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Visa, residency, passport
Vardanyan & Partners
Georgia has a strategic location in the Caucasus region and is a primary spot for investors who want to access both the European and Asian markets. The country boasts a uniquely liberal business and trade regimes, low taxes, developing infrastructure and attractive visa and immigration policy. Since March 2017 holders of Georgian passports can travel visa free to EU/Schengen countries.
To qualify for a permanent (investor) residence permit you will need to invest at least 300,000 laris (around USD 122,000) in the Georgian economy in the form of loans, term deposits, purchase of real estate or other assets. The value of the investment has to be verified by an independent auditor. Moreover, the application for a permanent residence permit has to be supported by a member of the Georgian government or by three business managers who must be Georgian citizens. As its name suggests, the permanent residence permit is issued for an indefinite period of time. However, the residence card has to be replaced every five years.
Georgia's police and security service conduct thorough background checks for each candidate. Accordingly, there may be no guarantees that your application will be approved. In practice, applicants from Western countries are treated more favorably, whereas applicants from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria or Pakistan will have to show a really strong case to quality for a residence permit.
Short-term residence permits are issued to owners of real estate who have purchased an apartment, house, development land or any other residential or commercial property worth USD 35,000 and more. The value of the investment has to be verified by an independent auditor. A short-term residence permit is valid for one year, extendable by another 5 years and convertible into a permanent residence permit at the end of the 6-year term, provided that the investment remains in place.
The average prices in the capital Tbilisi are around US$ 900 per sq. m., with properties in the center closer to US$ 1,500. Prices are slightly lower in the second largest city, the seaside resort Batumi. Rental property is generally more profitable in Tbilisi which hosts tourists all year round, whereas Batumi is popular in summer. For US$ 35,000 it is possible to purchase a one-bedroom apartment in Tbilisi.
You also can obtain a work residence permit if you freelance or start a business in Georgia. You will have to show that you have at least 4,200 laris (around USD 1,700) in your bank account in Georgia. A work residence permit is issued for a term of up to one year (typically six months), extendable by another 5 years and convertible into a permanent residence permit at the end of the 6-year term, provided that the business remains active and generates revenue.
One year, extendable
Six months, extendable
Invest in economy
Invest in real estate
Freelance or run a business
Approx. US$ 1,700
Spouse, minor child or incapable dependent
After 10 years
Georgia is a modern and fast growing country with rich history and traditions, beautiful nature, excellent cuisine. The cost of living is low compared to other European countries. A list of indicative prices can be found here.
A Georgian residence permit grants you the right to unrestricted stay in the country and the right to engage in any lawful activities, such as doing business, working, studying or simply retiring. A resident may invite other foreigners to Georgia. Residents enjoy constitutional rights and freedoms, including rights to work, healthcare, social security, education, property and privacy rights, freedom of speech, conscience, religion and belief. Georgian residents are not obliged to serve in the military.
You may apply for a Georgian passport after five years of residence in the country. In addition to the residency requirement you will have to show basic knowledge of Georgian language, history and law, and that you have real property, a job or own a business in Georgia.
Georgian passport ranks 53rd in the world (as of 2018) and allows visa-free travel to 100 countries, including EU/Schengen countries, most of CIS countries, Iran and Turkey.
Georgia does not allow dual citizenship, unless Georgian citizenship is granted as an exception by the President for services rendered to the country and in certain other cases. If it is revealed that you are a citizen of another country your Georgian passport may be revoked.
If you hold a Georgian residence permit your family members also can apply for residence permits for family reunification. Under Georgian immigration law only spouses, minor children (under 18) and legally incapable or disabled persons dependent on the main applicant are treated as family members. A residence permit for family reunification is issued if documents are submitted showing the kinship (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate) and availability of financial means (income or savings) to support the family members.
Step 1. Get a Visa
Step 2. Come to Georgia
Step 3. Register a Business
Step 4. Open Bank Account
Step 5. Transfer Funds
Step 6. Make the Investment
Step 7. Collect Documents
Step 8. Apply for Residency
Step 9. Pick up the Permit
As a general rule, only holders of immigration visas (D category) are allowed to apply for residence permits, unless you apply for a permanent (investment) residence permit which can be obtained as long as you have a lawful status in Georgia (e.g. as a short-term visitor). Also, an immigration visa is not required for citizens of countries who are allowed to stay in Georgia visa-free for one full year. The list of these countries is available here.
If you need an immigration visa you can apply for it at Georgian embassies abroad. It is also possible to obtain an immigration visa in Tbilisi, provided that the applicant has at least 45 days before his/her lawful status expires.
If you need an immigration visa you will have to submit documents showing 1) purpose of visit 2) sufficient financial means 3) proof of accommodation 4) travel and health insurance. Owners of real estate do not have to provide these documents. Instead, they must show a certificate of ownership of real estate.
Immigration visas are issued to foreigners coming to Georgia for work and business (D1), freelancing (D2), family reunification (D4) as well as to owners of real estate worth $35,000 and higher (D5).
An immigrant visa is normally issued within 30 days. Owners of real estate can get a D5 visas in 10 days. The government fees for obtaining an immigration visa are around US$ 20.
Nationals of 98 countries can travel to Georgia visa-free. The list includes EU countries, CIS countries, Gulf countries, Iran (45 days), Lebanon etc. You can check the full list here. In addition, holders of visas or residence permits of around 50 countries (EU countries, Gulf countries, USA, Australia, Canada etc.) can also travel to Georgia visa-free. The list of these countries is available here.
Other foreigners will have to obtain short-term visas before entering Georgia. For nationals of most countries it is not necessary to deal with embassies as short-term visas can be obtained electronically (e-visa). Generally it is not possible to get a visa on arrival (at the border). Short-term visas are not subject to extension, unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, it may be possible to defer the obligation to leave Georgia if your visa is valid for at least 7 days. In particular, deferral may be granted if an application for residency has been filed or if court proceedings are pending.
After your residence permit application is approved you will get a residence card in 10 business days if you pay the regular fee of GEL 30 (USD 12). However, it is possible to speed up the process if you pay a fast-track service fee:
Fifth business day
GEL 40 (US$ 16)
Third business day
GEL 50 (US$ 20)
Second business day
GEL 60 (US$ 24)
Same business day
GEL 65 (US$ 26)
If the overstay is less than 3 months the amount of the fine is GEL 180 (around US$ 71). A longer overstay is punishable by a fine of GEL 360 (around US$ 142).
We are a team of licensed immigration lawyers based in Armenia. We can provide you with all necessary support and guidance from the very beginning to the very end of the process. For more information on Georgia residence permit programs please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
37 Mashtots Ave., Suite 4, Yerevan 0028, Armenia
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