IDFI: Russians Dominant Group Receiving Georgian Citizenship

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) published a study on 1 September regarding applications for Georgian citizenship from 2018-2022 which found that 72% of those who received citizenship in that period were Russian citizens.

In the first 7 months of 2022, Georgian citizenship was granted to 723 Russians. Meanwhile, in 2021, a total of 1,342 Russians were granted citizenship, while in 2020 it was 629 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 1,219 in 2019.

Rules for Granting Citizenship

Ordinary Rule: a person will be granted citizenship of Georgia according to the ordinary rule if he has lived continuously in the country for 10 years, knows the state language, the history, the basic foundations of law, works in Georgia, and/or owns real estate in the country or carries out other entrepreneurial activities here.

Simplified Rule: Per the simplified rule, a person married to a citizen of Georgia, who has lived here for 5 years, knows the state language, the history of Georgia, and the basic foundations of law, will be granted citizenship.

Exceptional Rule: A person is granted citizenship under this rule if they have special merit before Georgia or if granting them citizenship is based on state interests. Various circumstances are taken into account to assess state interests including if the person considers Georgia as their homeland and their ancestor is a person living in the occupied regions or a displaced person. It can also apply to a person who emigrated due to political persecution or economic situation, as well as someone who made an investment in Georgia that significantly contributed to the economy. A successful person in the field of sports, science, and/or art, who wants to work on behalf of Georgia can also fall into this category. 

Special Rule: A person born on the territory of Georgia who was not determined to be a citizen of Georgia.

Method of Restoration: Citizenship will be restored in cases where the termination of one’s citizenship was considered unjust or in cases where citizenship was abandoned as a result of a parent’s choice and in connection with acquiring the citizenship of another country.

IDFI reported that in total between 2018-2022, the Public Service Development Agency (PSDA) submitted 13,644 positive conclusions and 7,360 negative conclusions to the Presidential Administration for consideration. 

The Georgian President granted citizenship to 13,575 persons, of which 5,111 persons had their citizenship restored and 8,382 were granted citizenship according to the exceptional rule. An additional 38 persons were granted citizenship according to the ordinary rule, 29 persons per the simplified rule, and 15 persons according to the special rule.

Besides the 6,075 Russians who were granted citizenship between 2018-2022, the next highest number was granted to citizens of Ukraine – 428, Armenians – 404, and Americans – 330.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 551 Russians and 8 Ukrainians were granted Georgian citizenship per the exceptional rule.

The study emphasized that “the desire of Russian citizens to obtain Georgian citizenship is expected to increase, even more, taking into account the situation created after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 (expected long-term sanctions, persecution of people with different views, etc.).”

IDFI did note that it is impossible to assess the full impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the increased number of Russians seeking Georgian citizenship “only on the actual indicators of Georgian citizenship granted to them in the short term.”

They emphasized that this would require a more full-fledged evaluation including data on residence permits granted in Georgia, statistics of marriages within Georgia, and others.

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