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Anna Davidson, Founder and Managing Partner of JUST Advisors
June 6, 2022

How can an entrepreneur acquire a business residence permit in Georgia?

Establishing a business in Georgia constitutes one of the criteria for acquiring a residence permit. Upon satisfying the requisite conditions and receiving a favorable assessment of submitted documents, you will be issued a foreigner’s identity card, incorporating a residence permit ('residence' in Georgian). Possession of a residence permit affords a more comfortable living status within the country compared to residing without one.

By obtaining a residence permit in Georgia, individuals can avail themselves of various advantages. These include the ability to establish a registration address, remotely issue power of attorney, access online and discounted state services (such as applying for trademark registration), and benefit from services offered by Georgian companies (notably, some pharmacies restrict the issuance of discount cards to those with a residence permit). Furthermore, having a residence permit facilitates the opening of bank accounts and enables the submission of applications for a Schengen visa within Georgia.
According to Geostat data, a total of 74,008 immigrants entered Georgia in 2021. On an annual basis, an average of 18,000 individuals apply for a residence permit on various grounds, with approximately 10% facing rejection. Over the past year, JUST Advisors' legal team provided guidance to 50 applicants seeking residence permits, with 35 of them applying as entrepreneurs.

Who is eligible to obtain a business residence permit in Georgia?

Once the income derived from entrepreneurial activities in Georgia reaches 50,000 GEL, individual entrepreneurs become eligible to apply for business residency. This threshold must be achieved within the preceding 12 months, distinct from the calendar year. In the event that the turnover (income from selling goods, providing services, or performing works) attains the specified amount within a shorter period, such as four months, there is no requirement to delay; applicants can promptly submit their residence permit applications. Income verification is substantiated through a bank statement or documents issued by the Revenue Service.

In the event that an individual entrepreneur engages foreign employees, a turnover of 50,000 GEL must be achieved for each employed foreign citizen, including the entrepreneur. Under these circumstances, both the entrepreneur and the employed foreign individuals are eligible to apply for a residence permit. This basis for residency is established through employment in a Georgian company.

While the law does not specify a duration for earning income and staying in the country when applying for a residence permit, it is crucial for the legislator to verify the individual’s intention to reside permanently or regularly within the country.

The nuances in the consideration of applications

To obtain a residence permit, one must apply to the State Services Development Agency (hereinafter referred to as the 'agency') and submit the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Evidence of income, in the form of a bank statement or a certificate from the Revenue Service:
  • A statement extracted from a personal Georgian bank account verifying the presence of funds for living in Georgia (the specified amount may vary, but as of the publication date in December 2023, the minimum reference amount is 13,656 GEL).
  • Photo
  • A certificate indicating the count of employed foreigners
  • Evidence of payment for service fees

To expedite the application review process, an additional fee can be paid as follows: 30 days - 300 GEL, 20 days - 450 GEL, 10 days - 600 GEL.
Every case is unique, and at times, supplementary documents supporting the grounds of the application need to be appended alongside the standard document package. For instance, challenges may arise in substantiating the sources of income. In cases where the applicant utilizes platforms such as PayPal or other tax systems, income from these sources may not be reflected in the bank statement. Hence, to secure a residence permit, it becomes imperative to ensure their documentation.
The application for a residence permit with the agency is mandatory no later than 40 calendar days before the expiration of the legally permitted stay in Georgia. This rule applies similarly to the extension of the residence permit, with certain exceptions. Noteworthy nuances pertain to legal stay, encompassing periods without a visa, with a visa, or under residence. Specifically, if the residence permit period concludes before the visa-free stay period, the legal stay duration is governed by the visa-free regime.

What documents will you receive, and how is the residence permit extended?

Upon receiving a positive decision to grant temporary residence rights in Georgia, the applicant is required to submit an application to the agency for an identity card, also known as a residence card. The application should be accompanied by a registration permit at the address of the real estate owner in Georgia if the applicant does not own real estate. The residence card is issued within the tenth working day, incurring a cost of 60 GEL (with an option to expedite the process through an additional fee), marking the conclusion of the application process.

The initial residence permit is issued for a period of 6 months to 1 year, in the future, if there is a reason, it can be extended for a much longer period: in our practice, the maximum period is 11 years!

Unlike the initial application, during the extension process, the applicant is not required to be present in the territory of Georgia. They can submit the application remotely or appoint a representative through power of attorney.

What are the possible grounds for the refusal of a residence permit?

The reasons for denying the issuance of a residence permit are outlined in Article 18 of the Law of Georgia titled 'On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons.' Numerous grounds exist, with a commonly cited rationale being 'the existence of a conclusion from the authorized body that residing in Georgia is deemed inappropriate for safeguarding the interests of the state and/or public security.

The conclusion of the authorized body, specifically the security service, is classified as a 'secret' document. Even in the event of a judicial appeal against the denial of the residence permit, only the judge is granted the right to review the decision, with lawyers being denied access. To avoid hastening to a negative conclusion, thorough preparation, considering all potential nuances, is advisable.

The decision of the Agency to refuse a residence permit can be appealed in court within one month. The applicant may attempt to reapply for a residence permit, including on different grounds, but not earlier than one month from the date of the decision
In the context of obtaining a residence permit, it is crucial to possess a power of attorney, particularly if it has been issued abroad. It is not only essential to accurately and comprehensively establish the power of attorney; it must also be legally recognized in Georgia. This entails compliance with the existing regulations between the countries, including the necessity for an apostille or consular legalization.

Is it worth applying to lawyers or is it possible to do it independently?

While it is possible to apply for and obtain a residence permit independently, there may be gaps. To conserve resources, seeking assistance from lawyers with established expertise and a personalized approach is justified.
For instance, even the translation of a passport can turn into a challenging endeavor to preserve the accuracy of the owner’s name. Occasionally, mistakes can occur due to oversight by translators. In a specific case, we encountered an instance where the Italian name 'Riccardo' was translated as 'Risardo' in Georgian. Therefore, we meticulously review the Georgian translation, scrutinizing each letter for accuracy.
The immigration lawyers at JUST Advisors provide comprehensive guidance to their clients throughout the process of obtaining a residence permit. They analyze individual situations, offer advice on the required grounds and documentation, meticulously organize the submission 'case' for obtaining a residence permit within just three working days, and oversee the entire process from application submission to the acquisition of the residence certificate, inclusive of power of attorney services.
In summary, it would be inaccurate to characterize the process of obtaining residence on the basis of business as straightforward. The complexity of the process is heightened by meticulous document verification and specific preparation requirements, the oversight of which escalates the risk of rejection. Our extensive practice enables us to thoroughly examine and consider all pertinent details before document submission. Contact JUST Advisors, and we will ensure legal comfort throughout the entirety of the residency acceptance process.

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MARIA GUSEINOVA
Leading Manager of Commercial Department