Integration of third country nationals in Latvia

In the European Union (EU) the term “third country” means all the countries, which are not EU Member States, states of the European Economic Area (including Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein), as well as Switzerland. 

A “third country” is a notion, which is also used in consular services – the procedure of issuing travel visas, in the cases, when a visa is necessary to enter the other (“second”) country, when you are not in your (“first”) country. This may happen, for instance, when Latvia has no such embassy or consulate. 

78,451 foreigners were registered in Latvia as at 1 January 2017, of which 26,262 have been issued a temporary residence permits (hereinafter – TRP) and 52,189 have been issued a permanent residence permits (hereinafter – PRP), which is approximately 3,7% of the population of Latvia. Statistics indicate a general increase in immigration – for comparison, in 2005 only 7 429 foreigners with TRP and only 26 976 foreigners with PRP resided in Latvia, however, 10 years later – in 2015 – 23 674 foreigners with TRP and 46 669 foreigners with PRP resided in Latvia. Immigration trends show a gradual increase in the number of immigrants in Latvia. On the average the total number of foreigners residing in Latvia each year exceeds 70 thousand.

518 persons from 16 countries were issued PRP for the first time and 2491 persons from 60 countries were issued TRP for the first time in the first half of 2017.

Research indicates that around three thirds of immigrants know Russian, less than a half – English, and only one in seven knows Latvian.

Grounds, on which third country citizens acquire Latvian residence permits change over time. In 2005 the main reason for immigration (over 40% of the issued temporary residence permits) was family reunification, in 2009 - employment (over 45% of temporary residence permits), but in 2013 the majority of temporary residence permits were issued based on investment in real estate. In 2016 residence permits were issued based on 3 main reasons – 29% to investors in real estate, employees – 22%, students – 15%.

When a person with a family acquires a TRP his or her family comes to Latvia too, for example, from 01.01.2017. to 01.07.2017. 2491 person acquired TRP with the specific aim to reside in Latvia and 438 family members acquired TRP as family members.

With support of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, the Ministry of Culture coordinates the implementation of activities for integration of third-country national according to the task set in the plan of Guidelines of National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy “To establish a national level coordinating system for support of immigrant participation”.

In order to ensure availability of consultations and information about Latvia, the Society “Shelter “Safe House”” is implementing a one one-stop agency - Information Centre for Newcomers.

Documents of European Union:

The Treaty of Lisbon (entered into force on 1 December 2009) envisages the establishing and delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens. It sets out that the EU implements a common immigration policy, the purpose of which is to ensure efficient management of the migration flow, fair attitude to third-country nationals, who are legally residing in Member States, at all stages. In accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon, an integration policy is a matter for the Member States. Basic principles of the process of integration of third-country nationals agreed by EU Member States.

The Directive on the right to family reunification (in English) includes provisions emphasising the importance of a family for a successful process of integration of third-country nationals into local society.

The Stockholm Programme (in English), which emphasises the need for integration of third-country nationals legitimately residing in the EU receiving societies to ensure open and safe Europe.

European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (in English), the main element of which is integration through participation in activities of different receiving societies and cooperation of different levels of state administration in this area.

The Action Plan for integration of third-country nationals lists actions to be taken by governments of EU Member States, the European Commission, civil society and other stakeholders to promote integration of third-country nationals legitimately residing in the EU.

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