Latvia: Latvia allows temporary residence permits for investors – including Schengen visas. Recent amendments make these slightly more expensive.
Latvian law allows foreigners to obtain a temporary resident permit. Reasons include studies, being the spouse of someone residing in Latvia or the desire to stay in Latvia for medicinal or religious purposes. Apart from that, also investors may obtain temporary residence permits – granting advantageous visa-free travel within the Schengen zone.
The most important cases of residence permits through investment are investments in real estate, contributing financially to a Latvian credit institution, acquiring government bonds or investing in an existing or newly founded company.
In particular, investment in real estate is a secure and convenient means of obtaining a temporary resident permit because the real estate can also be used for economic purposes.
The purchase price of real estate must not be below EUR 250 000 and the cadastral value must not be below EUR 80 000 if located in the more popular surroundings of Riga. In other regions this could also be two items of real estate with a cadastral value of EUR 40 000 each. However, agricultural or forest land cannot be used. The funds must stem from the person applying for the residence permit. Moreover, they have to be transferred via a bank transaction. Finally, the seller needs to have a specific link to Latvia, i.e., be a Latvian citizen or hold a valid residence permit.
Investing in a company will now cost EUR 50 000 as well as a fee of EUR 10 000. Moreover, there are specific requirements in terms of number of employees, turnover and the amount of taxes paid. Now up to 10 foreigners may obtain a residence permit under this scheme, if each of them pays a fee of EUR 10 000 to the state budget.
Permits are usually granted for five years. After these five years it is possible to apply for a permanent residence permit. However, in this case the applicant needs some knowledge of the Latvian language. This is why non-EU foreigners often decide rather to prolong their temporary residence permit.
The Latvian parliament recently adopted an additional – and partly controversial – fee for prolongation to be paid for each foreigner in the amount of EUR 5 000.
The amendments entered into force from 1 July 2016 and also in general retroactively affect all holders of temporary residence permits that wish to prolong their permit.
Amendment to the Immigration Code of the Republic of Latvia No. OP 2016/123.2