Tbilisi celebrating visa-free travel to EU
Tbilisi is holding festivities on March 26-27 to mark the start of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to EU countries. A variety of thematic decorations will be installed around the pedestrian area along the newly-repaired Agmashenebeli Avenue, and food stalls will be set up there as chefs from the Georgian Culinary Academy will treat promenading holidaymakers to traditional Georgian and European cuisine, Tbilisi City Hall informs.
Starting from 12:00 on March 26, Georgian DJs will perform non-stop throughout the day. Two play areas for children will be put up, and one of them is where older kids will receive tips on how to efficiently pack a travel bag, as well as some relevant info on crossing the state border. The first festival day will end with a concert.
On March 27, Europe Square will be lit up with a spectacular illuminated display of Georgian and EU flags, and a grandiose concert will be held featuring popular Georgian singers and bands. The concert will start at 21:00.
Who can benefit from the visa waiver and how?
- Any Georgian citizen who holds a biometric passport is entitled to benefit from the visa exemption. They will be able 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. They will also be free to move from one Schengen country to another.
- Travellers who stay in the Schengen zone even a minute longer than the allowed 90 days will be deported to Georgia and put on a ‘black list’ with a five-year ban on visiting the zone.
- Apart from the biometric passport, a traveller from Georgia may, when crossing the border, also be asked to present travel insurance, proof of financial solvency, a return ticket and a hotel booking confirmation. Having the documents when crossing over into the Schengen zone is not a requirement, however border control agents still retain the right to ask to see them. The difference against the previous regulations is that no visits to consulates will now be necessary. Bank statements and pay slips from an employer and some other documents a person used to have to submit to a consulate to support their visa application have now been scrapped too. Instead, a valid credit card may have to be shown to border control services as proof of one’s financial eligibility.
- The visa waiver does not apply if a Georgia citizen travels to Europe to work or study for long periods of time. In such cases, a visit to a consulate and a clearance of relevant application procedures will be necessary.
What is the suspension mechanism?
Put simply, the suspension means not all bridges have been burnt for Europe and it can discontinue the visa-free regime for Georgians at any time once it finds they deserve it. So, this can happen if:
- there is an increase in the number of illegal immigrants from Georgia;
- the number of Georgians applying for refuge grows;
- the Georgian authorities don’t cooperate with the EU to bring illegal migrants back home;
- Georgian citizens create risk to public security and order in European countries they visit.