According to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, Tamar Khulordava, around 11,700 Georgian citizens have used the visa-free travel to the Schengen zone in the first month after the visa free regime went into force on March 28th. Only 26 people were sent back from the Schengen border.
With the visa free regime for the Schengen area, citizens of Georgia are able to enter the Schengen zone for 90 days in a 180-day period. The visa-free regime does not apply to visits for the purpose of work or study.
“Although there were fears there would be many people sent back to Georgia, these fears were not justified, as from 11,700 citizens, only 26 people were sent back from the border. Moreover, those cases were related to objective circumstances such as where there was not sufficient documentation,” Khulordava stated. She said that one month of data can be considered sufficient.
Khulordava says it is unclear whether the Georgian citizens who entered the Schengen zone visa-free will legally fulfil the terms of the visa regime. Georgian citizens are allowed to stay in the Schengen zone for a maximum of three months, but the new regime has only been in force for one.
At a plenary session on February 2nd, members of the European Parliament decided to grant Georgians visa free travel to the Schengen zone, with 553 votes in favour, 66 against, and 28 abstentions.
EU-Georgia relations have strengthened in recent years. An EU-Georgia Association Agreement was initiated at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on November 29, 2013, and the Association Agreement between Georgian and the European Union was signed on June 27, 2014.