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Amendments to new visa rules proposed

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, October 24
The Government of Georgia has proposed amendments to the law on Foreigner’s Legal Status. According to the Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, the changes in the law have been introduced to help those foreigners who failed to arrange their documents from March to September. The recently proposed amendments to the law enable them to obtain new visas if they succeed in collecting all the necessary documents.

“They will be given an opportunity to obtain a residence permit without leaving Georgia if they file all the necessary documents. In addition, all foreign citizens will be able to obtain a residency permit in the Service Development Agency without even leaving Georgia,” she said.

When it came to tourists, Tsulukiani admitted that nothing will change in this regard, as they have always enjoyed a simple visa regime in Georgia.

“Foreigners will be able to freely come to Georgia if they are tourists (citizens of the 89 states that enjoy the visa-free regime with Georgia). We have adopted 5 different types of visas for foreigners,” Tsulikiani stated.

The new law on "Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons" came into effect on September 1, 2014. Visa-free travel with Georgia was abolished for 24 countries. However, citizens from 94 countries were eligible to enter Georgia without a visa for a 90 day period.

Under the old rules, citizens from 118 countries were able to enter Georgia without a visa and stay for a maximum of 360 days. But from September, citizens from 94 countries were now able to enter Georgia without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period.

Current government members stated that the issue had not been regulated under the previous government and Georgia might have been used as a transit route by various nations to Europe. Meanwhile, the opposition accuses the current government in creating unneeded barriers that will damage the country’s economic and tourism potential.

The United National Movement still believes that the new visa regulations will be a serious blow to the economic development of Georgia.