Georgia’s investment immigration program is facing a crisis of credibility despite generating key foreign investment in the small Caucasus nation.
Rumors of candidates being rejected on political and religious grounds have clouded the reputation of a program that has operated successfully for three years. Applicants have also found themselves deemed a security threat as a reason for rejection.
The program has become increasingly popular with citizens of Middle Eastern countries looking for a cheaper and geographically accessible back-up option for residency.
Stakeholders suggest Western candidates are now far more likely to be accepted into the Georgia investment immigration program.
Once an application is rejected, there is no legal recourse as the government has deemed the information confidential.
There are also rumors of corruption within the government, with come candidates saying they have been granted residency without investing the required amounts.
Apart from short-term visas for those seeking to work or study in the country, Georgia offers two types of investment immigration programs with different investment requirements and for varying durations.
Residence by Investment Programs
The first is a renewable residency permit that allows a foreigner investing at least US $35,000 in real estate or a business to reside in the country for a period of up to five years. This permit can be renewed provided the minimum investment requirements continue to be met.
The other, more conventional, investment immigration program is the golden visa that offers permanent residence to those investing US $125,000 to purchase property, buy a business, or set up a company in Georgia. This is a residence-by -nvestment program similar to those offered by Portugal and Spain.
The golden visa program was introduced in 2014 and, until the beginning of 2018, the government had received 575 applications out of which permanent residence was granted to 466 applicants, while 109 applications were rejected.
The number of rejected applications has been steadily rising over the past three years – from eight in 2014 to 13, 36, and 52 in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.
The three nations with the highest number of successful applicants are Iraq (90 applicants), Egypt (87 applicants) and Iran (67 applicants).
The advantages of the program include processing and approval of applications in just one month and the ability to apply for citizenship in due course provided certain conditions are met.
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