Currently, by law, a foreigner can be granted a permanent residence permit if he or she makes an investment of at least 300,000 GEL or if he or she purchases real estate with a minimum value of $35,000. The bill increases the amount of the investment to $300,000 and the value of a property to $100,000. In addition, if the foreigner invests in Georgia, he or she will no longer receive the right to permanent residence as before - this right will expire after five years and will only be maintained if he or she continues to invest in Georgia; under this sole condition, he or she could then obtain a permanent residence permit.
Citizens of 95 countries can currently stay and work in Georgia for up to one year without a visa. A foreign national is considered as an immigrant if he/she has stayed in Georgia for 183 days in the last 12 months and has spent 183 days in other countries in the last 12 months. According to this definition, there were 90,228 immigrants in Georgia in 2016.
Between 2012 and 2016, 34,024 properties were registered in the name of foreign nationals.
Of the nationals who buy real estate in Georgia, 53% are Russian. Then come the citizens of Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Israel.
Between 2012 and 2016, 70,508 foreigners were granted temporary or permanent residence permits. In 2017, their number decreased due to the simplification of the right of access to Georgia, without a visa, for one year. Azerbaijani citizens occupy the first place among those who have obtained a residence permit. Next come Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine, India, China and Iran.
The majority of temporary work-related residence permits are granted to nationals of Turkey, India, China, Ukraine and Iran.
Temporary residence permits for study purposes are mainly granted to citizens of India, Iraq, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Under family reunification, temporary or permanent residence permits are mainly granted to citizens of Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine and Turkey.
Between 2012 and 2016, only 9,408 applications for residence were rejected, representing 12% of the total number of applications.
This new bill was initiated following a accidental discovery. An apartment in Tbilisi was used by about 15 foreign nationals to illegally obtain a permanent residence permit. A first foreign national became the owner of the apartment (worth more than $35,000), and by law received a residence permit. Then he transferred ownership of the apartment to another national who in the same way applied for a residence permit, obtained it and then transferred the apartment to another person and so on. The new bill is therefore to prevent such incidents and deter foreigners from illegally obtaining a residence permit. The new law will stipulate that if a foreign national buys real estate for the purpose of obtaining a residence permit and transfers it to someone else, he or she will automatically lose his or her right to obtain it or lose de facto residence status.
The drafters of the law stress that Georgian State must protect the rights of its citizens and entrepreneurs, and that it should not be perceived as a xenophobic act, but as an action aimed at protecting the country's natural interests.