On 30 May 2019, the Parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the law of Georgia on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons (the “Law on Aliens”), which will be effective from 5 July 2019. The amendments to the Law on Aliens change the rules related to granting work residence permit, investment residence permit and short-term residence permit. According to the explanatory note, changes are required for economic purposes to address the challenges facing Georgia in relation to immigration law.
Changes in relation to work residence permit in Georgia.
According to the current version of the Law on Aliens, the work residence permit shall be granted to any person who carries out entrepreneurial or labor activity in Georgia as well as to freelance professionals. The amendments remove possibility for freelance professional to obtain Georgian residence permit and establish additional requirements for Georgian work residence permit seeker who shall present the following documents: (i) document confirming labor or entrepreneurial activities in Georgia; (ii) document confirming that monthly salary/income of an alien amounts to at least quintuple amount of minimum wage established in Georgia; (iii) document confirming that annual turnover of a company employing foreigner or established by foreigner amounts to at least GEL 50,000 per each permit seeker. Lower annual turnover in the amount of GEL 35,000 is established for educational and medical entities.
In case of termination of employment relations with an alien, the employer shall no later than 5 calendar days provide information to the State Services Development Agency (the “Agency”) and the Agency shall terminate respective residence permit.
Changes in relation to investment residence permit in Georgia.
According to the current version of the Law on Aliens, permanent residence permit is issued to the aliens who make investment in the amount of at least GEL 300,000. The amendment to the Law on Aliens increases the amount of investment to equivalent of USD 300,000 and instead of granting permanent residence, establishes issuance of 5-year term initial residence permit and further granting of permanent residence permit in case the foreigner meets the requirements as set out in the Law on Aliens.
Specifically, prior to expiration of every residence year, an alien who has obtained investment residence permit, shall submit to the Agency a document from LEPL Revenue Service confirming that the investment has the following turnover: (i) at least USD 50,000 for first year of residency; (ii) at least USD 100,000 for the second year of residency; (iii) at least USD 120,000 for the third, fourth and fifth year of residency. In case an alien maintains investment residence permit for 5 years and submits documents confirming that investment turnover in the fifth year amounted to at least USD 120,000, he/she will be granted a permanent residence permit. Investment residence permit may be terminated at any time, if a foreigner fails to submit documents or fails to confirm specific turnover for each year of residency.
Foreigner who acquire a real property in Georgia with a value of at least USD 300,000 may also obtain investment residence permit. In order to retain residence permit and further obtain permanent residence permit, an alien shall at all times during 5 years maintain ownership over the real property. At the same time, LEPL National Agency of Public Registry of Georgia (the “Public Registry”) shall immediately inform the Agency regarding termination of the ownership right of an alien over such real property and the Agency shall terminate respective residence permit.
Changes in relation to short term residence permit
As set out in the current law, short-term residence permit is issued to aliens who obtain ownership over immovable property the value of which amounts to at least USD 35,000. Amendments introduced by the Parliament of Georgia increase the value of property up to USD 100,000.
In order to retain residence permit, an alien shall at all times during the residence period maintain ownership over the real property. Similarly to investment residence permit, the Public Registry shall immediately inform the Agency regarding termination of the ownership right of an alien over such real property and the Agency shall terminate respective residence permit.
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Following entrance into force of the changes to the Law on Aliens, the Government of Georgia will highly likely introduce a new version or amend existing version of the rules related to issuance of residence permit. Such updated rules will provide further clarifications and details in relation to the documents to be presented to the Agency and the process of decision-making by the Agency.