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Latvian president: amendments to the system of temporary residence permits are contradictory

BC, Riga, 07.11.2013.Print version
The amendments to the Immigration Law that Latvian Saeima passed last week, in order to change the system of temporary residence permits for third-country citizens, are contradictory, President Andris Berzins said in an interview with Latvian State Radio today, informs LETA.

"This is the first time I see such contradictory and counter-pointed provisions in a law," said Berzins. He explained the contradiction lied in the fact that, on the one hand, the minimum value of a real estate purchase was being increased so a third-country citizen who buys the given property could apply for a temporary residence permit, while on the other hand, the law now also says that any person can buy a five-year residence permit for EUR 50,000. "This other provision completely nullifies the meaning of the first one," said the president, adding that he did not see how these two provisions could go together.


The community and businessmen are very active in commenting on the amendments to the Immigration Law. "Up to this day, active effort is under way at the Chancery [..] to compile and analyze these viewpoints, at least to some extent," said Berzins, adding that this job would probably continue until the end of the week.


Berzins did not say in the interview if he would promulgate the amendments.


This morning, Berzins had a meeting with Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts to discuss the said amendments.


Berzins said that all the opinions that support or oppose the amendments are still being analyzed, and that there were even more opinions than when the Citizenship Law was amended.


Berzins is to decide whether to promulgate the amendments by Sunday, November 10.

As reported, the amended law provides that a third-country citizen may apply for Latvia's temporary residence permit, valid for a period of up to five years, if he or she makes a payment of EUR 50,000 (LVL 35,140) into the state budget.


Also, third-country citizens who buy real estate worth over EUR 150,000 (LVL 105,000) in Latvia will be able to apply for temporary residence permits. The regulations on residence permits will apply to no more than 700 such deals annually, as well as to 100 purchases of properties worth more than EUR 0.5 million (LVL 351,000). If there are more than a hundred purchases of real estate worth more than EUR 0.5 million, the number of property purchases worth more than EUR 150,000 to which the regulations on residence permits apply will be reduced accordingly.


In 2015 and 2016, the quota will be reduced to 525 and 350 permits, respectively, and the additional 100 permits will be issued annually for investments of over EUR 0.5 million.


The government, following the justice, interior and economy ministries' proposals, could further reduce the quota. In 2017, the quota will be either the same as in 2016 or no temporary residence permits will be issued at all to third-country citizens who buy real estate in Latvia. The amendments are to come into force on January 1 next year.


Media have reported that Berzins could return the amendments to the parliament for a repeated review. Berzins has said that he considers the quotas on residence permits a short-sighted solution that is not in Latvia's interest.


Several ruling coalition members, however, told LETA that coalition partners' agreement on altering the residence permits system would not be changed even if the parliament was to review the amendments for a second time.

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