On 2nd February 2017 Georgian nationals were granted a visa exemption to travel to the European Union’s Schengen Area. This new law, passed by the European Parliament, allows Georgians to enter the EU for short stays without a visa.
The visa exemption will therefore apply to 22 EU member states and 4 non-member countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Whilst Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not included, they do have visa policies based on the Schengen Area. The visa exemption will not apply to the United Kingdom or Ireland as they have exercised the right to opt out of the Schengen Area.
The exemption provides all Georgian holders of a biometric passport the right to enter the Schengen area without a visa for 90 days in any 180 day period for business, family or tourist purposes. However, Georgian nationals will not be able to undertake work in the Schengen Area without the relevant work visa.
Before the visa exemption can come into force the legislation must be formally approved by the Council of Ministers. The visa exemption is also subject to a suspension mechanism which will allow the reintroduction of visas if there is a surge of migration, or risks to public security. This suspension mechanism was approved by the European Parliament on 15th December and is soon to be finalised. Only once this is in place can the visa exemption take effect.
UPDATE: The visa-free regime for Georgian nationals entered into force on 28th March 2017.
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