55 000 Georgians traveled visa-free to Europe with 3 000 failing to return
As of 28 March (the day Georgia’s new visa-free travel regime to EU countries were introduced), 55 000 Georgians have traveled abroad, while 3 000 of these citizens haven’t returned back to Georgia.
“So far, there is no direct and clear-cut answer whether these citizens have violated their 90-day visa-free travel rule or not, as some of them could possibly have moved to countries which don’t have a visa-free regime with Georgia,” said Shalva Khutsishvili, the Deputy Minister of Interior of Georgia.
In his words, the Georgian Interior Ministry has already identified and is currently monitoring those individuals who failed to return to Georgia upon expiry of the 90-day term envisaged by the visa-free regime.
“Some of them might have moved to the Ukraine, others to Belarus or Turkey. We can’t say for sure that they have violated the 90-day visa-free regime, but we have put them on a potential risk group and we are monitoring them, i.e. which regions they traveled from, who they are, what ties they have, and what their potential interests are etc. There haven’t been any major risks yet, since the majority of those who leave the country usually return back. So far, there haven’t been any reports from the countries that Georgian citizens traveled to either,” Shalva Khutsishvili told the Interpressnews news agency.
The Deputy Interior Minister noted that the aforesaid data does not include those who have crossed into EU countries through land borders or traveled there from another country.
“For example, the data does not include individuals who, let say, traveled to Belarus, stayed there for a week and then moved to Lithuania,” Khutsishvili noted.
- Under the visa-free travel rules with the EU, which entered into force on 28 March this year, any Georgian citizen is entitled to enter the Schengen zone visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period (the exemption also extends to the four countries that are now seeking to join the zone – Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia). Find more details on visa-free travel rules for Georgian citizens here.