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(Jan 09, 2014) On December 13, 2013, the Parliament of Georgia passed, on a first reading, the Bill on the Legal Status of Foreign and Stateless Individuals. (Legal Status of Foreigners Will Be Regulated by a New Law [in Russian], GEORGIANS.RU (Dec. 16, 2013).) Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Levan Izoria, who introduced the legislation in the legislature, stated that, if enacted, the new law would "significantly change the extremely liberal migration policy conducted by the former leadership of the country." (Id.; unofficial translation of the bill into Russian, YANDEX online legal database (search of the database required, last visited Jan. 6, 2014).)

Visas

At present, nationals of more than 100 countries can enter Georgia without a visa and stay there for about a year. According to Izoria, this "open entry" policy is disadvantageous to Georgians, who can travel visa-free only to 12 countries, including Iran, Israel, Turkey, and some of the former Soviet republics. (Id.)

If this legislation becomes law after the three required parliamentary readings, the government would have to review and update the list of countries that have visa-free travel relations with Georgia. Citizens of these countries would be allowed to stay in Georgia no longer than 90 days. The law would eliminate the existing procedure for receiving or extending Georgian visas inside the country or at the border crossing point and would grant the right to issue visas to Georgian consular offices abroad. All visa applicants would be charged a fee in the amount of US$50. (Id.)

Illegal immigrants

The draft law states that police authorities, which are under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, will be responsible for monitoring migrants, reviewing their documents, and deciding on the legality of their stay in Georgia. Upon finding an illegal migrant, the police will extradite him or her. According to the legislation, each extradited person is to be fined, placed in a newly created temporary residence center, and made to leave the country within a month. The extradited person would be banned from returning to Georgia for the ensuing two- to five-year period. The extradition decision can be disputed in a court. (Id.) The migration control authority of the police is also prescribed by the new Law on the Police, which entered into force on January 1, 2014. (New Law on Police Entered into Force [in Russian], GEORGIA ONLINE (Jan. 3, 2014)

Additionally, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, based on the new law, would create and maintain a comprehensive database of information on all border crossings, visas, and residence permits issued; extradition decisions; foreign businesses registered in Georgia, etc. The database would be in operation in 2014. (Legal Status of Foreigners Will Be Regulated by a New Law, supra.)

Permanent Residency

The legislation would also change the procedure for granting permanent residency permits. Permanent residency would be allowed after the expiration of a six-year temporary residence in cases of continuing work or education or following marriage to a Georgian citizen. Victims of human trafficking are also allowed to request permanent residency permits. Additionally, the draft law provides for the establishment of investor visas, which can lead to permanent residence eligibility. Foreigners and members of their families can become permanent residents of Georgia after they invest no less than approximately US$172,000 in the Georgian economy. (Id.)

Author: Peter Roudik More by this author
Topic: Citizenship and nationality More on this topic
 Immigration and nationality More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Georgia More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 01/09/2014