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Latvia: Immigration law amendments
26th May 2014
Latvian parliament adopted amendments to the Immigration Law in Latvia on May 8th, 2014. The amendments will come into force on September 1, 2014. Changes refer to the minimum thresholds of the property that qualifies for temporary residence permit.

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Residence permit in Latvia

On 1 July 2010, the amendments to the Immigration Law of the Republic of Latvia came into force expanding the possibilities to obtain a residence permit in Latvia for foreigners who want to stay and move freely within the Schengen area.

The uniqueness of these amendments lies in the fact that a new method for obtaining a residence permit was introduced - investing in real estate. It has attracted a large number of investors, because a foreigner investing in real estate (that can be used for profit) has the possibility to move freely within the Schengen area under the condition that he or she has a passport and sufficient financial means. Citizens of the Russian Federation are especially interested in using this possibility, as Latvia is located in the vicinity and is a tourist destination due to its unique cultural monuments, well-known resorts and international festivals.

A residence permit is a document that gives a foreign citizen the right to temporarily (a temporary residence permit) or permanently (a permanent residence permit) stay in the Republic of Latvia.
A residence permit is needed if you want to stay in the Republic of Latvia or in Schengen area for more than 90 days in a six-month period. Temporary residence permit is issued in form of a separate document similar to national ID card.

A temporary residence permit gives a foreigner the right:

  1. to stay in the Republic of Latvia for a period of time not exceeding five years;
  2. to freely cross borders of EU Member States and non-EU countries;
  3. to move and stay up to 90 days within the territory of other EU countries except for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania;
  4. to obtain a Latvian or EU permanent residence permit after five years;
  5. to obtain temporary residence permits for the spouse and children.

A temporary residence permit may be obtained by:

  1. investing in real estate after 1 July 2010;
  2. investing in Latvian credit institutions;
  3. investing in the equity capital of an enterprise.

Conditions on investing in real estate:

  1. the total amount of transaction (involving one or several real estates) must be at least EUR 143,000 in large cities or at least EUR 72,000 in other places;
  2. only non-cash funds may be used for purchasing real estate;
  3. a foreigner does not have and has never had any debts of payments of real estate tax in Latvia;
  4. the transaction is concluded after 1 July 2010;
  5. a residence permit is issued after registering the ownership in the Land Register.

Conditions on investing in Latvian credit institutions:

  1. the amount of financial investments must be at least EUR 286,000;
  2. the term of transaction must be at least five years without the right to terminate it prior to the term of repayment of the deposit.

Conditions on investing in the equity capital of an enterprise:

  1. the amount of investment must be at least EUR 36,000;
  2. the amount of taxes payable for the next year must be at least EUR 28,600.

Duration of process

The time for obtaining a residence permit in Latvia includes the period necessary to review the submitted documents which is 5 to 30 days depending on the amount of fee paid. Additional time may be needed for sending documents by mail. If an additional verification by the foreigner is necessary or if a foreigner applies for residence permits for his or her spouse and minor children, the term can be extended for up to 90 days. A foreigner has to come to Latvia to obtain a residence permit no later than three months after being granted the permit.

Statistics

According to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), 2495 temporary residence permits were issued in 2010 indicating a high demand for this service. It is also worth mentioning that the amendments to the Immigration Law of 20 January 2011 simplified the bureaucratic component of services making them even more accessible.

WEB devoloper - Artis Zelmenis