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On 1 October 2013, member of the Parliamentary Majority, Paata Kvizhinadze declared: “Any foreign citizen could work in our country without any restrictions or quotas. This practically never happens in Europe, the US or CIS countries.”

FactCheck

decided to check the truthfulness of the statement.

In order to better understand the labour market of Georgia and, particularly, in regard to foreign citizens, first of all, we took a look at Georgian legislation.

Article 31 of the Labour Code of Georgia (last accessed on 29 September 2013) defines the amount and form of labour remuneration for any individual, including foreign citizens. According to Paragraph 1 of the same Article, “the form of labour remuneration shall be defined based upon a labour contract. The norms of the present article shall be applied unless otherwise specified in the labour contract.” Relatively, the amount of remuneration is based upon the negotiation and agreement between the parties. The state does not interfere in the private relations between parties in terms of defining the remuneration amount.

At the same time, Paragraph 3 of Article 2 of the Labour Code of Georgia forbids any kind of discrimination in labour relations while Paragraph 4 of the same Article defines what can be considered as discrimination. In particular: “Direct or indirect oppression of a person[1]

that aims to or causes the creation of a frightening, hostile, disgraceful, dishonourable and insulting environment, is considered to be discrimination. Creation of conditions that directly or indirectly worsen a person’s condition in comparison to another person in the same conditions is also considered to be discrimination.”

Therefore, Georgian legislation forbids discrimination towards any individual regardless of citizenship. The Law of Georgia on the Legal Status of Foreigners (last accessed on 20 September 2013) regulates the legal grounds and mechanisms for foreigners entering and staying in the country (Article 2). The abovementioned law allows the citizens of a number of countries (a total of 118 countries at the moment) to enter and stay on the territory of Georgia for a period of 360 days (Article 5).

Georgia issues single or multiple entry visas of four categories for citizens of the states of the abovementioned list: diplomatic, service, ordinary and study (Article 6).

An alien entering the state for working purposes (if his/her home country does not have a visa-free regime with Georgia) needs an ordinary visa (Article 9, Paragraph 1, Sub-paragraph L). A foreigner working on Georgian territory should apply for a residence permit after his/her ordinary visa has expired (Article 9, Paragraph 11).

The ordinary visa is issued for 360 days with multiple entry permits or for 90 days with single or multiple entry permits.

The temporary residence permit of Georgia is issued by the State Service Development Agency to foreign citizens willing to stay within the country. Article 19 of the abovementioned law enlists the cases when a temporary residence permit can be issued. Paragraph A of Part 1 of this Article allows aliens to be engaged in a labour activity according to the established regulations of Georgia, including those engaged in a freelance job.

There are no restrictions for foreign citizens holding study visas to be employed at the same time. A foreigner can engage in labour activities without any obstacles and, in a number of cases, without a visa as well.

According to the representative of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Georgian legislation does not provide any separate labour permission to aliens; permission to stay within the state territory also encompasses permission to work. After the visa or permission to stay in the country has expired, an alien can apply for a temporary residence permit. In this case only the desire of a foreign citizen to acquire such permission and an application to the Service Development Agency is necessary.

It is also noteworthy that on 1 November 2013, a new draft bill was initiated by the Georgian Government which introduces an immigration visa (D1) issued in the following cases:

  • To individuals coming to Georgia for engaging in labour activities.
  • To representatives of companies, firms and consultants coming to Georgia to carry out their working obligations.
  • To media representatives coming to Georgia to carry out their working obligations.
  • To foreigners entering Georgian territory upon the basis of a service contract.

The explanatory notes to the draft bill indicate that “the reason for adopting the current draft bill is the fact that the citizens of 118 states can enter Georgia without a visa and stay within its territory for 360 days. Those who require a visa can obtain it at the state border in most cases. The state policy allows everyone except criminal suspects and terrorists to enter its territory. This kind of visa policy resulted in unregulated immigration processes. In order to regulate these processes, an updated visa policy is necessary, in the first place, as well as defining a responsible unit that will control the issue of the legal entry and the stay of foreigners within the territory of the state. Additionally, it is essential to establish an effective legislative basis to regulate the process of leaving the country by those individuals who are staying without any legal basis. The aim of the draft bill is to control the abovementioned issues and regulate the state immigration processes.”

It should be noted that a number of professions are “protected” by the Georgian legislation which means that only Georgian citizens can be employed in such positions. They are mainly connected with the state and public interests. These include, for example: attorney, prosecutor, notary, judge, etc.

International practice should be also paid attention to.

The European Union regulates employment spheres and prohibits discrimination in the field of employment and occupation. Discrimination based upon religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation is prohibited. This prohibition does not cover differences of treatment based upon nationality. The EU allows its member states to independently regulate the employment of the citizens of third countries (non EU-member state).

Germany

In Germany there are general provisions that regulate the working permission for foreign citizens; in particular:

  • A legislative provision grants access to the German labour market.
  • A specific job offer exists.
  • No preferential employees are available for the specific occupation and the working conditions are comparable to those of domestic employees.

Foreign nationals wishing to be employed in the Federal Republic of Germany require a permit from the competent authority. Nationals of the states that are not part of the European Union or the European Economic Area require a residence title for entry and residence in Germany. Admission to the German labour market is determined by the regulations of the German Residence Act as well as the German Regulation on the Employment of Foreigners that entered into force in 2013.

The approval for taking up employment is granted by the immigration office with the residence title if the German Federal Employment Agency has consented to the employment.

However, according to the German legislation, in many cases, the residence title for the purpose of employment can also be granted without the German Federal Employment Agency’s consent. This exception is made for highly qualified individuals representing concrete professions: managers, teachers, scientists, graduates of German universities and holders of the EU Blue Card. This kind of consent is not needed for temporary employment.

The consent from the German Federal Employment Agency is mandatory for foreign citizens in the case if they are graduates of a state university recognised by Germany, executives and specialists with company-specific specialist knowledge that are transferred or temporarily posted to Germany by a company established in Germany, etc.

Different rules apply to nationals of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. They can enter Germany without a visa and do not require a residence title. However, they are required to have an EU work permit in order to take up employment.

An individual having a student status may stay in Germany for a maximum of nine months. Foreign students are allowed to work for up to 90 days each year, or 180 half-days. However, they need to have very good language skills in German. Foreign students may work in Germany for up to one year after graduating; however the job must be related to their field of study.

Great Britain

The UK allows EU citizens, European and Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals to be employed in the UK without any particular permission.

Nevertheless, certain rules apply to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. They need a special work card in order to be employed although any particular requirements are not set for them by the legislation. All Bulgarian and Romanian nationals need a work card although there are some exceptions:

  • If an individual is working in the position not requiring such permission.
  • If an individual received a residence permit before 1 January 2007 and this document contains concrete information on the employment category.
  • If an individual belongs to a group that is free from this provision in accordance with the law, for example: he/she worked on British territory for 12 consecutive months, is a citizen of any member state of the European and Economic Area, his/her spouse is a British citizen.

As for non-EU or non-European and Economic Area nationals, they need a work permit for employment. Great Britain distinguishes several categories for such individuals.

A work permit is issued by the UK Border Agency. The following categories are distinguished: high-value migrants (investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented people), skilled workers (sportspersons, intra company transfers) and temporary workers.

High-value migrants need a work permit that is issued by the UK Border Agency based upon a test. The agency may also ask for a business plan or any other additional information. Based upon the submitted information and the test results, the candidates are evaluated with points. In the case if a candidate does not meet the UK Border Agency requirements, he/she will not be granted the work permit.

The same test is required for those comprising the group of skilled workers. However, together with the test they are also required to have an invitation from a prospective employer.

The classification of temporary workers is conducted in accordance with the profession and the position type. For example, a sportsperson temporarily visiting Great Britain should be internationally established at the highest level in the sport and his/her work experience should not exceed 12 months. A different rule applies to individuals visiting the UK for charity, religious or other purposes.

France

Similar to other EU-member states, France also does not require any special permission for EU nationals, excluding Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, in order to be employed in France.

A non-EU national is required to have a work permit. There are two types of work permit:

  • Temporary Secondment – this is for a non-French company which needs to place their employees on its client's site in France. A temporary secondment can be applied for by the foreign company but it needs the full co-operation of the French client. This permit is valid as long as a client service contract exists between the two companies involved. Additionally, the candidate must earn in excess of EUR 3,835 per month.
  • Full Work Permit – this is applied to individuals employed by an established French company. The candidate must be a full-time employee and paid in France; the monthly remuneration of the candidate should be in excess of EUR 3,835. Additionally, the candidate must be a professional and have high-level experience. Knowledge of the French language is also taken into consideration.

Individuals with student status can work for 946 hours in a year without any permission. In the case of exceeding the limit, he/she needs to acquire a work permit.

United States of America

In the case of the United States, any foreign citizen requires an employment authorisation in order to be granted permission to work.

The Employment Authorisation Document (EAD) is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The EAD is a plastic card valid for one year with a possibility of renewal. It is issued to foreigners of the following categories:  a refugee, an asylum seeker, a student (working in a specific position), the spouse of a US citizen, etc.

Furthermore, an alien can acquire a Green Card and be granted permission to work in the United States. In order to get a Green Card, an applicant should submit a filled-out form and a set of documents to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Legislation protects US citizens and holders of the EAD or the Green Card and prohibits any discrimination upon national or citizenship basis.

Russia

In order to work in Russia, an alien must have a working visa and a work permit. Additionally, a foreign citizen should be registered at the Immigration Agency.

Aliens who do not need a visa (except for Turkmenistan and Georgia) can work in Russia for 90 days without any work permit. In order to extend this period up to one year, they must apply for a work permit.

Moldova

In order to work in Moldova, an alien or an individual without citizenship should have a work permit issued by the National Employment Agency.

An alien does not need a work permit in case he/she:

  • Arrived to Moldova for scientific research in the context of European or/and international projects.
  • Is a holder of permanent rights of residence in Moldova.
  • Is a holder of the temporary rights of residence for the purpose of family reintegration.
  • Is invited for labour purposes by governmental agencies.
  • Professionals who came to Moldova upon the basis of international treaties.
  • Professionals participating in investment projects in Moldova (confirmed by the Ministry of Economy).

Conclusion

Our research has established that in Georgia certain professions have nationality restrictions due to national and public interests.

In order to bring in a verdict, we must also take international experience into consideration. Both strict and lenient, there are certain restrictions and limitations in Europe, the US and CIS countries for granting a work permit to foreign citizens.

There are, however, no such limitations in Georgia and any alien can start working in Georgia without any permission (only a temporary residence permit is necessary after the visa has expired). Compared to the current situation, the initiated draft bill regulates the immigration policy of the country.

Based upon the abovementioned, we conclude that the statement of Paata Kvizhinadze:  “Any foreign citizen could work in our country without any restrictions or quotas. This practically never happens in Europe, the US or CIS countries,” is TRUE.


[1]

 Author:  including foreign citizens or individuals without citizenship.


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