Immigration to Latvia
Introducing the Republic of Latvia: Latvia can be described as a small, peaceful Baltic State with beautiful landscapes, located between Lithuania and Estonia, on the shore of the Baltic Sea. According to statistics, the populaton of Latvia is currently estimated to be around 2 million people. The biggest ethnic groups is Latvian (62%) and Russian (~27%). The official language is latvian, however, the majority of the population also speak Russian and English.
Latvian nominal GDP per capita is estimated to be around 13 899 USD. In the year 2008 the Latvian economy suffered an economic crisis, however, now it has fully recovered. On the 1st January 2014 Latvia enters the Eurozone, meaning that the Euro will be introduced as the new national currency. Latvia is also a member state of the European Union and Schenggen area, which provides many benefits for its residents.
The population of Latvia drammatically decreased during the period 2008 – 2010. During this period almost 200 000 people left Latvia in search of a better job or education. However, annually Latvia hosts several thousand immigrants. Immigration to Latvia is developing drammatically, with almost 3000 residence permits being requested, based on investment, in the last year alone. The Immigration Law of Latvia provides several options for those, who want to immigrate to Latvia. Many students are moving to Latvia in order to get a European education and discover new possibilities for living and travelling in Europe.
Immigration services in Latvia are very well developed. Immigration to Latvia is a good option, if you wish to live, work and study and travel in Europe.
There are many options provided by Latvian Imigration Law in order to acquire a residence permit and move to Latvia, however, according to statistics, the most popular options are ivestment in a Latvian company, bank or real estate. If you want to know more about acquisition of residence permit in Latvia, you can read here: http://www.immigration-residency.eu/residence-permit-latvia/.
There are several major pull factors for lawful immigration to Latvia. First, prices in Latvia are comparatively small. Second, there are many options that can be used to acquire a residence permit. Third, Latvia is a part of the Schengen area and the European Union.
In order to visit Latvia, an immigrant needs to follow all the requirements set out by Latvian immigration law. There are several possibilities, depending on the purpose of your visit. You may need a work permit, visa or Schengen visa in order to visit Latvia. If you want to reside here – you need to acquire a residence permit. The grounds for issuing one of these documents are laid out in Immigration Law.
The Latvian immigration Law is the main legal regulation for immigration to Latvia. It was drafted in year 2003 and since then it was drammatically modified.
Immigration law - likumi.lv/doc.php?id=68522 (Latvian language)
The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs - www.pmlp.gov.lv
Immigration Law distinguishes two main groups of immigrants: those, who are citizens of the European Union or European Economic Area and those, from third states, who are considered non-EU citizens. The Immigration Law provides two different regulations for each group of immigrants.
The first article of Immigration Law defines a Union Citizen as follows:
Union citizen – a foreigner who has the citizenship of any of the European Union Member States, Member State of the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation;
According to the Immigration statistics, provided by The State Land Service and The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, almost 3000 foreigners have requested a residence permit in Latvia based on investment, during the last year alone. According to the same statistics, only 2,5% of residence permit applications were denied.
More detailed information on migration in Latvia you can find here:
Most popular cities by population
The most popular city for immigrants is Riga. Since it is the biggest city in Latvia, it perfectly satisfies all needs of a modern person. The other two big cities by population are Liepaja, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, and Daugavpils, in the heart of Latgale.
Statistics show that the Riga real estate market makes up about half of the entire Latvian real estate market. The amount of sales of real estate in Riga is double that of all other parts of Latvia combined, which not only makes Riga real estate a valuable investment, but Riga itself – the most popular city in the country.
Tourists mostly visit Riga with its fine architecture, museums, theatres and bars. However, such cities as Jurmala and Ventspils are also quite popular among tourists. Both of these are located by the Baltic Sea.
Services for Immigrants - Embassies in Latvia
Below is a list of foreign embassies in Latvia:
- Embassy of the Republic of Austria
- Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
- Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium
- Embassy of the Republic of China
- Embassy of the Czech Republic
- Embassy of the Kingdom of Denmark
- Embassy of the Republic of Finland
- Embassy of the France Republic
- Embassy of the Georgia
- Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Embassy of the Hellenic Republic (Greece)
- Embassy of the Ireland
- Embassy of the State of Israel
- Embassy of the Italian Republic
- Embassy of the Republic of Moldova
- Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway
- Embassy of the Russian Federation
- Embassy of the Slovak Republic
- Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain
- Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden
- Embassy of the Swiss Confederation
- Embassy of the Ukraine
- Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Migration in and out of the Schengen area
Latvia is a member state of the Schengen area. Countries of the Schengen Agreement have abolished passport and immigration control at their common borders and for travel between their member states. Member countries also recognize Schengen visas issued by other Schengen states. On the outer border, or upon first entry to the Schengen area, normal immigration control procedures apply, however admission to any Schengen country is considered admission to the whole Schengen area (all member countries), with no further immigration checks needed.
Third-country citizens holding unified Schengen visas may stay in any Schengen member state for 90 days. If you want to stay for a longer period of time – you need either a long term visa or a residence permit. Due to the strict immigration policies (due to a large amount of illegal immigrants), sometimes it may be quite hard to acquire a Schengen visa. Nevertheless, if you have positive visa history and enough funds to stay – then the process can be quite simple and painless.
There are three popular ways to obtain a residence permit (for 5 years with an opportunity of extension) in Latvia: investment in a Latvian company, bank or real estate. A Residence permit for education is also an option, but it is much harder to acquire and it can not be extended to a permanent residence permit later.
A Residence permit in Latvia provides following privileges for its holder:
- You may invite your relatives;
- Automatic provision of residence permit for your spouse and underage children;
- Opportunity to get a European education;
- Opportunity to extend your business to the European market;
- Opportunity to travel in Europe without border controls;
- Social privileges in Latvia.
If you want to know more about the residence permit in Latvia, you can read more about it here: Acquire residence permit in Latvia.
Immigration history in Latvia is not great, which is seen by the small ethnic diversity in Latvia. The second largest ethnic goup after latvian (62%) – is Russian (27%). The majority of Latvia's Russian population immigrated to Latvia from Russia during the period of the Soviet Occupation (1945 – 1991). Since Latvia has entered the European Union in year 2004 and opened its borders due to the Schengen agreement, many locals have left Latvia pursuing opportunities in other EU states – primarily during the crisis 2008-2010. Currently, Latvia offers residency for foreign investors, who are non-EU citizens. During the last year almost 3000 foreign investors have requested a residence permit in Latvia.