Law "On Seekers for Asylum and Refugees in the Republic of Latvia"



Chapter I
General Regulation

Article 1. Purpose of the Law


The Law according to generally recognized international principles of human rights establishes the procedures for implementation of human rights of asylum and acquiring the status of refugee as well as determines rights and obligations of the seeker for asylum and refugee.

Article 2. Persons who as the seekers for asylum may apply for status of refugee


(1) Persons who are not citizens of Latvia or subjects of the Law "On the Status of Former USSR Citizens who are not Citizens of Latvia or Any Other State" and who enter or stay in the territory of the Republic of Latvia owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion in the country of his/her nationality (citizenship) or if the mentioned persons not having a nationality (citizenship) - in the country of his/her former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.

(2) The person who has more than one nationality (citizenship) can not apply for the status of refugee as a seeker for asylum, if he/she without any valid reason based on well-founded fear mentioned in Part 1 of this Article not avails him/herself of the protection of one of the countries of which he/she is a national (citizen). Each of the countries of which he/she is a national (citizen) shall mean the country of his/her nationality (citizenship).

Article 3. Status of the seeker for asylum


The person shall be recognized as the seeker for asylum starting with the moment when he/she has submitted an application in writing on granting the status of refugee in the procedure established by this Law.

Article 4. The Center on Refugees Matters


(1) An application on granting the status of refugee shall be reviewed and the decision on granting or refusal to grant the status of refugee shall be passed by the Center on Refugees Matters (hereinafter - the Center). Decisions of the Center can be appealed only in cases and procedure anticipated by this Law.

(2) The Center as a structural unit of the Administration on Citizenship and Migration Matters of the Ministry of the Interior (hereinafter - the Administration), allocating the separate financing from the state budget, shall be established, its regulation approved and the head according to suggestion of the Head of the Administration appointed and dismissed by the Minister of the Interior.

Article 5. Council of Appeal on Refugees Matters


(1) Complaints against decisions of the Center shall be reviewed by the Council of Appeal on Refugees Matters (hereinafter - the Council). Decisions of the Council may be appealed only in cases anticipated in this Law.

(2) The Council shall include the Chairperson and the four Council members. The Cabinet of Ministers appoints and dismiss the Chairperson of the Council according to suggestion of the Minister of Justice and the members of the Council - according to suggestion of the Chairperson of the Council.

(3) The Council shall be a legal entity, it operates on the basis of regulation approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and shall be under supervision of the Ministry of Justice. The Chairperson of the Council and the members of the Council shall operate and pass decisions in the frame of their competence independently.

Article 6. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


(1) Persons who are submitted the application for granting the status of refugee shall be entitled to apply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or his/her authorized persons or institutions (hereinafter - the Commissioner). The contents of these applications shall be confidential.

(2) The Center and Council shall submit to the Commissioner their decisions and their substation according to relevant request of the Commissioner.

Article 7. Confidentiality of information


(1) Officials (employees) of institutions shall not be entitled to divulge any information about the seeker for asylum excluding cases mentioned in Part 2 of this Article. The guilty official (employee) shall be charged with liability for divulging of information in the procedure established by law.

(2) An information about the seeker for asylum can be divulged after receiving consent from relevant person, as well as in cases if the information has requested by law enforcement institutions in the procedure established by law.

Article 8. Identification of the seeker for asylum


The State Police shall carry out identification of the seeker for asylum in the procedure determined by the Minister of the Interior.

Article 9. Language for communication


The seekers for asylum who are unable to communicate in Latvian shall be ensured for rights to communicate through the interpreter, to be acquainted with materials of reviewing of application, as well as to give explanations in the language what the person knows.

Article 10. Rights and obligations of the seeker for asylum


(1) The seeker for asylum has rights to meet and communicate with the sworn advocate for receiving legal assistance.

(2) The seeker for asylum have rights to receive urgent medical aid for expense of the state.

(3) The seeker for asylum or his/her authorized agent is obliged to collaborate with the Center and other institutions mentioned in this Law by furnishing an information to them, what can influence the granting of status of refugee.

Article 11. Rights of the seeker's for asylum family members and the persons under age


(1) An application of the seeker for asylum for granting the status of refugee shall be reviewed and the decision on granting the status of refugee or refusal of granting such shall be applied also to family members of the seeker for asylum (the spouse and children under their support) independent of their residence if they will so.

(2) Rights and legal interests of the person under age shall be represented by their parents. If the person under age is not accompanied by parents and desires to submit an application on granting the status of refugee independently, his/her rights and legal interests during submission and reviewing of application shall be represented by independent authorized representative appointed by Council. The representative shall be obliged to operate impartially following the interests of the person under age.


Chapter II
Submission of Applications for Granting the Status of Refugee

Article 12. Submission of application for granting the status of refugee when the person arrives to the land border control point from abroad


(1) The person who, when crossing the state land border in the border control point, admits the Republic of Latvia to apply for asylum and acquire the status of refugee, shall be delivered to the nearest State Police precinct without delay where he/she shall submit an application on granting the status of refugee.

(2) The specially trained for this assignment State Police officials shall interview the seeker for asylum in the State Police precinct. Any seeker for asylum during the interview and initial reviewing of the application shall be maintained in the premises specially arranged for this purpose in the State Police precinct separately from the persons suspected for committing crimes.

(3) If the application after interview is recognized well-founded, the seeker for asylum shall be delivered to the nearest center for maintenance of seekers for asylum without delay.

Article 13. Submission of application for granting the status of refugee when the person arrives to the border control point in the airport or seaport


(1) The person who arrives at the state border control point in the airport or seaport shall submit an application for granting the status of refugee prior to admission to the Republic of Latvia. The application is accepted by the State Police official at the border control point.

(2) The specially trained for this assignment State Police officials shall interview the seeker for asylum in the border control point prior to admission of the seeker for asylum to the Republic of Latvia. Any seeker for asylum during the interview and initial reviewing of the application shall be maintained in the premises specially arranged for this purpose in the territory of airport or seaport.

(3) If the application after interview is recognized well-founded, the seeker for asylum shall be delivered to the nearest center for maintenance of seekers for asylum without delay.

Article 14. Submission of application for granting the status of refugee when the person is situated in the territory of the Republic of Latvia


(1) The person who is situated in the territory of the Republic of Latvia shall submit an application for granting the status of refugee to the State Police precinct or the Center.

(2) The specially trained for this assignment State Police officials shall interview the seeker for asylum in the State Police precinct. Any seeker for asylum during the interview and initial reviewing of the application shall be maintained in the premises specially arranged for this purpose in the State Police precinct separately from the persons suspected for committing crimes.

(3) If the application after interview is recognized well-founded, the seeker for asylum shall be delivered to the nearest center for maintenance of seekers for asylum without delay.


Chapter III
Reviewing of Aplication for Granting the Status of Refugee and Granting the Status of Refugee

Article 15. Center for maintenance of seekers for asylum


(1) While the application for granting the status of refugee is reviewed, the seekers for asylum shall be maintained in the centers for maintenance of seekers for asylum, where necessary conditions for the human every day life shall be provided. The seeker for asylum can be moved to other center for maintenance of seekers for asylum.

(2) The seeker for asylum who has resided legally in the Republic of Latvia at the moment of submission the application for granting the status of refugee is not placed in the center for maintenance of seekers for asylum if the grounds for his/her residence in the Republic of Latvia still remains in effect.

(3) Regulations for the center for maintenance of seekers for asylum are approved and such centers are established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Centers for maintenance of seekers for asylum are subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior.

Article 16. Identity papers of seekers for asylum and procedures for residence (stay) in the territory of the Republic of Latvia


Special identity papers shall be issued to seekers for asylum, the type of which and procedures for issuance are determined by the Cabinet of Ministers. The mentioned identity papers give the rights to stay in the center for maintenance of seekers for asylum and - according to single use permit of the administration of the center for maintenance of seekers for asylum, what shall be marked in the paper - in the administrative territory of the local government where the center is situated.

Article 17. Terms for reviewing of application for granting the status of refugee


(1) If during the interview it is stated that the facts mentioned in the application for granting the status of refugee comply with provisions of Article 2 of this Law, the application shall be reviewed not later than within three months after its registration.

(2) In individual cases the term for reviewing of application on granting the status of refugee can be extended up to six months after complying with the Head of Administration.

Article 18. Grounds which do not allow the granting of status of refugee


(1) The person is not granted the status of refugee if:

1) the person has the nationality (citizenship) of the country where the threats of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law do not exist;

2) the person is a stateless person (a person who has no nationality (citizenship) and the threats of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law do not exist in the country of his/her former habitual residence;

3) the person has resided before entrance to the Republic of Latvia in the country where the threats of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law do not exist and where he/she could apply for asylum;

4) the person has acquired the status of refugee in other country and can avail its protection without well-founded fear of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law;

5) the issue on granting of status of refugee to mentioned person is reviewed in the country where the threats mentioned in Article 2 of this Law do not exist;

6) the person has committed the crimes against peace, a war crimes or the crimes against humanity, also the genocide crimes, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;

7) the person has committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside the border of Latvia prior to his/her admission to Latvia as a seeker for asylum;

8) the person belongs to the terrorist or other criminal organization;

9) the person has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations;

10) the person fails to observe knowingly requirements determined in Part 3 of Article 10 of this Law or submits knowingly untrue information if they are essential for deciding an issue on granting the status of refugee;

11) the person voluntary restores the legal relations with the country of his/her nationality (citizenship) or if the person is the stateless person - with the country of his/her previous habitual residence (applies for legal protection to official institutions or officials of the mentioned country or carries out activities for voluntary return to this country);

12) the person voluntary establishes the legal relations with other state - by receiving its nationality (citizenship) and enjoys its legal protection;

13) the situation in the country of nationality (citizenship) of the person or if the mentioned person is a stateless person - in the country of his/her previous habitual residence, changes in the way that the grounds for fear of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law cease to exist.

(2) The lists of countries mentioned in Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Part 1 of this Article are approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Article 19. Decision on granting the status of refugee or refusal to grant the same


(1) The Center passes the decision or granting the status of refugee or refusal to grant the same after performing measures mentioned in Part 2 of Article 12, Part 2 of Article 13 and Part 2 of Article 14 of this Law in compliance with the results of these measures.

(2) When passing the decision on granting the status of refugee or refusal to grant the same the doubts regarding the grounds of the application shall be interpreted in favor of the person's rights to receive the status of refugee.

(3) The decision of the Center mentioned in Part 1 of this Article shall be arranged in writing and substantiation in full of the decision and the procedures for its appealing shall be included into it. The seeker for asylum shall be acquainted with the contents of the decision immediately.

(4) The Center provides for possibility to appeal the decision to Council and to arrive at the Council when the case is reviewed.

Article 20. Procedures for appealing the decision on granting the status of refugee or refusal to grant the same


(1) A complaint against the decision of the Center on granting the status of refugee or refusal to grant the same can be submitted to the Council within seven days by the seeker for asylum, his/her authorized agent or other interested person. The Council shall review the complaint within two months and its decision shall be final.

(2) Submission of the complaint mentioned in Part 1 of this Article shall suspend performance of measures mentioned in Article 29 of this Law. During review of the complaint the person shall be considered the seeker for asylum.

(3) The decision of the Council shall be arranged in writing and notified to the applicant of complaint.

Article 21. Reduced procedure for reviewing the application for granting the status of refugee


(1) If during the interview the well-founded suspect arises that the person complies with provisions of Paragraphs 1 - 5 of Part 1 of Article 18 of this Law or the person has resided in Latvia illegally more than seventy two hours or it is stated that the person complies with provisions of Paragraphs 6 - 9 of Part 1 of Article 18 of this Law, that is, the application for granting the status of refugee is obviously unfounded, it shall be reviewed in the procedure established by this Article.

(2) In cases mentioned in Part 1 of this Article validity of the person's application shall be examined by the Center within two working days, if it is recognized that the threats of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law do not exist, the decision on refusal to grant the status of refugee shall be adopted.

(3) The Center shall notify the Council about the decision mentioned in Part 2 of this Article immediately. The Council shall examine validity of the Center's decision. If also the Council recognizes that the application is not valid, it shall be considered rejected. Such decision of the Council is final and cannot be appealed.

(4) If the Center or Council violates the terms stated in Part 2 or Part 3 of this Article or if the Center or Council recognizes that the application on granting the status of refugee is well-founded, it shall be reviewed in the ordinary procedure.


Chapter IV
Legal Status of Refugees in the Republic of Latvia

Article 22. Residence of refugees in the Republic of Latvia


(1) The Administration on the basis of the travel document issued to refugee in the procedure established by Article 23 of this Law, shall issue the permanent residence permit in the Republic of Latvia free of charge. The Cabinet of Ministers shall issue regulations on the procedure for annual registration of permanent residence permits issued to refugees and on the procedure for choosing their place of residence in the Republic of Latvia to ensure their integration in Latvian community and to prevent formation of ex-communicated groups of residents.

(2) The refugee can not be expelled or extradited to the country where the threats of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law exist.

Article 23. Identity papers and travel documents of the refugee


The refugee considering the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of July 28, 1951 shall be issued the travel document what shall be an identity paper of the refugee simultaneously. The type of the travel documents and procedures for their issuing shall be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Article 24. Refugee's allowance and assistance granted by the state for integration in society


If the refugee has not other sources of subsistence within first 12 months after granting the status of refugee, he/she shall receive an allowance in the amount and procedure established by the Cabinet or Ministers, what shall cover costs of living and nourishment, as well as mastering of Latvian language.

Article 25. Rights and obligations of the refugee


(1) Economical, social, personal and other rights and freedoms, as well as obligations determined in Chapter 3 of the Constitutional Law "The Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person" shall be applied to refugees.

(2) Alongside with rights determined by the Law mentioned in Part 1 of this Article the refugees shall have the following rights:

1) freely leave Latvia and return to Latvia;

2) to have residing with them their family members (the spouse and their dependent children) from a foreign country. The spouse and the family members shall be recognized refugees in this case;

3) to preserve their native language, culture and traditions if they do not contradict to legislative acts in effect;

4) to be assisted by an interpreter in Court; to exercise the right to the choice of language in communicating with state authority and administration institutions in accordance with the legislative acts in effect.


Chapter V
Losing the Status of Refugee and Termination of Residence in the Republic of Latvia

Article 26. Provisions for losing of the status of refugee


The status of refugee shall be lost if:

1) it is disclosed that it has obtained through the fault (the person had provided knowingly untrue information for obtaining the status of refugee which was essential for granting the status of refugee);

2) the person voluntary restores legal relations with the country of his/her nationality (citizenship) or if the person is a stateless person - with the country of his/her previous habitual residence, applies for assistance to official institutions or officials of mentioned country or returns to this country voluntary;

3) the person voluntary establishes legal relations with other country - receives its nationality (citizenship) and enjoys its legal protection;

4) the situation in the country of nationality (citizenship) of the person or if the mentioned person is a stateless person - in the country of his/her previous habitual residence, changes in the way that the grounds for fear of persecution mentioned in Article 2 of this Law cease to exist;

5) the person is granted the citizenship of Latvia;

6) the person is declared guilty in committing of especially serious crime what threatens the public.


Article 27. Decision on losing the status of refugee


(1) The Center shall pass the decision on losing the status of refugee not later than within a month after finding out of any circumstances mentioned in Article 26 of this Law.

(2) The Council shall be informed about the decision mentioned in Part 1 of this Article immediately and shall examine validity of the decision within a month. On the basis of results of the examination the Council approves or annuls the mentioned decision.

Article 28. Procedures for appealing against the decision on losing the status of refugee


(1) The decision of the Council mentioned in Part 2 of Article 27 of this Law can be appealed to the Court in the procedure established by law.

(2) Filing the complaint mentioned in Part 1 of Article 27 of this Law shall suspend the performance of measures mentioned in Article 29 of this Law. During review of the complaint the person shall be considered a refugee.

Article 29. Termination of residence in the Republic of Latvia


(1) The person whose application for granting the status of refugee is rejected shall e expelled considering the procedure established by the Law. "On the Entry and Residence of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in the Republic of Latvia".

(2) The person who has lost the status of refugee shall leave the territory of the Republic of Latvia within two months if he/she has not other valid grounds for residence in Latvia.

(3) Provisions of Part 1 of this Article shall not be applied to persons' whose application for granting the status of refugee was reviewed according to reduced procedure and has been rejected. The mentioned persons shall be expelled from the Republic of Latvia in the procedure determined by the Minister of the Interior.


Chapter VI
Final Provision

Article 30. Priority of international legal rules


If international agreements of the Republic of Latvia affirmed by the Saeima provides for different provisions than this Law, the rules of international agreement shall be applied.


Transitional Provision

1. Issuance of travel documents determined by Article 23 of this Law shall be commenced after taking effect in the Republic of Latvia of United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of July 28, 1951. By this the identity paper mentioned in Article 16 of this Law shall be regarded as a document certified the identity of refugee where special marks shall be introduced in the procedure determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

2. The Cabinet of Ministers shall issue regulations for implementation of this Law by January 1, 1998.

3. The rules of the Law which implementation shall be regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers regulations shall not be applied while the relevant the Cabinet of Ministers regulations have not taken effect.


The President of the Republic of Latvia
G.Ulmanis


Translation (C) by the Latvia Law Institute. All rights reserved. Other translation of Latvian laws available. E-mail: latjurinst@parks.lv