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Simplification of citizenship procedures planned

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, November 26
The Georgian Government plans to simplify the procedures for obtaining Georgian citizenship. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee Lasha Zhvania said the draft law has already been presented to Parliament for discussion.

The amendments envisage reducing the obligatory term of residence in Georgia for citizenship applicants from 10 to 5 years. There is also an amendment concerning those married to Georgian citizens, which states that the spouses of current citizens of Georgia will be eligible for Georgian citizenship after 2 years of living in Georgia instead of the current 3 years.

Under the current legislation a person needs to meet several requirements, along with an obligatory 10 years of living in Georgia, in order to become a Georgian citizen. Knowledge of the national language is required, together with knowledge of Georgian history and legislation to some degree. However under the amendments presented to Parliament a person applying for Georgian citizenship will be required to know the basics of law instead of knowledge of legislation.

The current law requires that the people seeking Georgian citizenship should not have been charged with a crime with a penalty of a term of imprisonment of more than 3 years. This does not alter. However, it also requires that the applicant either has a job in Georgia or possess property in the country before the application is considered. If the amendments are approved in Parliament, two more options will be added: a prospective citizen may either be involved in entrepreneurial activity or possess shares in a Georgian company.

The head of the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Relations stated that the body which receives citizenship applications will also change if the amendments are passed. Zhvania said that departments of the Justice Ministry will receive the applications. The exact date on which Parliament will start hearing the amendments to the Law on Citizenship has not yet been announced.