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Foreign nationals to pay 100 GEL for immigration visa

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, November 5
Foreign nationals will have to pay 100 GEL for immigration visas issued by the Foreign Ministry.

The amendments planned to the corresponding law call for a 100 GEL payment for immigration visas.

The project has already been presented to the parliament according to which the Foreign Ministry of Georgia is allowed to issue visas for foreigners who legally reside in Georgia. A foreigner should apply to the ministry no later than 45 days before his given term of stay in Georgia expires.

The new law on "Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons" came into effect on September 1, 2014. Visa-free travel to Georgia was revoked for 24 countries.Under the old rules, citizens from 118 countries were able to enter Georgia without a visa and stay for a maximum of 360 days.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 allowed to enter Georgia without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period.

Several questions were raised regarding the logic of this policy. In addition, various complaints were voiced by foreign residents who were initially being forced to leave Georgia to return to their home countries in order to apply for their visas.

Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani noted that the new changes applied only to foreigners who did not manage to sort out their documents before the new law came into effect in September.

One advantage of the changes will see eligible foreigners able to obtain a visa without returning to their homeland. This option will only be available until March 1, 2015.

"They will have the opportunity to get the appropriate residency permit at the House of Justice if they have the necessary documents for this,” Tsulukiani said.

"In addition, an amendment has been approved, according to which all native Georgians living on the territory of Azerbaijan or other children of our country with compatriot status, will be able to apply for a special residency permit to the Public Service Development Agency, so that they don’t have to go back to their homeland,” she said.

"These benefits will provide our foreigners until May 1 to sort out their documents and in a way where the visa liberalization process with the European Union is not damaged,” Tsulukiani noted.

She said there would be only one small change to visa rules at Georgia’s borders, where the five-day transit visa will become a 10-day visa. This would combat the possibility of a transit vehicle being damaged on Georgian territory and the extra time will allow drivers to repair their cars without having to leave the country.