Thanks to amendments to the Immigration Law adopted in July 2010, in exchange for property investments, foreign buyers may obtain a temporary residence permit and a Schengen visa for 5 years, which gives them the right to travel freely throughout the European Union and Schengen area countries, as well as being able to stay in the country for an indefinite period of time.
In less than 5 years, in exchange for investments, 13,518 foreigners (including investors and their family members) have obtained Latvian residence permits, of which 83% were from purchasing real estate. According to the statistical data, the amount of invested funds has exceeded 1 billion euros, of which: 83% of the funds were investments in real estate, 12% were investments in banks, and 5% were investments in Latvian companies.
NOTES ON OBTAINING A TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT
- The law only applies to purchases of real estate completed after 1 July 2010.
- On 1 September 2014, amendments to the Immigration Law were enacted, concerning an increase of the amount of real estate necessary to obtain a residence permit.
- A residence permit for up to 5 years may be requested by persons investing at least 250,000 euros in one real estate property in Rīga, Jūrmala, the Rīga Region or provincial cities, as well as throughout the territory of Latvia – the cadastral value of such properties must be at least 80,000 euros, or, if lower, a property valuation is necessary to confirm compliance of the transaction amount with the market value.
- A proposal was approved to pay 5% of the transaction amount, when first requesting a residence permit, to the Latvian national budget starting on 1 September 2014.
- The real estate may not be composed of agricultural land or forest, and must be a developed property. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that foundation or non-commissioned buildings are considered as a development; however, such a building must be registered in the Land Register.
- There must be no real estate tax debts.
- The total transaction amount must be paid via a bank transfer payment.
- The property must be purchased from a legal (taxpayer’s) entity – registered in the Republic of Latvia, a European Union member state, a European Economic Community member state or a Swiss Confederation, according to the procedure established by the tax legislation of the Republic of Latvia; or from an individual who is a citizen of Latvia, or a non-citizen of Latvia but a citizen of the European Union, or a foreigner residing in Latvia on the basis of a residence permit.
- Together with a foreign national, applications for a residence permit may also be submitted by:
1. the foreign national’s spouse;
2. their underage (in their custody) children;
3. persons under their guardianship.
- A Latvian residence permit is issued with a right of renewal.
- For individuals obtaining a Latvian temporary residence permit, the minimum annual period of residing inLatviais not specified by law.
- The Latvian residence permit entitles an individual to travel throughout the Schengen area.
- The residence permit entitles an individual to work inLatvia.
- After the expiry of a Latvian temporary residence permit, the property owner and their family are entitled to apply for a permanent residence permit.
- After the property owner obtains a permanent residence permit, his relatives to the third generation may also apply for a Latvian temporary residence permit, for up to 6 months per calendar year.
Since Latvia is a European Union member state and is party to the Schengen agreement, property owners, investors performing commercial activities in Latvia, businessmen and their employees, as well as their family members, are able to obtain a long-term Schengen visa for up to 5 years.
For foreign investors (both those performing commercial activities and those investing in real estate) this is a very big advantage, since, thanks to the new law, they may freely travel throughout Europe for 5 years.
Documents necessary for obtaining a temporary residence permit for up to 5 years:
To obtain a temporary residence permit, you must produce a valid travel document recognised by the Republic of Latvia – (i.e., a passport valid for a further 1.3 years from the date of receiving the insert), as well as the following documents:
- a standard residence permit application form;
- a photo;
- a criminal record report issued by the competent authority of the country of nationality or residence (for foreign citizens over 14 years old) if the foreigner has resided there for more than 12 months – the report must be legalised in the Republic of Latvia;
- a document confirming the provision of the necessary subsistence level in Latvia for 1 year (i.e. a bank statement), amounting to: principal applicant (investor) – 1,080 euros/month, spouse – 360 euros/month, and underage children – 216 euros/month (each);
- a document confirming the planned place of residence in the Republic of Latvia;
- a document confirming the real estate purchase payment made in the form of a bank transfer;
- a document stating the compliance of the property market value with the requirements of Section 23, Part One, Clause 29 of the Immigration Law, if the cadastral value of the purchased real estate does not match the value specified by Section. 23, Part One, Clause 29.d of the Immigration Law;
- a document confirming that the foreigner has no real estate tax debts, if the property has been in their ownership for more than one year;
- a payment document confirming the payment of the state duty.
When obtaining a temporary residence permit, a foreign citizen must produce:
- a health insurance policy valid for one year;
- a certificate indicating the absence of tuberculosis in an active phase, issued by a Latvian Health Care Institution.
If the documents were submitted outside of Latvia:
- after making the decision, the foreign citizen will be issued with a long-term visa, and after arriving in Latvia they must apply to the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Affairs in order to obtain a temporary residence permit.
A decision to issue a temporary residence permit is valid for three months. If a foreign citizen has not received a decision within this term, the whole procedure must be repeated.
The temporary residence permit insert will be issued for one year, and 30 days before its expiry a foreign citizen must submit the following documents for re-registration of the residence permit:
- a health insurance policy valid for the next year;
- a local government certificate for the payment of real estate tax;
- a document confirming the payment of the state duty.
Foreign citizens should submit documents to apply for a residence permit to:
1) The Office of Citizenship and Immigration Affairs in Latvia, if:
• they are citizens of a country having a visa-free regime with the Republic of Latvia;
• they already reside in Latvia, or in another country which is party to the Schengen Agreement, with a valid residence permit which will expire after more than 30 days.
2) In other cases, to the diplomatic or consular mission of the Republic of Latvia outside of the Schengen Territory.