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New visa rules might be eased

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, October 8
The government is offering foreigners a period of time to get their visa documents in order with the new regulations despite the fact the law came into effect last month.

Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani has stressed that the ministry would find a way to give foreigners an opportunity to settle their documents and to allow them to continue their activities within Georgia.

“We will provide them with additional time to arrange their documents and continue their activities in Georgia. There are special spots at the House of Justice where they will be received and consulted in a comfortable environment,” she said.

The minister also stated that the visa rules might be eased.

"Of course we cannot change those principles within the law on foreigners, which are vital to our country’s relations with the European Union, including the visa liberalisation directions, but we will find a solution for those foreigners who cross the border more times than it is allowed. We will alleviate the rules and the Ministry of Internal Affairs also agrees with this,” Tsulukiani noted.

The statement was also made by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

He also confirms that it is possible that the law on legal status of foreign citizens will be amended.

He states that some changes might be introduced so that Georgia to keep an appropriate balance between the EU requirements and the liberal requirements which we need for the development of tourism.

“So, first of all, we will try to launch electronic visa applications that do not require foreigners to visit our embassies and consulates." Kvirikashvili said.

He also noted that all new legislation and regulations were accompanied with certain difficulties.

"This is a normal process and the Government is actively working to ease the process,” he added.

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 was not regulated under the previous government and Georgia might have been used as a transit rout by various nations to Europe. Meanwhile, the opposition keeps accusing the current government in creating artificial barriers that will damage the country’s economic and tourism potential.