The surge in asylum applications from Georgia has raised fears that Ireland could lose visa-free travel status in Europe

The rising number of Georgians seeking asylum in Ireland has sparked fears that the latter could lose visa-free travel to most of the European Union if the country fails to get the asylum situation under control.

According to a report published by the Irish Times, the number of Georgians seeking international protection in the European Union this year could exceed pre-pandemic levels if authorities in Georgia tighten controls at the country’s airports and heed the pressure new laws are also being passed by EU member states to address the problem, reports

Over 1,100 Georgians have applied for asylum in Ireland this year, more than any other nationality except Ukraine.

In this regard, both officials and experts have stressed that poverty, not conflict or persecution, is one of the main reasons for migration among Georgians, who have been allowed to travel visa-free to the EU’s borderless Schengen area since 2017, where some are moving on to Ireland while Ireland is not part of the Schengen zone.

“From 2017 to 2020, we had a serious problem with Georgians migrating to the Schengen area under the visa-free regime, when they only went as tourists and asked for asylum immediately upon arrival,” said an EU official in the capital Georgia’s , Tbilisi pointed out in this regard, as reported by the Irish Times.

The same source stressed that the travel bans and other restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus and its new variants have led to a drop in the number of asylum applications; However, currently a large number of Georgians travel to the countries of the Schengen area and stay longer than the permitted 90 days.

In addition, according to official figures, a 69 percent increase in overstay stays has now been recorded compared to 2021 figures, which is once again becoming one of the main concerns in bilateral relations.

“This has been raised by the EU ambassadors here – that it needs a further push from the EU family here with the authorities – to ensure this is checked,” she stressed.

Ireland has no diplomatic mission in Tbilisi and issues tourist and other visas for Georgian citizens from its embassy, ​​1,800 km away across the Black Sea in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.