO an EU members, foreign citizens can stay in the country for no more than 90 out of every 180 days. New procedures and detention centers for expelling illegal immigrants are being put in place.
For foreigners who were inside Georgian territory before September 1st, the previous law will apply for one year. Yet if those foreigners leave the country during this year, then the new laws come into effect, creating an interesting situation for any foreigners based out of Georgia with travel plans.
In an interview with Georgian Journal, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s consular department, Giorgi Tabatadze, explained that the purpose of the new laws is to “harmonize” Georgia’s immigration policy with the European Union’s. Tabatadze concedes that the new regulations are not a prerequisite for a visa-free regime with the EU, nor are the new laws required by the EU, though he explains that “a harmonization” with the EU’s migration policy is necessary to establish a visa-free regime with the EU.
When asked about the complications brought on by the new laws for foreigners
currently in the country, Tabatadze pragmatically explains, “Of course there will be difficulties; in August we had no regulations and now in September we do. This is a transitional period.” Tabatadze emphasizes the work that has gone into the program for the past year, and he is confident that after “three or four months,” the process will be much easier, especially with the electronic system in place.
Others are more skeptical about the new laws and are concerned that they have created bureaucratic red tape, which could disincentivize foreign investment from companies seeking to send employees to Georgia. Yet Tabatadze explains that “in the last five years or so” Georgia, as a country, has transitioned from “a country of origin” into “a country of transit or a country of destination.” Thus Georgia has seen an influx of migrants, and he concludes, “if [those migrants] have good reasons to come, then no problem.”
When asked if the new laws have anything to do with a Georgia-only-for-Georgians public sentiment, Tabatadze replies, “Absolutely not. Georgia is not only for Georgians; Georgia is also for honest foreigners… or should I say ‘bona fide’ foreigners.” As many of those foreigners, who call Georgia “home,” begin to receive back the results of their resident permits in the coming weeks, they will soon find out if they too are “bona fide” in the new eyes of the Georgian government.
At present it is not exactly clear why the Georgian government has opted to actively cancel its visa-free regime with 13 different countries whose citizens did not face visa restrictions before. If staying, working and investing in Georgia has been made more complicated and less attractive for the citizens of the 94 "visa-free" countries, then residents from the countries in the list to the left will have even greater difficulty staying in Georgia for even 30 days. Regardless of the Georgian government's intentions, this sends an unfortunate message to the residents and governments of those 13 countries. The Georgian government should not be surprised if in the coming months 13 more countries suddenly decide to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia...

List of countries whose visa free regime has been cancelled on September 1, 2014

1. Trinidad and Tobago
2. Chile
3. Saint Kitts and Nevis Federation
4. Uruguay
5. Iraq
6. Bolivia
7. Dominican Republic
8. Guatemala
9. Paraguay
10. Surinam
11. Cuba
12. Peru
13. Saint Lucia

Author: Will Cathcart
Print
Other Stories
Russia-Georgia conflict and its peaceful resolution to be main part of Georgia-EU dialogue – PM
The Russia-Georgia conflict and ways of its peaceful resolution will be one of the significant parts of the Georgia-EU dialogue,
NATO Parliamentary Assembly condemns Russia’s attempts of intimidation of neighbors who try to deepen relations with NATO
NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly condemns Russia’s attempts to intimidate and destabilize the neighbors
The UN Secretary General fully supports Georgia
The meeting between Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
US Ambassador - You can count on one hand how many countries recognize the independence of South Ossetia and none of them are in the EU or near Europe
You can count on one hand how many countries recognize the independence of South Ossetia and none of them are in the EU or near Europe,
Zurab Pololikashvili elected as UNWTO Secretary General
Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili from Georgia has been elected as Secretary General
Ex-president Saakashvili faces criminal probe after illegal Ukraine entry
Mikheil Saakashvili faces criminal charges after entering Ukraine.
BBC: Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili 'forces entry' to Ukraine
Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s attempt to enter Ukraine
French President Macron and Georgian President Margvelashvili congratulate each other on the Anniversary of Restoration of Diplomatic Relations
France and Georgia celebrate 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between two countries.
The August War: Analysis of Georgian, 'Ossetian' Defense Forces & Combat Strategies

We all know who has the final say and who was the main architect in the 2008 August war,
The USA Urges Russia To Respect Georgia's Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity
The US Embassy in Georgia has released a special statement after Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit in Abkhazia, Russian occupied region of Georgia.
BBC: Georgians mourn Russian land grab in South Ossetia war
On august 8, Hundreds of Georgians formed a human chain near the Russian-occupied breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Putin visits Abkhazia and assures it of Russia's military support
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia on Tuesday and assured it of Moscow's military support,
Vladimir Putin pays a visit to Abkhazia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in occupied Abkhazia, Georgia's breakaway region.
9 years after Russia-Georgia war - Occupation continues
August 8, 2008, is one of the most tragic and sad dates in the modern history of Georgian.
Moisichuk Gloats over the Misfortunes of “Mikheil the Lackland”
Mikheil Lackland was one of the funnier nicknames that people came up with after the news broke that the Ex-President of Georgia had been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship.
US Vice President Mike Pence pays a visit to Georgia
The US Vice President has visited Georgia within the framework of the European tour.
Has Georgia Become an... "Elsewhere"? - Edward Lucas's Hard Truth on Georgia
It finally happened this month: the presidents of the United States and Russian Federation meet face to face for the first time.
Tbilisi mayor candidate Aleko Elisashvili to fix parking issues and revitalize the city in case of victory

Tbilisi Mayor and Local Self-Government Elections are approaching, so candidates are actively engaged in election campaign.
Russia's illegal borderization on Georgian territory continues! - What EUMM says
A border sign across the occupation line in the Tskhinvali region of Georgia has been installed recently,
BSEC Summit – B Is for Blame Games
Now, first things first: Despite the headlines that some of the Georgian media gleefully rolled forth last week, it wasn’t Vice PM Kumsishvili’s idea to get up and stand beside the Russian PM
Swiss Lessons for Georgia – Neutrality, Diversity and Resource Management
Today, Switzerland is considered and perceived as a very successful country politically, economically, and socially.
Putin Appoints new ‘Ambassador’ to Occupied Tskhinvali
On May 23 Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree about appointment Marat Kulakhmetov as the new “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of South Ossetia.”
Trump’s letter to Margvelashvili: “Georgian independence and democracy remain an aspiration to the world”
US President Donald Trump congratulates Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on the 25th anniversary of the Georgia-US diplomatic relations.
Nauru loses US financial support for recognizing Georgia’s breakaway regions’ independence
Nauru is no longer eligible for any US government financial support because it recognises two Georgian break-away regions as independent countries,
 Moscow Ex-Mayor’s Visit to Georgia Causes Controversy
Moscow’s former mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s visit in Georgia has caused an outcry among the Georgian population and politicians.
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
23.10.2017
24.10.2017
USD
1
USD
2.4864
2.4894
EUR
1
EUR
2.9344
2.9240
GBP
1
GBP
3.2753
3.2783
RUB
100
RUB
4.3213
4.3300
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
The Georgian President and his wife are on a state visit to Israel. Giorgi Magvelashvili and the First Lady, together
Koba Subeliani, a member of the National Movement party and the parliamentary minority
According to Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, the Georgian side will take part in the UN peacekeeping mission.
Asked about whether Georgia and Russia are moving towards a repeat of the war in 2008
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.4894
EUR
1
EUR
2.9240
GBP
1
GBP
3.2783
RUB
100
RUB
4.3300