If you are planning to move to Georgia, or are already here and hoping to switch from tourist visa to residence permit, Georgia offers several types of temporary residency permits; the most popular ones are:
- Work Residence permit (For those with a work contract or business in Georgia)
- Short-term residence permit (based on property ownership)
- Residence permit for family reunification
- Other types of residence permit (including student residency permit)
In this article we’ll explore the requirements for the above types of residence permits. It should be noted that legal residency does not instantly mean you get tax residency in Georgia, read more here.
Temporary residence permits are first issued for a period of 6 to 12 months. They may then be extended for an additional period of 1 to 5 years, at the discretion of the SDA agent assessing the case.
Additional extensions can be issued but the total period of issuance of a temporary residence permit in Georgia should not exceed 12 years. After 10 years you would be expected to apply for permanent residency.
For any temporary residence application your current document proving you are legally in the country (Passport stamp, previous temporary residence permit, visa etc) must have at least 40 days validity remaining.
First time applications must be made from within Georgia.
Renewals of an existing permit can be made online from outside Georgia, providing at least 40 days validity remain on that existing permit.
Major Changes May 12th 2021: The SDA has made significant changes to who can apply for residency. A summary of these changes can be found below.
Work residence permit
The work residence permit is granted to individuals who are coming to Georgia due to their entrepreneurial or labor activities. In order to qualify and apply:
- Either you must have an employment contract with at least 6 months remaining
- OR a document proving ownership of the sponsoring LLC or Individual Entrepreneur (ie. registration documents of the LLC or IE ) & proof of sufficient funds to support oneself for the duration of the residence permit (6 to 12 months for the first permit, up to 5 years for future permits).
- Turnover (within any 12 month period) of the sponsoring LLC or IE should exceed 50,000 GEL for each foreigner (owner or employee) in the business – even if those foreigners already have a residence permit via other means. If you are employed at an educational institution or medical facility, their total turnover should exceed 35,000 GEL per applicant.
Turnover can be proven by any of the following: 1. Copy of your VAT turnover statements from the revenue service. 2. Bank statement of your Georgian Business Bank Account in GEL. For IE’s there is some limited scope to use your IE account in some cases, seek advice on this topic. 3. A licensed auditor verifying turnover paid into your foreign bank accounts.
To apply, the following documents should be submitted:
All documents should include a Georgian language version. If the original document is not in Georgian, a legal translation should be included.
- Extract from the Registry of Entrepreneurs and Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entities (ie. Proof of the existence of the Georgian LLC or Individual Entrepreneur)
- Copy of a travel document of the applicant (normally a passport). For the first application, a translated version is normally required. For renewal, so long as you use the same passport, simply a photocopy or the original is sufficient.
- Copy of a document certifying the applicants’ legal stay in Georgia (with at least 40 days validity);
- Document certifying employment or entrepreneurial activity with net income of at least 5 x Georgian subsistence income per month (labor contract or any other document certifying employment or business ownership). As of June 2021, this amount is 205.6 x 5 = 1,028 GEL per month. If this document does not include the legal income of the applicant, proof of sufficient funds can be provided instead.
- A document stating how many foreigners are working with IE or in LLC (Signed by a company director and the company accountant)
- Document showing total turnover of the LLC or Individual Entrepreneur, as detailed above.
- Photo of applicant 3×4 in size;
- Receipt certifying the payment of service fees.
You can get the answer on your application within a maximum of 30 days and a minimum of 10 days.
Your application done for you? See our residency application service.
Short-term residence permit (Based on property ownership)
The short-term residence permit is issued to the person – and his/her family members (dependants or spouse only) – who, according to the rule established by Georgian legislation have the right to immovable property (except for agricultural land), with the market price above 100,000 USD equivalent in GEL. This can be a single property, or a portfolio of property with a total value exceeding the threshold. Note: If you receive residency and subsequently your property is sold or valued below the threshold, your residency becomes automatically invalid.
To grant a short-term residence permit, the market value of the property shall be established by a certified assessor of a body accredited by the Legal Entity under the Public Law Unified National Accreditation Body – Accreditation Centre.
The following documents should be submitted:
- Copy of a travel document of the applicant (property owner);
- Copy of a document certifying the applicants’ legal stay in Georgia (technically with at least 7 days validity for this type of residency only – though they sometimes request 40 days, so we’d advise always applying early);
- A document proving that the applicant owns the immovable property with the value exceeding GEL equivalent of 100,000 USD in the territory of Georgia.
- A document certifying the market value of the property; market value determined by the certified appraiser of the accredited body of the legal entity of public law – the Unified National Accreditation Body – Accreditation Center.
- Photo 3×4 in size;
- Receipt certifying the payment of service fee for application.
- In the event that family members of the property owner also wish to gain residency, their documents must also be provided: Travel document (passport), proof of kinship (birth certificate, marriage certificate etc.), photo 3×4, proof of legal stay in Georgia (if applicable).
Your application done for you? See our residency application service.
Residence permit for family reunification
The residence permit for family reunification is issued to family members of a foreigner already holding a residence permit in Georgia or to family members (Children/dependants & Spouse, only) of a Georgian Citizen. The person who already has residence/citizenship would be considered the “sponsor” of those applying.
To obtain a residence permit for family reunification, a the foreign applicant must submit the following documents to the Agency:
- Copy of a travel document of the applicant (normally a passport);
- Copy of a document certifying the applicants’ legal stay in Georgia (with at least 40 days validity)
- A document proving the relationship (might be a marriage or birth certificate);
- Proof of income or sufficient funds. Either the sponsor or applicant must provide documentation (eg. employment contract) showing they have an income of at least 400 GEL per month for the length of the permit.
OR the applicant can show they have a Georgian bank account with a total amount exceeding 400 GEL times the number of months of the duration of the permit (ie. For a 6 month permit a Georgian bank account in their name with at least 2,400 GEL)
- Photo of applicant 3×4 in size;
- Receipt certifying payment of the service fees.
To get a residence permit for family reunification, applicants should already be in Georgia, if they are applying for the first time. However, if they are applying to extend a current residence permit, they can submit an online application from abroad.
Other types of residence permits:
- The special residence permit is issued to a foreign citizen who might be a victim of human trafficking. Such instances are specified in the Law of Georgia on Combating Human trafficking.
2. Study (Education) residence permit is granted to persons coming to Georgia to study at authorized educational institutions, typically at a university level.
To apply, you need:
- Copy of travel document.
- Copy of document proving legal stay in Georgia – with 40 days validity. (Visa or visa stamp) – though there are options if you have even just 1 day validity, but that requires an additional process
- Certificate issued by an educational institution authorized in Georgia on the study of a foreigner (indicating the estimated duration of study).
- Proof of sufficient funds (around 500 GEL per month, proved by the applicant’s bank statement. If the applicant has a relative who has the income in Georgia, the applicant might use a document that shows income of the relative submitted with the relevant document proving the relationship between those two)
- Photos size 3/4.
3. Temporary residence permit is issued to a foreigner, who according to the Law of Georgia on the elimination of Domestic Violence, Protection of and Support to its Victims, has been recognized as a victim of domestic violence;
4. Residence permit of a former citizen of Georgia is issued to a foreigner whose Georgian citizenship has been previously terminated.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Residence Permit?
Being as Georgia has a 365 day visa on arrival for many nationalities, you may be wondering, why get a residence permit? There are a lot of reasons.
- Right to remain. You don’t need to cross the border, you can just keep renewing the permit. As we discovered during COVID-19, a lot of foreigners who had relied on visa runs for years, could no longer do so and were stuck here illegally.
- Visa runs won’t last forever. Not only can visa runs be problematic, as during COVID-19, but Georgia’s uniquely flexible visa is unlikely to continue forever. 90 days in 180 is likely to come into force at some point in this decade and we may not get much warning. Meaning, if you have not taken steps to qualify for residency, you may not be prepared to do so last minute and end up unable to.
- First step to permanent residency and citizenship. If you are looking for Georgia to be a long term home, 10 years uninterrupted residency here is important. Though there are some options to get permanent residency before the 10 year mark.
- Conveniences with public and private services. From online access to government services to better and simpler treatment with banks, utility companies and more. Having an ID card simplifies your admin in many ways.
- Showing Georgia is your legal home. If you are from a country like the USA, Australia, South Africa or anywhere that does not have a double taxation agreement with Georgia, then both legal residence and tax residency are essential factors which can be used to show Georgia is your home, and reduce or eliminate taxes from those countries.
- Essential for some services. For example, if you wanted to apply for a visa from the UK visa centre in Georgia, you must be a resident or citizen of Georgia. Otherwise you would have to return to your home country to apply for such a visa. Some other limited benefits in terms of travel to other countries may exist but you’d need to check with the country you wanted to travel to.
- Unexpected Benefits. In an unpredictable world, we discovered in 2021 that the only way to get vaccinated against COVID in many countries was to be a resident. Only limited countries offered vaccination to tourists. Residents were able to get vaccinated from the very first rollout of vaccine, tourists still are not (at time of writing, May 22nd 2021).
Major Changes To Residency Application Eligibility
These changes came into effect on May 12th 2021.
The below is a brief summary of the most relevant changes. There are additional nuances and points that may not be listed here. We can discuss your unique situation during your initial free consultation.
- Those in Georgia on a C-1 visa (tourism) cannot apply for residency while present on that visa. NOTE: The C-1 visa is a visa you apply for, if you do not already have the right to enter Georgia visa free. If you are from one of the 95+ countries on the visa free list, this new rule does not apply to you.
- Those arriving to Georgia on the basis of holding a visa or residence permit in an approved country, as per ordinance 256 , will not be eligible to apply for a residence permit.
- You cannot apply for residency while on an emergency visa extension. If your passport stamp or visa has expired, getting an emergency extension (to have more than 40 days of legal stay validity), to then be able to apply for residency, is no longer possible.
- The definition of “family member” has changed. For the most part, adult children or parents of the principal (sponsor) are no longer considered “family” under the new legal definition. This applies to family reunification and investment (300k USD) permits. The 100k USD residency by property ownership has a different clause that does not limit the age of the child who can be sponsored. We are not yet sure if this is an oversight on the part of the SDA, or intentional.
- The D-5 visa (which used to allow those who could not enter visa free, to arrive to Georgia if a family member owned property with a value exceeding 100k USD) is also now limited to the children and spouse of the property owner. Those arriving on a D-5 visa can apply for residency, but must have at least 40 days validity on their visa when doing so.
- First application of a residence permit is now limited to a maximum of 6 to 12 months validity before renewal is required, aside from in some very exceptional cases.
What changes have been made regarding permanent residency?
For temporary residence permits which previously allowed for the application of permanent residence after 6 years as a resident in Georgia, the time limit is now 10 years before such an application to be made.
Can I renew my current residence permit even if I do not qualify under the new rules?
No. Though your current residence permit will not be revoked, once it expires it can only be renewed if you qualify under the new rules. For this reason, for example, parents or adult children of a sponsor who are currently residents due to sponsorship by that person, through family reunification, for example, would not be eligible to renew their residence permit.
When should you apply for the residence permit in Georgia?
A foreigner is obliged to apply to the Agency with a request for a residence permit 40 calendar days before the expiration of his / her legal stay on the territory of Georgia.
What constitutes sufficient funds for a work residence permit application?
Firstly, one option is that your employment contract shows the wages you will be paid. Wages should be at least 5 x Georgian subsistence income per month. As of December 14th 2020, this amount is 187.5 x 5 = 937 GEL per month. This changes periodically, so always check the current figure before applying.
If you are not receiving guaranteed wages, you must provide a bank statement from your Georgian bank account showing funds equal to 1,028 GEL per month for each month of the desired duration of the residence permit. We recommend having enough to cover a full 12 months, which would be >12,336 GEL. But more than the minimum is always better.
The decision on sufficient funds can sometimes be at the discretion of the clerk assessing your application, so having more than the minimum amount is always better.
For students and family reunification, the sufficient funds requirement is lower than the work permit. As listed in the relevant sections above.
Where do I apply? Where do I submit documents? Can it be online?
We can help make all the applications for you and help you get all your documents in order. See our residency application service.
If you’d like to DIY the process:
All new (first time) applications should be done within Georgia. You should submit documents and make your application at your local public service hall.
If, and only if, you are renewing an active residency permit, you can do so from abroad, online.
- Contact the immigration agent via skype with the handle “sda.gov.ge” and arrange to speak to them in person and to fill in the online application. They may record the interview.
- Fill out an online application,
- Upload the required documents electronically – as listed above depending on the type of permit you are applying for.
- Within 10 days of making the application, notarised and translated (to Georgian) copies of the documents must be delivered to the immigration office 67 A. Tsereteli Avenue, 0154, Tbilisi, Georgia (please double check the address with the agent you speak to on skype in case they need documents sent to a different address)
How long will your residence permit be valid?
A temporary residence permit is first issued for a period of not less than 6 months and not more than 1 year. It may be extended for an additional period of up to 5 years, provided that the total period of issuance of a temporary residence permit in Georgia should not exceed 12 years;
How long does it take to get the residence permit?
A residence permit is issued by the Public Service development agency within 30 days after receiving a complete set of required documents. However, the permits can be issued in an accelerated manner in as little as 10 business days – plus preparation time.
What if your residency application is rejected?
A foreigner who has been rejected and not granted a residence permit in Georgia has the right to reapply on the same grounds at least one month after the decision to reject the first application has been made.
How and when should you get a residence card?
Within 30 days after receiving a residence permit in Georgia, a foreigner should apply for a residence card at any territorial office of the Public Service development agency, branch of the Public Service Hall, or Community Centre. The residence card is an identity document certifying an identity of a foreigner living in Georgia, their citizenship and their place of residence in Georgia.
How do I get residency if I have less than 40 days validity on my passport stamp?
Since the changes on May 12th 2021, it is very difficult to get any residency permit if you have less than 40 days validity. It is only possible in some very exceptional circumstances. If you think you are an exceptional case, we can talk through your chances.
Have questions? Contact Us.
Need help with your residency application, See our residency application service.
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NOTE: This was recorded in December 2020. Information about the “Emergency Visa Extension” and “1st July 2021 Extension” are now OUT OF DATE. Most other information is still relevant, but please cross check the information in this video against the changes brought into law on May 12th to make sure you are following the latest information. Even so, we cannot guarantee that new changes will all be listed on this webpage.
For best results and latest information ALWAYS contact a professional adviser.
We explain all the above options from this article in greater detail, including clarification on some key points that those trying to apply for residency often get wrong. You’ll learn:
- Details on the most important elements of the 4 main types of residency application
- Tips for a successful residency application
- 6 unique residency “hacks” if the standard methods will not easily work for you
- Common questions answered.
Disclaimer: This webinar was recorded shortly after the new legislation was released on Dec 16th 2020. Some items discussed relating to that (the July 1st extension) may no longer be relevant in the future, but are still relevant as of December.