Home Travel & Adventure Seven Years Since Georgians Gained Visa-Free Travel to EU: Lingering Concerns Over...

Seven Years Since Georgians Gained Visa-Free Travel to EU: Lingering Concerns Over Compliance with Liberalization Rules


On Thursday, March 28, Georgia marked seven years since its nationals started travelling visa-free to the then-26 Schengen Area Member States.

According to the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, visa-free travel has been an achievement on the EU path that has opened new horizons for Georgians, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

Many expected a mass exodus from Georgia but, from this vantage point, the visa-free travel only opened new horizons and brought eye-opening opportunities for our citizens.

Shalva Papuashvili, Chairman of Georgian Parliament

The Ambassador of Georgian Mission to the EU, Vato Makharoblishvili, has also praised the milestone, calling it an excellent opportunity for brining Georgia closed to the EU.

Seven years of Visa Free between Georgia & EU – one of the most significant achievements on Georgia’s EU accession path. Visa-free travel is an excellent opportunity for enhancing people-to-people contacts & bringing Georgia even closer to the EU.

Vato Makharoblishvili, Georgian ambassador to EU

Georgian Passport Is World’s 77the Most Powerful

Chairman Papuashvili has also applauded the work done on reaching visa-free travel arrangements with several other nationals outside Europe, including with China, reminding his followers on the increased strength the Georgian passport has gained due to such agreements.

According to Visa Guide Passport Index, the Georgian passport is the world’s 77th strongest passport, out of 199. It offers its holders the opportunity to travel completely visa0free to 86 other countries.

In addition, Georgians can enter two countries with a travel authorisation, 35 with a visa on arrival, and another 24 with an electronic visa.

Concern of Georgian Citizens Staying Illegally in the EU Remains

After Georgia joined the list of visa-free countries, numerous Georgians used the opportunity to travel to the EU. Within the five first years alone 645,639 Georgian citizens have made a total of 1,398,803 trips to the Schengen Area.

However, in many of these trips, Georgian nationals were reaching the EU without proper documentation. For example, their passports did not meet the rules set for travel to the EU, or they did not meet other requirements, like having proof on the purpose for their trip, and a place to stay.

As a result, in January 2021, the Georgian authorities started carrying out additional checks at all border points, asking travellers for these documentation, in order to permit the latter to leave the territory of Georgia for the EU

In August last year, the Chair of the Georgian Parliament’s European Union Integration Committee Maka Botchorishvili, had raised the issue of Georgian nationals staying in the EU beyond the 90 permitted days, and engaging in activities that visa-free travel does not grant them access to, like work.

She had also pointed out that there’s a large share of rejected asylum applications filed by Georgians in the EU countries.

The percentage of [asylum request] refusal is 50 per cent, which is due to the fact that, in most cases, applications of asylum seekers are unsubstantiated and are not granted.

At the time, Botchorishvili had reminded citizens of Georgia that seeking illegal ways to remain in EU is harmful not only for the country, but also for them.

The sixth report of the Commission on the fulfilment of visa-free obligations by Eastern Partnership countries had also highlighted the issue of “unfounded asylum applications” filed by its citizens in the EU.

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