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Refusal rates for EU visas on the rise

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, May 2
Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, has said that “some EU member states complicate visa issuance procedures instead of the promised facilitation of the visa regime".

Baramidze made the statement while commenting on a recent Tbilisi Liberal Academy survey, in which it was revealed that Georgia has the highest EU visa refusal rate in the region.

“Visa rejection is very serious problem... At the same time, however, Georgia is leading with regards to visa permission. The number of rejected visa applications is really high, and President Saakashvili has talked about this issue. He directly told some of the EU member states structures that they have been opposing the agreement, which the EU Commissioner signed with Georgia on behalf of EU member states,” Baramidze said, adding that the government will go back to the EU Commissioner with their concerns.

According to the report, the Netherlands has the highest (and most increased) rate of refusal, at 26.6% in 2011, compared to 21.4% in 2010. Czech refusals rose to 19.9% from 18.9% in the same period, while Germany denied 12% of Georgian visas, up from 10.9%. Although the numbers have decreased, refusals from Estonia, Greece, and Lithuania remain at the top of the list.

Multiple-entry visas issued in the same time amount to only 22.5% approved applications.

The survey reveals that the Georgian government satisfies approximately 90% of re-admission requests. Germany (230 requests), Austria (160 requests) and the Netherlands (81 request) lead in terms of these requests, with 687 requests approved out of 758 as of March 1.

Davit Darchiashvili, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, attributes the increased number of refusals to an increase in applications and mobility from Georgia. “There are various reasons for high refusal rates – some technical problems... in consular departments and incomplete applications. It is also related to specific regulations and procedures of each member state,” Darchiashvili told The Messenger.

The visa facilitation and readmission agreement came into force in March 2011, and was supposed to simplify procedures for short-term visas into EU countries, along with a reduced fee of ˆ35, instead of the previous ˆ60 charge. In addition, some categories of applicants (including children under 12, pensioners, disabled people, students, close relatives and representatives of civil society organizations) are exempted from the visa fee.