Parliament passed on November 14 with its third and final reading amendments to ease some of the procedures of tightened new visa and migration regulations, which went into force from September.
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According to the amendment a foreign citizen, who is already in Georgia on a legal basis, can apply for a long-term immigration visa to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Georgia, no longer requiring going back to a home country to file an application with the Georgian diplomatic mission; an application should be filed with the Georgian MFA 45 days before expiration of valid visa; visa application fee will be set at GEL 100.
A foreign citizen, whose residence permit has already expired or who has entered into Georgia after March 17, 2014, can apply to the Public Service Development Agency for residence permit before March 1, 2015. If in this case a foreign citizen obtains a residence permit, this person will not be subject to a financial penalty, according to the amendment.
Those foreign citizens, who fall under the category of Georgian “compatriots” as defined by the law passed in 2011, will be eligible to obtain a long-term Georgian resident permits, according to the amendment. This amendment allows those individuals, who were Georgian citizens, but lost it because of obtaining citizenship of another country, to apply for a status of “compatriot” to then become eligible for a long-term residence permit in Georgia.
According to the amendment duration of transit visa will be increased from five to ten days.
The Georgian Justice Ministry said that after new visa and migration regulations were enforced in September, about 2,000 foreign citizens now residing in Georgia faced expulsion and the amendments aimed at giving more grace period to them for obtaining residence permits.
Although Georgia keeps visa-free rules with 104 countries and territories, down from 117, citizens from those countries are able to stay in Georgia starting from September 1 for a maximum of 90 days without visa, instead of previous 360. Under the new rules a long-term visa can only be obtained at Georgia’s diplomatic missions abroad, not in Georgia – the rule which has now been amended by the newly adopted bill; long-term visa is also a precondition for obtaining residence permit. There have also been numerous complaints about burdensome, ill-planned, and ambiguous procedures and bureaucratic barriers for obtaining residence permits.