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Visa changes

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, August 6
The Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili states that in two years, Georgia will have a visa-free regime with Europe. The Prime Minister made the statement on August 4, during his meeting with students.

Gharibashvili claims that this development will not result in more migration from the country. On the other hand Georgia making its migration policy much stricter.

According to the Director of the Consular Department within the MFA, Giorgi Tabatadze, Georgia plans to change its visa regime. These new changes are envisaged by the new law on The Legal Status of Foreigners and Persons without Citizenship adopted by the Georgian Parliament, and will come into force from September 1, 2014.

From September 1, short-term multi-visas will be issued for people who want to enter the country multiple times within 90 days.

In addition, foreigners who intend to stay longer than 90 days to study or work in Georgia must obtain appropriate visas.

Based on the information, the foreigners need to carry out additional procedures to enter the country. Georgia is supposed to establish a new visa regime with certain countries. For example a partial visa regime with Armenia will be introduced. The current visa-free regime will remain in force for those citizens of Armenia who visit Georgia for a short period, such as tourists. The visa regime will apply to those who intend to stay longer for education or business purposes.

Tabatadze stated that the designs of the visa regulations are similar to the Schengen visa. He also said that EU nationals, plus people from Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, members of NATO and CIS countries, as well as people from Georgia’s neighboring countries, will be allowed to enter Georgia for a short visit without a need to obtain a visa.

According to Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Georgia's migration policy had not been changed in several years, that is why the new government has started working on this issue.

“In the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU, lots of issues have been included. These issues are due to be regulated by Georgia. Some of them need to be tightened, some to be changed and some others simplified,” Panjikidze stated.

Tabatadze said that the development of tourism and the growth of investment in Georgia remains a priority. The adoption of the law creates a legal basis and mechanisms necessary for the better management of the flow of foreigners into the country.