Visa law: Foreigners could obtain immigrant visas in Georgia

Giorgi Kvirikashvili considers amending the new law on legal status of foreign citizens., 04 Nov 2014 - 13:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Foreign citizens living in Georgia without an appropriate visa could soon be able to obtain an immigrant visa from within the country.

Lawmakers are discussing the possibility of allowing the Georgian Foreign Ministry to issue immigrant visas to foreigners living in Georgia at a cost of 100 GEL. This would remove the necessity for foreigners to travel to their homeland and apply for a Georgian visa there, which would cost a lot of money and time, said officials.

This and other changes to the recently-implemented law on Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons, were initiated at Parliament’s Bureau meeting yesterday.

The proposal, submitted to Parliament for discussion, would allow foreigners living lawfully in Georgia to obtain immigrant visas on the territory of Georgia. With this in mind, foreigners should address the Foreign Ministry no later than 45 days before the expiry of their lawful stay.

According to the Georgian Government, after new visa regulations came into play on September 1, about 2,000 people remained in Georgia without legal grounds. As these people did not satisfy the conditions to gain a residency permit, they could be issued with a fine or expelled from the country.

After the new law came into force, the Government noted there was a need to give out visas to foreigners who remained in Georgia so they do not have to return to their homelands to obtain an appropriate visa.

Under the current law, people must leave Georgia and address a Georgian diplomatic representation abroad. For the foreigners who were lawfully in Georgia but had not obtained a relevant visa, returning to their homeland to apply for a visa required "a significant amount of time and financial resources” and put foreigners who legally lived in Georgia in "adverse conditions”, the Government said.

The new project, initiated in Parliament, would see temporary preferential treatment offered to foreigners to obtain a residency permit. In particular, foreigners who had been issued with a residency permit or who entered Georgia after March 17, 2014, will be exempted from the liability to present a document certifying they adhered to Georgian laws until March 1, 2015.

Georgia’s Parliament decided to discuss the project on an expedited basis and the issue was due to be reviewed at today’s committee meetings.