Thursday, October 9, 2014

Georgia improves visa policy

09.10.2014. Georgia has decided to bring some corrections to its newly amended visa policy in an effort to keep the right balance between the European Union's requirements and liberal approaches.

Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said the new regulations need some corrections. "Of course, everything new brings certain complications. Not everything can end up as we planned, nevertheless, we know where the weak points are," Panjikidze noted.

The Georgian government has recently amended the law "On the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons", which enacted on September 1. The renewed legislation particularly reduced the period for the foreigners' visa-free stay in the country's territory.

The updated visa regulations enabled Georgia to issue multiple-entry visas with a period of 180 days for the citizens of the countries which apply a visa regime with the South Caucasus country. It also allows the visa holder to stay for a total of 90 days within a period of 180 days in Georgia's territory.

The citizens of the countries which Georgia applies visa-free regime - European states, NATO and CIS member-states, as well as the countries which are the important partners - will have a right to stay in the country for a total of 90 days within a period of six months without an entry visa.

Those who desire to stay in Georgia for a longer period, will have to get a relevant entry visa at the Georgian consulate in the country of permanent residence. Only some certain exceptional cases will allow the foreigners to receive an entry visa at the border checkpoints. The practice of issuing residence permits will simultaneously be in progress in the country.

"The amendments to the law aim to keep the right balance between the European Union's requirements and liberal approaches, which we need for the progress of tourism. We are doing our best to firstly apply the e-applications and e-visa issuing, which do not require the physical existence of the foreign citizens at Georgian consulates and embassies," Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on October 6.

He added that the shortages in the process of issuing residence permits to the foreigners in Georgia should also be eliminated.

Georgia's expanding proximity with the European Union will open up the world's largest markets to Georgia, Chairman of the Free Zone Public Organization Gela Vasadze said.

"Georgian businessmen will try to increase their quality standards and integrate into the European economy. It's not just about the products, but also services and tourism. One European tourist is more beneficial for Georgia than several tourists from the other countries, because the European tourist spends much money," he noted.

Vasadze added that Georgia's neighboring countries will get the chance to step into the European markets by launching an intermediate company in Georgia. "That's very important for the strengthening of economic ties and establishment of the common Caucasian economic space," he said.

Vasadze believes that the new visa regulations will provide novel opportunities for the European entrepreneurs to carry their business to Georgia, where the taxes are low and workforce is cheaper. "All these will together lead to the development of infrastructure and create new jobs, in other words, will end up in the improvement of economy and living standards in Georgia."


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