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Support for Illegal Stay Abroad Becomes Punishable by Georgian Law

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 19
The Georgian parliament has approved a bill with its all three readings which makes support for an illegal stay of Georgian citizens abroad a criminal offense, punishable by two to four years in prison.

The bill now needs the presidential signature to come into play, which is very likely to happen.

Creation of conditions or organizing the illegal stay of a Georgian citizen in a foreign country with the purpose of gaining financial or material benefit will be punishable by two to four years in prison.

The same scheme organized for a group of persons with the use of fake documents will be punishable by three to six years in prison.

The offense committed by a group will be punishable by four to seven years in prison.

The Georgian Dream ruling party MPs, who initiated the bill, believe that such laws will prevent the illegal stay of Georgians abroad and remove threats for the EU-Georgia visa waiver.

The opposition believes that only improved economy may suspend the process of outflow of Georgians. However, they state that the Georgian Dream leadership is unable to settle economic problems.

The government of Georgia announced changes in the law, which introduced tougher sanctions against Georgian citizens violating the visa-free agreement, back in February 2018.

The amendments included shifting the responsibility of readmission expenses onto Georgian citizens who violate the visa-free regulations, as well as complicating procedures for the changing of surnames.

The Georgian Dream leadership vowed more sanctions and tougher punishment for the violation.

The Georgia-EU visa waiver came into play on March 28, 2017.

Georgian citizens holding biometric passports can travel to the EUís Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days within any 180-day period for purposes other than working.

However, if the number of illegal Georgian migrants reach high numbers, Georgia may lose the opportunity.