ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Georgia’s New Immigration Law: Many Losers and no Winners

This year, the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) admitted nine Armenian students and one from Azerbaijan. They came to Tbilisi for a preparation course in August and all of them applied for residency permits before the first of September. All applications were exactly identical. Out of ten students, seven got their permits, two were denied, and one is still in process. The reasons for rejection were stated in most general terms, relating to Article 18 of the new immigration law. That article reads:

 “An alien may be denied a residence permit in Georgia if there is a decision of an authorized body on the advisability of his/her residence in Georgia with regard to safeguarding state security and/or public safety interests.”

It seems logical that, if the two Armenian students who were denied residency permits are a threat to “state security” or “public safety”, they should not have been allowed into Georgia in the first place. But they did enter the country and can even stay here for three months, ample time to wreak havoc on Georgia. Denying residency out of security concerns – without denying entry to the country – is pointless.

As things currently stand, the students in question will have to leave the country and discontinue their studies at ISET. The only option given to them is to appeal this decision in court, and this process will take months. The career plans of these two students, who had prevailed in a long and difficult selection process, are now irreversibly damaged. This is a tragedy for those students, for ISET, but also the country of Georgia.


A LAW FULL OF FLAWS

The new immigration law (and the manner in which it is being implemented) is already causing huge waves in the Georgian expat community. It is a subject of heated discussions on Facebook, at business meetings and parties. For one thing, the law poses unnecessary cost on those seeking residency. The most serious issue is that foreigners cannot apply for residency if they entered Georgia without a special visa which can only be obtained abroad. This rule was not communicated well, and it is not a good rule. Israel, for example, allows everybody to apply for residency inside the country within the three month stay that every visitor is granted. In Georgia, we know of employees of international organizations who now have to return to their home countries just for applying for a visa at the local Georgian embassies. And it remains to be seen whether Georgian embassies are capable of efficiently dealing with these visa requests.

ISET is not the only university feeling the heat of new immigration regulations. In particular, it undermines the business model of Georgia’s medical universities which “sell” their educational services to foreigners. International students are typically not aware of the intricacies of Georgian visa regulations. Some had just returned for the start of the new semester only to find out that they have to go back to their home countries for a month in order to apply for special student visas, which means that this semester is lost for them. Who knows whether they will return at all?

Another heavy flaw in the new law is the way in which it treats people who do not have regular employment. These may be freelancers with highly demanded expertise (such as architects and engineers) but also artists, persons engaged in culture, and “bohemians”.

Thanks to many of these irregularly employed foreigners, Georgia was about to become a "cool" place, something that can be easily confirmed by reading their declarations of love for Georgia on the internet. To a considerable extent, this development came about because Georgia was so successful in attracting artists, bloggers, travelers and generally interesting people (who are considered to belong to the “cultural capital” of a country in economics).

Being a “cool” place is not about having a lot of people who work from 9 to 5 every day, as Georgian lawmakers may have thought. Rather it is about artists and cultural entrepreneurs who may indulge in a precarious and unpredictable life. These people have a positive impact on the atmosphere in a city, helping transform a boring, provincial place into a cosmopolitan hotspot. And this has economic implications, because it is much easier to attract economically relevant people to places which have a culturally attractive international atmosphere, like Amsterdam and London. Georgia may now be squandering the advantage it had over much richer places like Almaty, Baku, and Tashkent.


GOOD RULES DON’T TRAVEL WELL

It is a widespread misconception that the changes in immigration policy were forced upon Georgia by the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union. The AA text, however, includes only very general statements concerning immigration policy. None of its provisions would force Georgia to (immediately) copy – lock, stock and barrel – European immigration laws.

References to “standard international practice” that are being made by government officials defending the new immigration laws are also completely misplaced. Yes, most EU countries do regulate migration, yet, Georgia is far from being a typical EU member state and faces completely different challenges.

While Europe is trying to prevent low-skill immigrants from other continents to “invade” the European habitat and destroy its “way of life”, Georgia’s labor market is in dire need of every European engineer, lawyer, expert farmer and teacher it can attract. Unfortunately for Georgia, there are only 250-300 Germans living permanently in Georgia (based on the German embassy’s database), as compared to 15,079 Georgians officially registered in Germany. Florian Biermann, writing this article, is one of these German citizens, teaching modern economics at Tbilisi’s International School of Economics along with professors from Italy and Israel, US and Canada, UK and France, Ukraine and Armenia. The purpose of Georgia’s immigration policy should be to make it easier for experts to enter and reside in Georgia, not to create artificial bureaucratic barriers on their way here.

While it is much more difficult for a Georgian to get residency in Germany due to its restrictive immigration policies, the economic opportunities available in Germany still attract many people from outside. Georgia, on the other hand, is not (yet) a primary target of international migration, and is therefore not (yet) in a position to be restrictive about its immigration. The fact that many more Georgians legally reside in Germany than the other way around clearly demonstrates this point.

If the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Levan Izoria states that the new law "significantly changes the extremely liberal migration policy conducted by the former leadership of the country", he is absolutely right. Yet the “extremely liberal migration policy” was one of the extremely few advantages Georgia had when competing for businesses, investments, and human capital. From an economics perspective, an “extremely liberal” migration policy was the absolute right choice for Georgia! It produced a lot of economic benefits and carried no costs (except for the cost of small wine bottles presented to foreigners in Tbilisi airport in 2012).

As there are no social welfare payments for foreigners (a huge issue in “socialist” Europe), Georgia could afford to have open borders and liberal labor markets. It reaped all the benefits from this policy without having to deal with the disadvantages. In addition to consuming local products and services, the bohemian or the freelance journalist and blogger who chose to settle in Georgia created a lot of (absolutely free) publicity for Georgia and its wonderfully hospitable culture. Not having formal Georgian employment, many of these people are now being denied residency, which is equivalent to shooting the Georgian economy in the foot.

We wonder if anybody in the Georgian government is aware of what this new policy is doing to Georgia’s image, its economy, education, and tourism. It would be reassuring to know that someone is taking note and discussing a possible way out. For now, it looks like Georgia is going back, not forward.

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Guest - Y on Friday, 26 September 2014 15:22

Who benefits? The bureaucrats with a newfound sense of "purpose" in their lives.

Who benefits? The bureaucrats with a newfound sense of "purpose" in their lives.
Guest - Ali on Friday, 26 September 2014 18:30

once the reputation of a country is damaged, it could not be corrected for many many years. I am seeing lots of my friends who had businesses with Georgian employees are leaving the country. and while they are leaving, they tell everybody else about the unstable situation in Georgia so those potential investors are discouraged as well,
in terms of economics, the consequences of these new regulations in next 6-12 months will be:

1. very few foreign students would apply.
2. the rent will come down as most of the expensive buildings rented by expats will be empty.
3. lower tourist flow from Asian countries since they would prefer to apply for a schengen visa and visit Europe rather than going through the same hassle for obtaining Georgian visa.
4. most people would never plan to visit Georgia since there is not any embassy in their homeland. for example many expats are living in United Arab Emirates who are rich and travel a lot. but there is no Georgian embassy there and the nearest on is in Kuwait. So it is meaningless to travel Georgia if it is so difficult.

and in conclusion, as an important rule in the business world: You must never try hard to buy something, or be eager to get something in a deal, because when you are too eager, the other party will raise the price for you! Turkey and Azerbaijan also like to be part of Europe, but they are not ready to do whatever Europeans want! They are ready to walk away from the deal whenever they want. They have a stand for themselves.
But it's not the same case for Georgian, it seems to be that this country is ready to sacrifice many things to be part of Europe, and after all there is no guarantee that it would happen soon.

once the reputation of a country is damaged, it could not be corrected for many many years. I am seeing lots of my friends who had businesses with Georgian employees are leaving the country. and while they are leaving, they tell everybody else about the unstable situation in Georgia so those potential investors are discouraged as well, in terms of economics, the consequences of these new regulations in next 6-12 months will be: 1. very few foreign students would apply. 2. the rent will come down as most of the expensive buildings rented by expats will be empty. 3. lower tourist flow from Asian countries since they would prefer to apply for a schengen visa and visit Europe rather than going through the same hassle for obtaining Georgian visa. 4. most people would never plan to visit Georgia since there is not any embassy in their homeland. for example many expats are living in United Arab Emirates who are rich and travel a lot. but there is no Georgian embassy there and the nearest on is in Kuwait. So it is meaningless to travel Georgia if it is so difficult. and in conclusion, as an important rule in the business world: You must never try hard to buy something, or be eager to get something in a deal, because when you are too eager, the other party will raise the price for you! Turkey and Azerbaijan also like to be part of Europe, but they are not ready to do whatever Europeans want! They are ready to walk away from the deal whenever they want. They have a stand for themselves. But it's not the same case for Georgian, it seems to be that this country is ready to sacrifice many things to be part of Europe, and after all there is no guarantee that it would happen soon.
Guest - Steven Hermans on Friday, 26 September 2014 15:24

Georgia was an easy place to stay. It now became like everywhere else: Europe, Central Asia, US,...

Georgia was an easy place to stay. It now became like everywhere else: Europe, Central Asia, US,...
Guest - Eric Livny on Friday, 26 September 2014 15:31

Why Y and not full name? You haven't yet received your residency permit?

Why Y and not full name? You haven't yet received your residency permit?
Guest - Simon Appleby on Friday, 26 September 2014 15:42

Arguing that the new policy is required by the EU is not sensible. EU heavyweight Italy has recently decriminalised illegal immigration, and has become a magnet for undocumented aliens of every stripe sailing across the Mediterranean to Sicily; the Italian Navy has become like a sea taxi for them, many of whom are probably jihadists with sinister intentions.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9303722/italys-decriminalising-of-illegal-immigration-has-acted-as-a-green-light-to-boat-people/

Even at its most liberal, Georgia was not a significant conduit for ne'er-do-wells to Europe.

Arguing that the new policy is required by the EU is not sensible. EU heavyweight Italy has recently decriminalised illegal immigration, and has become a magnet for undocumented aliens of every stripe sailing across the Mediterranean to Sicily; the Italian Navy has become like a sea taxi for them, many of whom are probably jihadists with sinister intentions. http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9303722/italys-decriminalising-of-illegal-immigration-has-acted-as-a-green-light-to-boat-people/ Even at its most liberal, Georgia was not a significant conduit for ne'er-do-wells to Europe.
Guest - Francesco Bagnardi on Saturday, 27 September 2014 11:41

This ISET's article, like many others, is a good one. it highlights good points and foods for thought. I think we 'd better to discuss here about that.
Unfortunately I found myself reading the Spectator's article as well. I felt I had to specify a couple of things about that, because the subject is tragic and a more competent/informed based approach would be advisable.

1. Last October, italian government didn't decriminalise illegal immigration but it changed the charge for the illegal immigration, which remains illegal as before.
In 2009, Northern League minister of Berlusconi's government introduced a new norm which increased the bureaucratic burden for judges dealing with immigration issues. The norm established that immigrant illegally staying in the country is criminal for penal code and shallbe imprisoned for an amount of years i don't remember.
This was just useless because the law already existing and still in force nowadays, establishes that the illegal immigrant shall be repatriated anyway, with or without additional penal charges. Moreover this law was probably unconstitutional because solid jurisprudence claimed an immigrant can’t be unlawful just because he exists in a specified territory, without committing material crime.
Anyway, the law has been amended before Costitutional Court's judgement.
Instead of prison now, the illegal immigrant has to pay a penalty of 10000 euro. Still, in the practice, the immigrant will be repatriated probably before he will reasonably have those money. So it looks pretty senseless this law as well.

2. Mare Nostrum is a military-humanitarian operation which operates in cooperation with Frontex (EU counterpart). It has 2 aims:
- Save boat people in the national waters (as established by international laws)
- Catch human traffickers.
This operation responds to several duties coming form international (human rights’, refugee’ rights’)conventions that Italy signed, and therefore legally binding for the country.
Just to be clear, without Mare Nostrum, immigrants dying in the sea (national and international waters) would be more and immigration fluxes would be less, mostly because of an increased rate of those who sink in the crossing.
This would reduce immigration for sure, but it is not acceptable, not only for ethics but also for laws.
3. The immigration fluxes are seasonal in Mediterranean Sea. They increase in summer and decrease in winter.
This summer has been harder than others, with increasing immigration. Nevertheless, this cannot be “Mare Nostrum” or law-changing effect, as the journalist claim.
Datas and trends clearly show that Immigration in the basin isdramatically increasing since Arab Springs. Political instability and end of agreements with southern Mediterranean governments raise the opportunity for boat people to try the crossing.
The agreement Berlusconi-Ghaddafi though, a kind of “outsourcing of immigration management”, was a ruthless (and criminal) agreement which violated several human rights’ and refugee’s rights’ conventions. We used to help Ghaddafi to "manage" the problem in the way he knew better. Gross violations were confirmed in one case issued to the ECHR that convicted Italy (CASE OF HIRSI JAMAA AND OTHERS v. ITALY, February 2012).
4. Immigrants try to reach northern Europe countries not really because of welfare (about that, this is the first time I read that British welfare is “more generous and open” than others, but anyway...).
Immigrants seek jobs most of all. Then they are attracted by countries where they can speak their language. Moreover they tend to cluster in places where other immigrants from same community/region are already settled. This is to say that the journalist’s point of view is populist and inexact again.
5. “Greece too, and even the Maltese, use force to keep out migrants.”, the journalist write, just forgetting to mention that those are the best-violators of European Union Dublin System.

Now, said what I said, I don’t know if immigrants coming in Europe through Sicily are jihadists with sinister intentions. Unless you would not want to state a racist statement, it would be better to prove what you say, at least with some kind of argumentation (hopefully not as uninformed as those in the article).
And anyway I still don’t get how your intervention could contribute to the debate raised by ISET’s article.
Nothing personal of course, just I felt to spend some minutes to clear couple of malevolent cliché

This ISET's article, like many others, is a good one. it highlights good points and foods for thought. I think we 'd better to discuss here about that. Unfortunately I found myself reading the Spectator's article as well. I felt I had to specify a couple of things about that, because the subject is tragic and a more competent/informed based approach would be advisable. 1. Last October, italian government didn't decriminalise illegal immigration but it changed the charge for the illegal immigration, which remains illegal as before. In 2009, Northern League minister of Berlusconi's government introduced a new norm which increased the bureaucratic burden for judges dealing with immigration issues. The norm established that immigrant illegally staying in the country is criminal for penal code and shallbe imprisoned for an amount of years i don't remember. This was just useless because the law already existing and still in force nowadays, establishes that the illegal immigrant shall be repatriated anyway, with or without additional penal charges. Moreover this law was probably unconstitutional because solid jurisprudence claimed an immigrant can’t be unlawful just because he exists in a specified territory, without committing material crime. Anyway, the law has been amended before Costitutional Court's judgement. Instead of prison now, the illegal immigrant has to pay a penalty of 10000 euro. Still, in the practice, the immigrant will be repatriated probably before he will reasonably have those money. So it looks pretty senseless this law as well. 2. Mare Nostrum is a military-humanitarian operation which operates in cooperation with Frontex (EU counterpart). It has 2 aims: - Save boat people in the national waters (as established by international laws) - Catch human traffickers. This operation responds to several duties coming form international (human rights’, refugee’ rights’)conventions that Italy signed, and therefore legally binding for the country. Just to be clear, without Mare Nostrum, immigrants dying in the sea (national and international waters) would be more and immigration fluxes would be less, mostly because of an increased rate of those who sink in the crossing. This would reduce immigration for sure, but it is not acceptable, not only for ethics but also for laws. 3. The immigration fluxes are seasonal in Mediterranean Sea. They increase in summer and decrease in winter. This summer has been harder than others, with increasing immigration. Nevertheless, this cannot be “Mare Nostrum” or law-changing effect, as the journalist claim. Datas and trends clearly show that Immigration in the basin isdramatically increasing since Arab Springs. Political instability and end of agreements with southern Mediterranean governments raise the opportunity for boat people to try the crossing. The agreement Berlusconi-Ghaddafi though, a kind of “outsourcing of immigration management”, was a ruthless (and criminal) agreement which violated several human rights’ and refugee’s rights’ conventions. We used to help Ghaddafi to "manage" the problem in the way he knew better. Gross violations were confirmed in one case issued to the ECHR that convicted Italy (CASE OF HIRSI JAMAA AND OTHERS v. ITALY, February 2012). 4. Immigrants try to reach northern Europe countries not really because of welfare (about that, this is the first time I read that British welfare is “more generous and open” than others, but anyway...). Immigrants seek jobs most of all. Then they are attracted by countries where they can speak their language. Moreover they tend to cluster in places where other immigrants from same community/region are already settled. This is to say that the journalist’s point of view is populist and inexact again. 5. “Greece too, and even the Maltese, use force to keep out migrants.”, the journalist write, just forgetting to mention that those are the best-violators of European Union Dublin System. Now, said what I said, I don’t know if immigrants coming in Europe through Sicily are jihadists with sinister intentions. Unless you would not want to state a racist statement, it would be better to prove what you say, at least with some kind of argumentation (hopefully not as uninformed as those in the article). And anyway I still don’t get how your intervention could contribute to the debate raised by ISET’s article. Nothing personal of course, just I felt to spend some minutes to clear couple of malevolent cliché
Guest - Y on Friday, 26 September 2014 16:43

I got the residency permit, thankfully without complications :), but not without some inconveniences. I applied for the permit twice before in the past, and every time the requirements were changing slightly. Either a Georgian translation of a contract was needed, or, as it was this time, a notarized translation of the first page of the passport, but not of the contract. These definitely had to do with different interpretations of the law rather than the law itself.
I fail to see how students from abroad pose a threat by studying and spending money in this country. And why they have to return to their home countries to get a visa. Why not, given the circumstances, allow them to apply from within Georgia? As you say, appealing to the immigration laws of Europe and the US is not helpful at all - Georgia simply cannot afford restrictive laws and their even more restrictive interpretations.

I got the residency permit, thankfully without complications :), but not without some inconveniences. I applied for the permit twice before in the past, and every time the requirements were changing slightly. Either a Georgian translation of a contract was needed, or, as it was this time, a notarized translation of the first page of the passport, but not of the contract. These definitely had to do with different interpretations of the law rather than the law itself. I fail to see how students from abroad pose a threat by studying and spending money in this country. And why they have to return to their home countries to get a visa. Why not, given the circumstances, allow them to apply from within Georgia? As you say, appealing to the immigration laws of Europe and the US is not helpful at all - Georgia simply cannot afford restrictive laws and their even more restrictive interpretations.
Guest - Tiko Tkeshelashvili on Friday, 26 September 2014 17:17

Agree. The proposed law changes are worth advocating. Some words about boring without internationals Tbilisi and Georgia as a not attractive place as compared to Germany with much more opportunities (also truth, but sounds arrogant) are somewhat offensive though. Feeling sorry for all those who lived here without problems and are facing difficulties now.

Agree. The proposed law changes are worth advocating. Some words about boring without internationals Tbilisi and Georgia as a not attractive place as compared to Germany with much more opportunities (also truth, but sounds arrogant) are somewhat offensive though. Feeling sorry for all those who lived here without problems and are facing difficulties now.
Guest - Kent Krammer on Friday, 26 September 2014 19:36

Thing on purpose getting ugly with russian olygarch Ivanishvili who does the best to please Putin and turn Georgia back to empire of Evil

Thing on purpose getting ugly with russian olygarch Ivanishvili who does the best to please Putin and turn Georgia back to empire of Evil
Guest - Sergo Cusiani on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:44

I suspect Kent Krammer would fall down in a faint on having learnt that Misha sold 80% of Georgian economy to Russian companies long before Ivanishvili's appearance.

I suspect Kent Krammer would fall down in a faint on having learnt that Misha sold 80% of Georgian economy to Russian companies long before Ivanishvili's appearance.
Guest - thomas sommer on Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:41

Maybe they afraid that foreigners will abuse the great social system and all the benefits provided in the country.
T

Maybe they afraid that foreigners will abuse the great social system and all the benefits provided in the country. T
Guest - Eric Livny on Monday, 29 September 2014 12:13

A good joke, Thomas!

A good joke, Thomas!
Guest - Fady Asly on Saturday, 27 September 2014 02:26

Sad to see Georgia losing its competitive advantages in every single sphere, I am confident though that this law shall be amended.

Sad to see Georgia losing its competitive advantages in every single sphere, I am confident though that this law shall be amended.
Guest - Eric Livny on Monday, 29 September 2014 12:19

Thanks for sharing your optimism, Fady! I will be very happy to speak at the ICC consultative board on Thursday. Am glad reasonable people in GoG are willing to listen, and, hopefully take corrective action!

Thanks for sharing your optimism, Fady! I will be very happy to speak at the ICC consultative board on Thursday. Am glad reasonable people in GoG are willing to listen, and, hopefully take corrective action!
Guest - Richard D. on Saturday, 27 September 2014 18:06

Tbilisi does not have much going on for a city of its size and has some catching up to do. A disproportionate amount of interesting initiatives took place thanks to young foreign expats who were "bored" and wanted to start something. This certainly has contributed to a faster modernization of society. Whether Georgians themselves want modernization is quite unclear.

Tbilisi does not have much going on for a city of its size and has some catching up to do. A disproportionate amount of interesting initiatives took place thanks to young foreign expats who were "bored" and wanted to start something. This certainly has contributed to a faster modernization of society. Whether Georgians themselves want modernization is quite unclear.
Guest - Yemi on Saturday, 27 September 2014 21:20

This is like a night mare in a situation where by a foreign student applied for visa 4 times and he was denied without any geniue reason and now the government is telling me to go to south Africa to apply for student visa...who is going to sponsor my trip and whats the assurance that i will get visa there to come complete my study, this is so fucked up and i hope they will rectify this asap before i loose my mind.

This is like a night mare in a situation where by a foreign student applied for visa 4 times and he was denied without any geniue reason and now the government is telling me to go to south Africa to apply for student visa...who is going to sponsor my trip and whats the assurance that i will get visa there to come complete my study, this is so fucked up and i hope they will rectify this asap before i loose my mind.
Guest - Concerned Investor on Sunday, 28 September 2014 12:28

this is an important topic, and I am glad you are speaking up about it. Here is my experience: I set up a business in Georgia, created about two dozen jobs, and in principle we should be on track to creating more. But the immigration law has me very concerned.

I showed my investment when applying for residency, explained what we had done, and received only a one-year residency permit. This means that in a year I again have to apply, rather than being given certainty that I can stay. This may sound trivial at first, but consider that investments require a serious commitment.

If you give Georgians a long-term perspective by creating jobs, you should be given a long-term perspective for Georgian residency. That's the way to make lives better, and actually create more winners.

(Indeed, I much prefer to remain anonymous on this issue, as it's not entirely clear whether the government is open to people voicing concerns. That is part of the problem. I hope, indeed, that the government will listen and improve the law.)

this is an important topic, and I am glad you are speaking up about it. Here is my experience: I set up a business in Georgia, created about two dozen jobs, and in principle we should be on track to creating more. But the immigration law has me very concerned. I showed my investment when applying for residency, explained what we had done, and received only a one-year residency permit. This means that in a year I again have to apply, rather than being given certainty that I can stay. This may sound trivial at first, but consider that investments require a serious commitment. If you give Georgians a long-term perspective by creating jobs, you should be given a long-term perspective for Georgian residency. That's the way to make lives better, and actually create more winners. (Indeed, I much prefer to remain anonymous on this issue, as it's not entirely clear whether the government is open to people voicing concerns. That is part of the problem. I hope, indeed, that the government will listen and improve the law.)
Guest - Simon Appleby on Monday, 29 September 2014 12:55

My point is that is is ridiculous for Georgia to hamstring its economy by imposing complicated and expensive bureaucratic immigrations regulations to please Europe, when certain states in Europe have thrown in the towel on controlling who enters the Schengen zone. There is no purpose in trying to be more catholic than the Pope.

My point is that is is ridiculous for Georgia to hamstring its economy by imposing complicated and expensive bureaucratic immigrations regulations to please Europe, when certain states in Europe have thrown in the towel on controlling who enters the Schengen zone. There is no purpose in trying to be more catholic than the Pope.
Guest - Sergo on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:09

There is absolutely nothing new in the discussion. 40 years ago I needed a health certificate to go in for sports at the Football Stadium in Tbilisi. At the University clinic I was supposed to apply for the certificate, I was told they can do the health check though they can not give out the certificate until I provide a certificate that the certain sports group requires a certificate of my fitness to the sports: "Provide a certificate that you need a certificate!" Hope this soviet bureaucracy would ever end...

There is absolutely nothing new in the discussion. 40 years ago I needed a health certificate to go in for sports at the Football Stadium in Tbilisi. At the University clinic I was supposed to apply for the certificate, I was told they can do the health check though they can not give out the certificate until I provide a certificate that the certain sports group requires a certificate of my fitness to the sports: "Provide a certificate that you need a certificate!" Hope this soviet bureaucracy would ever end...
Guest - sjapiashvili on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:25

I agree with mostly everything and I was also saddened when I found out Georgia was changing its immigration policy. Before, I used to "brag" with every EU citizen how liberal we are and how everyone is welcome in our country unlike EU and even non-EU countries. Now, I should slowly stop doing that.
HOWEVER, I have a sense that this article is a bit subjective with its "mood". It seems like Georgia has come up with something strange that was never implemented elsewhere. Anyone who has traveled to Europe as a Georgian citizen had to go through a lot of paperwork, stress, costs, endless lines and sometimes even humiliation. EU law (as maybe laws in general) don't approach Visa applicants individually, which means that to certain extent, someone who truly seeks to study in EU and someone who intends to stay illegally are treated in the same way, which is of course, incredibly unfair to Georgian citizens who have certain education/career plans and have to go through unnecessary paperwork.
The worst treatment I had to experience was in Slovakia. I attended 2 week Youth in action project (EU financed project) which was attended also by Ukrainians and some EU citizens. But it was the Slovakian law ONLY for Georgians which made us go to the police station at 7 am and just stand in 3 hour line in order for them to put an extra stamp in our passports (obviously we already had Visa and stamp when we entered EU/Slovakia) and to "look into our eyes"... When I asked what was the purpose of the procedure, no one could tell. Just strict rules with Georgians.
Also the immigration policy of Romania and Bulgaria are ridiculously low considering their Economic situation not being too far away from Georgia's.
So, on a personal level, I honestly don't feel sorry for any EU citizen who has to go through some paperwork, since their passport is very powerful and at least they get to stay for 90 wherever they want (almost). It's different for our neighbor countries, they already had hard life being able to enter any country and now even us, their neighbors have strict policy with them.

One more thing, the rule that one has to go back to their country to apply for long term visa is international visa policy. Touristic visa is not extendable in most of the countries, most certainly for EU.

Once again, I fully agree with the article that the policy was really beneficial for Georgia, however, my attitude to strict Visa/Immigration policy is generally negative, disregarding the country, I simply think that in 21st century we should once and for all realize that the more we try to limit ourselves and block free movement, the less we will benefit. However, I would like someone to make comprehensive analysis of how beneficial visa and immigration regime is for anyone.

I agree with mostly everything and I was also saddened when I found out Georgia was changing its immigration policy. Before, I used to "brag" with every EU citizen how liberal we are and how everyone is welcome in our country unlike EU and even non-EU countries. Now, I should slowly stop doing that. HOWEVER, I have a sense that this article is a bit subjective with its "mood". It seems like Georgia has come up with something strange that was never implemented elsewhere. Anyone who has traveled to Europe as a Georgian citizen had to go through a lot of paperwork, stress, costs, endless lines and sometimes even humiliation. EU law (as maybe laws in general) don't approach Visa applicants individually, which means that to certain extent, someone who truly seeks to study in EU and someone who intends to stay illegally are treated in the same way, which is of course, incredibly unfair to Georgian citizens who have certain education/career plans and have to go through unnecessary paperwork. The worst treatment I had to experience was in Slovakia. I attended 2 week Youth in action project (EU financed project) which was attended also by Ukrainians and some EU citizens. But it was the Slovakian law ONLY for Georgians which made us go to the police station at 7 am and just stand in 3 hour line in order for them to put an extra stamp in our passports (obviously we already had Visa and stamp when we entered EU/Slovakia) and to "look into our eyes"... When I asked what was the purpose of the procedure, no one could tell. Just strict rules with Georgians. Also the immigration policy of Romania and Bulgaria are ridiculously low considering their Economic situation not being too far away from Georgia's. So, on a personal level, I honestly don't feel sorry for any EU citizen who has to go through some paperwork, since their passport is very powerful and at least they get to stay for 90 wherever they want (almost). It's different for our neighbor countries, they already had hard life being able to enter any country and now even us, their neighbors have strict policy with them. One more thing, the rule that one has to go back to their country to apply for long term visa is international visa policy. Touristic visa is not extendable in most of the countries, most certainly for EU. Once again, I fully agree with the article that the policy was really beneficial for Georgia, however, my attitude to strict Visa/Immigration policy is generally negative, disregarding the country, I simply think that in 21st century we should once and for all realize that the more we try to limit ourselves and block free movement, the less we will benefit. However, I would like someone to make comprehensive analysis of how beneficial visa and immigration regime is for anyone.
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Friday, 13 December 2019

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