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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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News: National Action Plan is drafting of a new Latvian Immigration Law

The newspaper Diena reported that one of the priorities of internal affairs stipulated in the National Action Plan is drafting of a new Immigration Law in Latvia; accordingly the responsible officials are preparing to discuss some solutions in this field unprecedented in Latvia, including immigrant quotas and the so-called bonus point system.

As there is no sensible framework of legal immigration in Europe, the country itself must identify its own concept. That is why we must have a clear insight on how much and what kind of workforce we are ready to welcome to Latvia and on what terms we are going to do it, Maira Roze, the Deputy Head of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA), pointed out to the newspaper.

The newspaper points out that the existing immigration framework of Latvia is inconsistent. On one hand, Latvia is very open, and no immigration quotas are in place which means that everyone meeting the requirements of the law may enter our country – for all we know, even one thousand people from Georgia or one million people from China may come here. On the other hand, very high demands have been set for guest workers from the so-called third countries meaning that actually only several can enter the country; also, such guest workers must receive a salary no lower than the average salary in Latvia (at the moment LVL 461), and furthermore the law demands employers first to seek employees for the respective positions in Latvia at least for a month, before even starting to look for them in other countries.

As for the cheap workforce, there are places where the locals do not want to work for minimum salary; however, it is a highly political issue, because protests may be raised arguing that the level of unemployment in Latvia is high already and by easing the demands for guest workers the locals would lose their jobs, told Roze. One of the possible solutions would be to set quotas on how many low-skilled guest workers may enter the Latvia per year. Yet, before making such decision, a long-term forecast on the need for workforce would have to be developed by the Ministry of Economics.

The newspaper reports that changes can also be anticipated to the so-called trading with residence permits or to the procedure according to which third-country nationals may acquire temporary residence permits in exchange for investments in Latvia. Until now, nationals from Russia have been the most active in using this procedure, and despite its contradictory nature there are no intentions to revoke it for the time being – the OCMA evaluated that Latvia had already attracted more than LVL 173 million in investments thanks to this system.

However, the absolute majority of this sum has been invested in the real estate market of Riga and Jūrmala, and much less money is directed towards manufacturing businesses. Roze accented that such investments in Latvia should be viewed in the light of economic development; accordingly this procedure may be changed. I assume that politicians may find on their agendas also the issue of setting quotas on how many investors per year should be allowed to acquire residence permits by purchasing real estate, the representative of the OCMA explained.

Other novelty to be discussed is the bonus point system. For example, we may put in place the following demands: for possessing higher education a person receives 5 points, for knowledge of Latvian language – 20 points and for each child, who could be successfully integrated in the Latvian society – additional 5 points. Then, if the total score exceeds a present limit, which, for example, could be 35 points, this person may acquire a residence permit in Latvia, even if he or she is not an investor or a guest worker who has been invited to work in a certain position,.

If you requiring assistance relates with residency, immigration, business visas, please contact us for further information.

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