Georgian Citizenship – Something to Keep in Mind
Henley & Partners published its Passport Index for Q1 2023 and Georgia ranks 50th in the global ranking, which is a quite good result. For those, who don’t know about Henley & Partners – it regularly publishes Henley Passport Index, which is original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
This article is about how to gain the Georgian double citizenship and it might be interesting for those, who already have or think that they have some connections with Georgia. The connection might be that they have been born in Georgia, they have been living and working in Georgia for some time, or one of their parents have been born in Georgia or have been a citizen of Georgia, or other factual circumstances.
But until we get into the eligibility criteria, the first question that comes to your mind is: does gaining Georgian citizenship automatically mean that I lose my own citizenship? No and no, because Georgian constitutional amendment made in 2018 supports the dual citizenship, when acquiring of Georgian citizenship does not automatically mean losing the other citizenship.
You might also ask: why do I need a Georgian citizenship? In our recent blogs we have written a lot about Georgia becoming a major digital nomad hotspot, attracting more and more foreigners, but in this blog, we will only mention the key benefits of acquiring Georgian citizenship, which includes:
– the right to a 90-day visa free travel to EU countries
– the right to a visa free travel to in total 116 countries all over the world
– the right to live and work in Georgia without any time limit
– business-friendly policies and potentially profitable investment environment
– the right to purchase an agricultural / rural land and many more
– opening the bank account in the leading Georgian banks, etc.
Sounds both compelling and attractive, right? Let’s continue!
The grounds for acquiring Georgian citizenship for the foreigners (who at least have 1 foreign citizenship other than Georgian) is regulated by the organic law On Georgian Citizenship. According to the law, there are the following procedures of acquiring Georgian citizenship:
1. Ordinary Procedure: A person shall be granted a Georgian citizenship under the ordinary procedure if the person:
a. Has lawfully resided in Georgia for the last 10 consecutive years up to the day of applying for Georgian citizenship;
b. Knows the official language of Georgia, history of Georgia and basic principles of law; and
c. Has a job and/or real estate in Georgia, or carries out business activities in Georgia or owns the shares in the Georgian enterprise. However, the continuous employment or business activities are not required for all ten years, but only for a reasonable period of time. The value of the property or company share is assessed on a case-by-case basis by the decision-makers.
2. Exceptional Procedure: This is the most used procedure by the foreigners. The President of Georgia may grant Georgian citizenship by way of exception to a citizen of another country who has made a contribution of exceptional merit to Georgia. The President of Georgia may also grant Georgian citizenship by way of exception to an alien based on state interests.
When evaluating the state interests, the following circumstances shall be taken into account:
a) a foreign citizen considers Georgia to be his/her homeland, and he/she or his/her ancestor is a person residing in an occupied territory of Georgia or is internally displaced from this territory; or a person emigrated in different times for political opinions or for hard social and economic conditions;
b) a foreign citizen has made/is making such an investment in Georgia which represents an important contribution to the development of the Georgian economy;
c) a foreign citizen is successful in sport, science and/or art, and he/she is willing to carry on his/her activity on behalf of Georgia.
When granting Georgian citizenship interested person should know the State language of Georgia, history of Georgia and the basics of law. The sample tests for Georgian citizenship are available on the following links:
Usually the applicants get identical 20 tests from each topic at the examination day.
Don’t worry if the tests look a bit difficult to you, we can always offer you a Georgian teacher, who speaks your language and can test your level of Georgian and then help you with the learning process.
3. Simplified procedure: A person who is married to a Georgian citizen and who has continuously lawfully resided in Georgia for the last five years can acquire Georgian citizenship under simplified procedure if he/she knows the official language of Georgia, the history of Georgia and the basics of the Georgian law.
4. Restoration procedure: Georgian citizenship shall be granted by way of its restoration to a former Georgian citizen, whose Georgian citizenship has been terminated unlawfully, by renunciation of Georgian citizenship, as a result of the choice of his/her parents, or as a result of acquiring citizenship of another foreign country. Restoration procedure requires the applicant to pass only the Georgian language test, while submission of all 3 tests are required for the exceptional procedure.
5. Retention procedure: A citizen of Georgia, who wants to gain a citizenship of the foreign country, shall obtain the consent from the Georgian state to retain the Georgian citizenship before acquiring the other citizenship. However, before 31 December 2024, the citizens of Georgia, who gas gained the foreign citizenship, can apply through this procedure and ask for the consent. Retention procedure does not include submission of any tests.
Depending on the application fee, there are three application timelines available:
Normal procedure lasts 3 months
Fast track procedure lasts 2 months
Fast track procedure last 1 month.
Approximately 40% of the application timeline is dedicated to checking the applicant’s background information. If the applicant has to undergo the testing and the interview, the tests and the interview will be scheduled within another 40% of the timeline and the rest 20% is dedicated to the decision-making process. Usually, the applicants are asked to visit the Justice House in Tbilisi to take tests and the interview, but alternatively, an applicant, who cannot travel to Georgia, can pass tests in diplomatic missions or a consular offices of Georgia abroad and/or issue the Power of Attorney to another person’s name for undertaking the interview in Tbilisi.
Usually the applicants get their online accounts where the status on all the steps and information is uploaded by the state agency from time to time. So, applicants are encouraged to check the system from time to time.
The citizenship cases are administered by Public Services Development Agency. There is a Citizenship Committee composed of 6 experts from different state agencies, who is in charge of interviewing/evaluating the applicants/cases and recommending the President of Georgia to approve or reject the cases. However, the President of Georgia can override the opinion of the Agency. But this happens quite rarely in practice. If we take the recent statistics, during the period of 2018 – 2022, the Agency issued 13,644 positive opinions with regards to granting of citizenship, from which the President of Georgia approved only 13,568 cases, rejecting only 76 cases.
In the case of refusal for granting Georgian citizenship, the applicant may apply using the same procedure 1 year after the date of the refusal or using different procedure (if applicable) at any other time after the refusal. The decision on refusal cannot be appealed at the court.
In almost all cases the following documents are required by the state agency to start the procedure:
1. Filled in application form for citizenship
2. International passport copy (notarized/legalized/apostilled)
3. Certificate of birth
4. Passport sized (3X4) photos, printed and on CD disk
5. Letters of recommendation from 2 citizens of Georgia (in case of exceptional procedure only)
6. Any additional supporting documentation (old passports, proofs of having real property or business in Georgia, other)
In case the applicant is a minor, the parents’ consent on granting the citizenship is also required.
It might happen that some old official documents might be lost by the applicant, however, these documents still can be retrieved from the state archive.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the whole process can be managed through the Power of Attorney: including the submission of the documents and passing the interview, except for the knowledge tests, which can be taken by the applicant himself/herself in Tbilisi or abroad at the diplomatic mission or consular offices of Georgia.
Generally, the process is easy and goes fast.
In case you think you might qualify for the requirements and need additional consultation, our civil lawyers specializing in citizenship law are at your disposal. Book an online consultation with us and we will be happy to assist you. Or just send us an email, we answer within several minutes!