Law "On the Entry and Residence of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in the Republic of Latvia"


I Terms used in this law

Exchange
- a bilateral international exchange of school children, students, teachers, academics, researchers or specialists for the purpose of studies or research.

Foreign citizen
- a person with the citizenship of another state.

Stateless person (apatrid)
- a person without citizenship.

Deportation order
- in accordance with the provisions of this law, the Head's of the Ministry of the Interior Administration of Citizenship and Migration Matters order to a foreign citizen or stateless person to leave the territory of Latvia.

Invitation
- a document in which the inviting party undertakes the responsibility for a person invited from a foreign country and guarantees to cover his/her financial and medical expenses. It is necessary to have the Republic of Latvia Ministry of Welfare endorsement that the invited person is allowed to work in Latvia, if the invitation is associated with work for which wages are anticipated or for which the person has the right to request wages.

Non-citizen -
a person entitled to the non-citizen's passport issued by the Republic of Latvia in accordance with the law "On the Status of Former USSR Citizens Who are not Citizens of Latvia or Any Other State".

Permanent residence permit
- a document which grants the right to permanently reside in Latvia

Persons who enjoy special international legal protection
- diplomats, parliament deputies, government representatives, consuls, international organization officials, international diplomatic conference participants, as well as their family members, whose special status has been recognized by the Republic of Latvia Government.

Reemigrant
- a person who has returned to the country from which he/she emigrated.

Repatriate
- a person who is a citizen of Latvia or for whom one of the parents or grand-parents is a Latvian or Liv, and who moves to Latvia for permanent residence.

Temporary residence permit
- a document received by a foreign citizen or a stateless person, if his/her stay in Latvia is for a limited time period.

Transit
- the travel of a person from another country through the territory of Latvia to a third country.

Visa
- an official endorsement in a passport or other travel document recognized by the Republic of Latvia granting permission to enter Latvia.


II General regulations

Article 1

This Law regulates the procedure for the entrance, stay and deportation of foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Republic of Latvia.

Article 2

The goals of this law are to regulate the number of residents and the processes which influence the population structure in Latvia, as well as to promote the social and economic development of the People of Latvia in accordance with generally accepted standards on human rights.

Article 3

This law is binding upon all Republic of Latvia physical persons and legal entities who are associated with foreign citizens and stateless persons who have entered Latvia, as well as upon all foreign citizens and stateless persons themselves, except for those persons who enjoy special international legal protection recognized by the Republic of Latvia Government.

Article 4

The Republic of Latvia encourages persons who have received permanent residence permits to integrate into society and to acquire the fundamentals of Latvian language, culture, history and state structure.

III Entrance regulations

Article 5

The Ministry of the Interior Administration of Citizenship and Migration Matters (hereinafter - Administration), within the limits of its competence and together with other Republic of Latvia state institutions regulates and controls the entrance and stay of foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Republic of Latvia.

Article 6

The Administration in cooperation with the Border Guard, Customs and the Ministry of the Interior services, enumerates and supervises transit.

Article 7

Foreign citizens and stateless persons may enter the Republic of Latvia territory upon presenting a travel document with a valid entry visa or residence permit.

This provision shall not apply to:
1) citizens (subjects) of those states in respect of whose entry and residence in the Republic of Latvia territory other procedure is anticipated by international agreements binding for the Republic of Latvia;
2) persons who use the United Nations Organization passport as a travel document;
3) persons who use the Vatican passport as a travel document;
4) persons who use a European Commission passport as a travel document;
5) persons who use a European Union member country diplomatic or service passport as a travel document.

The procedure by which foreign sailors shall cross the border of the Republic of Latvia and reside within the territory of the Republic of Latvia, shall be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Article 8

Visas shall be issued under the procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers:
1) by the Republic of Latvia diplomatic and consular representatives - abroad;
2) by the Administration - at the Republic of Latvia border-crossing places designated by the Cabinet of Ministers and inland;
3) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Consular Department - inland.

Documents for the receipt of a visa can be submitted in the Latvian, English, Russian, French or German languages or in the language of that country wherein a Latvian Diplomatic or Consular representation is located.

Article 9

Minors may enter Latvia together with their parents, guardians, trustees or other persons who are responsible for them.

Minors are allowed to enter Latvia independently to join their parents, guardians or trustees.

Article 10

Border crossing procedures for border zone residents are governed by international treaties/agreements.

IV Residence permits

Article 11

Any foreigner or a stateless person may reside within the Republic of Latvia longer than ninety days during a half of a calendar year if the residence permit in the procedure determined in this law has been received.

Without a residence permit a foreigner may reside within the Republic of Latvia longer than ninety days during half of a calendar year only if, in the procedure anticipated by Cabinet of Ministers regulations a corresponding visa is received and if residence within Latvia is connected with:
1) scientific research or educational activity (faculty in a state-accredited educational institution;
2) commercial activity (entrepreneurial activity);
3) assistance to state and local government institutions of the Republic of Latvia;
4) for the implementation of those international agreements and projects in which the Republic of Latvia is participating.

In those cases mentioned in the second Part of this Article a visa shall be issued for the period of time which is necessary for the execution of the tasks mentioned in it, but for no longer than for one year.

Article 12

Foreign citizens and stateless persons may be issued:
1) a temporary residence permit;
2) a permanent residence permit.

Temporary and permanent residence permits shall be issued in the procedure determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Article 13

Residence permits shall be issued, annulled and recognized as invalid by the Administration. In foreign states residence permits (in cooperation with the Administration) shall be issued by the Republic of Latvia diplomatic and consular representations.

Article 14

The residence permit shall be registered with the territorial section of the Administration according to the chosen place of residence, under the procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Article 15

Return of non-citizens to the Republic of Latvia shall be governed by the law "On the Status of Former USSR Citizens Who are not Citizens of Latvia or Any Other State".

General procedures shall apply to reemigrant entry.

Article 16

Thirty days prior to the end of each calendar year, the Cabinet of Ministers will provide the Saeima with a summary of the issued and annulled residence permits and a summary of deported foreign citizens or stateless persons during this period, as well as a summary of separate Cabinet of Ministers decisions according to which residence permits have been issued, based upon Article 24 of this law.

V Temporary residence permits

Article 17

A foreign citizen or a stateless person may receive temporary residence permit:
1) for a period not exceeding six months;
2) for the period stipulated in an employment contract, educational or research cooperation program or other specified task;
3) for the period of time which is mentioned in Articles 25, 25.(1) and 26 of this Law.

Temporary residence permits shall be issued to family members of foreign citizens or stateless persons in accordance with Paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article.

Article 18

Foreign citizens or stateless persons who are issued temporary residence permits valid for six months, have the right to request an extension. The total period of the initial term and extensions must not exceed one year.

Article 19

Persons, who have received temporary residence permits on the basis of Article 17, Paragraph 2 of this law and for whom the permit term has expired, have the right to request a new temporary residence permit in accordance with general procedures.

Article 20

A civil/legal obligation, the term of which exceeds the valid term of the residence permit, cannot be only grounds for the extension of the residence permit.

Article 21

School children, students, interns, post-graduate students and researchers are issued temporary residence permits for the planned study or research period. The invitation of an educational or research institution, indicating the length of the study or research period and guaranteeing financial support and medical care is necessary for the receipt of a temporary residence permit.

Article 22

If an exchange of persons takes place, the Republic of Latvia physical person or legal entity must guarantee to cover the exchange participant's financial and medical expenses.

VI Permanent residence permits

Article 23

Permanent residence permits may be received by:
1) minor or dependent children (also adoptees) of the Republic of Latvia citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received a permanent residence permit;
2) spouse, in accordance with Articles 25, 251, 26 or 28 of this law, as well as the spouse's minor or dependent children (also adoptees), in accordance with Article 281 of this law, of the Republic of Latvia citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received a permanent residence permit;
3) a foreign citizen or stateless person who has invested capital valued at no less than one million US dollars into the Republic of Latvia national economy.

Article 231

Permanent residence permits may be received by those foreign citizens who were registered (at the place of residence) on July 1, 1992 in the Republic of Latvia without a term limitation, if they are registered (at the place of residence) in the Republic of Latvia without limitation of a term at the moment of requesting the permanent residence permit, and are registered in the Residents' Register.

The former USSR citizens who have acquired citizenship of another state by September 1, 1996, shall submit by March 31, 1997 the application requesting to issue the permanent residence permit, but the former USSR citizens who have acquired citizenship of another state after September 1, 1996, shall submit the respective application within six months from the date of acquiring another state citizenship.

This Article shall not apply to:
1) military specialists employed in operating and dismantling a Russian Federation military object dislocated in the territory of Latvia, as well as to civilians on a mission to Latvia for this purpose;
2) persons retired from the active military service after January 28, 1992, if these persons have not resided permanently in the Latvian territory at the moment of conscription, or are not family members of Latvian citizens;
3) spouses of the persons mentioned in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 3 of this Article and to family members living together with them - children and other dependents, if they have arrived to Latvia in connection with the person's military service in the Russian Federation (USSR) armed forces, - regardless of the time when they have arrived to Latvia.

Article 232

The permanent residence permit shall receive these foreigners and stateless persons who are granted the status of refugee in accordance with the law "On Seekers for Asylum and Refugees in the Republic of Latvia".

Article 24
In those cases not anticipated in this law, a permanent residence permit shall be issued in accordance with the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers which regulates the procedure for the submission, registration and reviewing of documents necessary for receiving a residence permit as well as the procedure for adoption of decision.

VII Residence permits in cases of marriage

Article 25

To a Latvian citizen's spouse who is not a Latvian citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person, who has received the permanent residence permit, shall be issued:
1) on the basis of the first application - a temporary residence permit for one year;
2) on the basis of the second application - a temporary residence permit for four years;
3) on the basis of the third application - a permanent residence permit.

If the couple is divorced within five years mentioned in Part 1 of this Article, the temporary residence permit shall be annulled, except cases when the court leaves the child - the Latvian citizen - with the parent who is not a Latvian citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received the permanent residence permit. In these cases the former spouse shall be entitled to receive the permanent residence permit.

Article 251

To a non-citizen's spouse who is not a Latvian citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received the permanent residence permit, shall be issued:
1) on the basis of the first application - a temporary residence permit for one year;
2) on the basis of the second application - a temporary residence permit for four years;
3) on the basis of the third application - a permanent residence permit.

If the couple is divorced within five years mentioned in Part 1 of this Article, the temporary residence permit shall be annulled.

Article 26

To the spouse of a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received the permanent residence permit, who is not a Latvian citizen, non-citizen or a foreign citizen or stateless person who has received the permanent residence permit, shall be issued:
1) on the basis of the first application - a temporary residence permit for one year;
2) on the basis of the second application - a temporary residence permit for four years;
3) on the basis of the third application - a permanent residence permit.

If the couple is divorced within five years mentioned in Part 1 of this Article, the temporary residence permit shall be annulled.

Article 27

If a foreign citizen or a stateless person marries a foreign citizen or stateless person who resides in Latvia with a temporary residence permit, then the spouse may request a temporary residence permit for the same period of time as the first person's temporary residence permit.

Article 28

If a married the citizen or non-citizen of Latvia dies during the marriage to a foreign citizen or a stateless person, and there are no children from the marriage, then the temporary residence permit of the foreign citizen or stateless person is not renewed, except in circumstances when the surviving spouse inherits real property in Latvia according to procedures stipulated by law.

If there is a child from the above mentioned marriage, then the surviving spouse, the foreign citizen or stateless person, has the right to receive a permanent residence permit.

Article 281

For the term of residence permit issued to the spouse of a Latvian citizen, non-citizen or stateless person who has received the permanent residence permit, his/her minor or dependent children (also adoptees), who are not persons mentioned in Paragraph 1 of Article 23 of this law, shall be entitled to receive the residence permit, if there are no legal restrictions for these children's departure from their residence country.

VIII Procedures for the receipt of residence permits

Article 29
Application for receiving a residence permit shall be submitted:
1) by a foreign citizen or stateless person who wishes to enter the Republic of Latvia - to the Republic of Latvia diplomatic or consular representative;
2) by a foreign citizen or stateless person who legally resides in the Republic of Latvia - to the Administration no later than a month before expiration of the residence term.

The application form shall be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers regulations.

Article 30

In order to receive a temporary or permanent residence permit, a person shall submit to the Administration the documents required by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Documents for the receipt of temporary residence permit can be submitted in the Latvian, English, Russian, French or German languages.

Article 31

In order to receive a temporary residence permit, persons who arrive for employment for up to six months or who arrive in accordance with an employment contract, require an invitation from the employer which is endorsed by the Republic of Latvia Ministry of Welfare and verifies that for the corresponding profession there is a shortage in Latvia.

Article 32

(Deleted by law of December 18, 1996)

Article 33

Counting from the submission date of all necessary documents required in the regulations stipulated by the cabinet of Ministers, the Administration reviews the request for a residence permit and replies:
- for a temporary residence permit - within one month;
- for a permanent residence permit - within three months.

In the event of a refusal, the reasons for the refusal must be specified.

Article 34

The interested person may appeal the refusal of the residence permit to the Head of the Administration, within a month, counting from the date of receiving the refusal. The Head of the Administration shall review the complaint within one month.

The Minister of the Interior may cancel by his/her decree an unlawful decision of the Administration or the Head of the Administration on issuing a residence permit or on refusal to issue it.

The mentioned decision or decree may be appealed in court under the procedure established by the law:
1) by the interested person who legally resides in the Republic of Latvia;
2) by a person who resides in Latvia, and has invited a foreign citizen or stateless person to whom issuing a residence permit has been refused, if the invitation is related to uniting the family.

Foreign citizens and stateless persons who reside abroad, and submit abroad the application for receiving the residence permit, may not appeal to the court the decision or decree on refusal of the residence permit.

IX Circumstances under which residence permits are not issued

Article 35

Residence permits are not issued, if a person:
1) suffers from such a health disturbance or disease, the nature, severity and potential duration of which endangers the security of society and health of its members, or there are substantiated suspicions that it may endanger health of society, and this disease is mentioned in the list approved by the Republic of Latvia Ministry of Welfare, except cases when the persons arrive to cure the indicated diseases with the Ministry of Welfare consent;
11) is without a health insurance policy which guarantees payment for health care during the person's stay in the Republic of Latvia;
2) cannot provide for him/herself or other persons who are dependent on him/her, except for circumstances in which a Republic of Latvia citizen undertakes responsibility for their care;
3) according to the procedures stipulated by law is recognized as guilty of an crime, which was committed in the Republic of Latvia or elsewhere and for which a penalty - imprisonment - is anticipated for a period of more than three years in accordance with the existing laws of the Republic of Latvia. This requirement is not applicable, if the punishment is deleted or eliminated according to the procedure stipulated by Republic of Latvia law, and in relation to crimes committed abroad, and if at least five years have passed from the end of the imprisonment sentence;
4) received a denial to enter Latvia within the previous year;
5) has been deported from Latvia during the last five years;
6) has willfully provided false information in order to receive a residence permit;
7) possesses invalid personal identification or travel documents or does not possess any travel documents;
8) has been active in a totalitarian, terrorist or other organization which utilizes violent methods, imposes a threat to state security or public order, or is a member of any secret anti-national or criminal organization;
9) has committed crimes against humanity, international or war crimes, or has participated in mass repression, if it is ascertained by a court judgment;
10) is within the guardianship of trusteeship of a person who is denied entry;
11) has illegally resided in the Republic of Latvia or has aided other foreign citizens or stateless persons to illegally enter Republic of Latvia territory;
12) has received a consideration (compensation) for departure for permanent residence abroad, regardless of whether this consideration (compensation) has been disbursed by the Latvian state or local government institutions or international (foreign) funds or institutions.

X Annulment of a residence permit, recognition of an invalid residence permit and a person's deportation from the state

Article 36

The residence permit is annulled, if a person:
1) has willfully submitted false information to the Administration;
2) has been recognized as guilty of committing a crime by a court sentence which has taken effect;
3) arouses substantiated suspicion for competent state institutions that he/she endangers public order and security or the state security;
4) is without a legal source of income;
5) has been active in a totalitarian, terrorist or other organization which uses violent methods, which does not recognize the existence of the Republic of Latvia as a state or is the member of a secret anti-national or criminal organization;
6) has entered the military or other government service of a foreign state, except in cases which are foreseen by international agreements;
7) (Deleted by law of December 18, 1996);
8) has repeatedly violated the registration requirements for residence permits;
9) has entered into a fictive marriage with a Republic of Latvia citizen or a non-citizen or with a foreign citizen or a stateless person who has a permanent residence permit, with the purpose of establishing grounds for obtaining a permanent residence permit;
10) has ceased the studies for which the temporary residence permit was received;
11) has ceased the employment relationships for which the temporary residence permit was received;
12) divorces the marriage in the cases mentioned in Articles 25, 25(1) or 26 of this law;
13) has begun employment without the respective permit
14) has received a consideration (compensation) for departure for permanent residence abroad, regardless of whether this consideration (compensation) has been disbursed by the State of Latvia or local government institutions or international (foreign) funds or institutions.

A state police official holding the position of the chief of a state police department or a higher position, shall be obligated in the cases mentioned in Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of Part 1 of this Article to submit to the Administration an application on annulling the residence permit.

Article 37

Residence permits are considered to be invalid, if a person:
1) has remained outside of Latvia more than one year without interruption or has remained outside of Latvia with interruptions for more than two-and-a-half years within a five-year period, except in cases when the person can prove that this has occurred for reasons beyond his/her control;
2) has repatriated.

Article 38

The Head of the Administration or the head of a territorial section shall issue a deportation order, requiring to leave the state territory:
1) in the cases mentioned in Article 36 of this law;
2) if the foreign citizen or stateless person stays in the state without a valid visa or residence permit;
3) if the foreign citizen or stateless person has otherwise violated the visa regime.

For a foreign citizen or stateless person, in whose passport is or has been an entry on registration in the territory of Latvia, the deportation order may be issued only by the Head of the Administration.

Article 39

If a deportation order is issued to a person whose other family members in Latvia are dependent upon him/her, then these family members must leave Latvia together with him/her. A deportation order does not apply to those family members who are Republic of Latvia citizens or non-citizens.

Article 40

The person shall leave the territory of the state within seven days from the moment when he/she has been notified about the deportation order, if it has not been appealed under the procedure established by this Article.

The person to whom the deportation order has been announced shall be entitled to appeal it within seven days to the Head of the Administration, who shall extend the residence term for the time of reviewing the complaint.

The decision of the Head of the Administration may be appealed within seven days from its receipt to the court according to the Administration's location.

Article 41

The Administration, cooperating with other state and local government institutions, shall control whether the person, who has received the deportation order, has left the state voluntarily.

Article 42

Expenses connected with execution of the deportation order or with the deportation of a person from the state shall be covered by the deportee or the physical person or legal entity who has invited the deportee. If collecting is not possible, the expenses shall be covered from the state budget.

Article 43

Companies which engage in the transportation of passengers by air and sea must cover the departure expenses of foreign citizens and stateless persons, if they have allowed such persons to enter the Republic of Latvia with invalid documents, incorrectly processed documents or without the necessary documents stipulated in Article 7 of this law.

XI Provision of information

Article 44

Law enforcement institutions and local governments shall submit the information at their disposal mentioned in Paragraphs 1-6, 8, 9, 12 and 14 of Article 36 of this law to the Administration. Crimes are reported by law enforcement institutions.

Article 45

Enterprises (entrepreneurial associations), institutions and organizations must inform the Administration within three days about the termination of work relationships or studies that they have established with foreign citizens or stateless persons.

XII Liability for violations of law

Article 46

Every legal entity or physical person shall be liable for violations of this law according to the procedures stipulated by Republic of Latvia laws.

Article 47

For violations of law, foreign citizens or stateless persons are issued a deportation order after they have served the imposed punishment or paid the imposed fine.

Article 48

If a person is employed without a residence permit in a job for which payment is anticipated, or for which he/she is entitled to receive payment, then the residence permit is annulled and the employer shall be liable according to law.

XII 1. A person's forcible deportation from the state

Article 481

The commander of a Border Guard Forces battalion or his deputy shall be entitled to adopt the decision on a person's forcible deportation from the state, if the person has entered the state illegally.

The Head of the Administration or the head of its territorial section may adopt the decision on a person's forcible deportation from the state, if the person has failed to leave the state within seven days from the moment when he/she has been notified about the deportation order, and has not appealed the deportation order under the procedure established by Parts 2 and 3 of Article 40 of this law, or if the complaint has been rejected.

The decision on forcible deportation from the state of a person in whose passport is or has been an entry on registration in the territory of Latvia shall be adopted only by the Head of the Administration.

The decision on forcible deportation from the state adopted under the procedure established by this Article shall not be appealable.

Article 482

A person's forcible deportation from the state shall be executed, within the framework of their functions, by the Border Guard Forces and by the State Police.

Article 483

The Border Guard Forces shall have the rights to detain trespassers of the state border for up to three days, but by notifying the public procurator, - for up to ten days.

Article 484

The State Police shall have the rights to detain a person in order to execute the decision on his/her forcible deportation from the state.

Article 485

The State Police shall have the rights to detain a person before adopting a decision on his/her forcible deportation from the state, if:
1) the person has entered the state illegally;
2) the person has rendered deliberately false information to the competent institutions for receiving a visa or residence permit;
3) the competent state institutions have substantiated suspicion that the person will hide, or the person has no definite place of residence in the state;
4) the competent state institutions have substantiated suspicion that the person endangers public order and security or state security.

In these cases the State Police shall have the rights to detain the person for up to three days, but by notifying the public procurator, - for up to ten days.

The State Police shall immediately notify the Administration about detaining a person. The Head of the Administration or the head of its territorial section shall decide on the detainee's forcible deportation from the state.

The decision on forcible deportation from the state, adopted under the procedure established by this Article, may be appealed by the person within three days under the procedure established by Article 40 of this law.

Article 486

The person in respect of whom a decision on forcible deportation from the state has been adopted, shall be kept in custody till execution of the deportation order, by notifying the public procurator about it.

Article 487

From the moment of detention the detained kept in custody shall have the rights to receive legal assistance from a sworn advocate. The person shall be notified about these rights at the moment of detention.

The state does not cover expenses for legal assistance provided by a sworn advocate to a person detained and being held under guard.

Article 488

The Border Guard Forces and the State Police shall have the rights to clarify a person's identity and to perform medical examination of the person, as well as to inspect the person and his/her belongings, by making up a protocol about it.

Article 489

Detained to be kept in custody shall be kept in the State Police institutions in specially equipped premises, moreover, separately from persons suspected for having committed crimes. These persons may be transported in the same vehicles as persons suspected for having committed crimes, but separately from them.

Article 4810

The National Guard and the local government police shall have the rights to detain foreign citizens and stateless persons who stay in the state without a valid visa or residence permit. These persons shall be delivered to the Administration, or its territorial section, or to a State Police institution, within three hours.

Article 4811

The instruction on the procedure by which forcible deportation shall be executed shall be issued by the Minister of the Interior.

XIII International treaties

Article 49

If the Republic of Latvia international agreements approved by the Saeima anticipate procedures on the entry, residence and deportation of foreign citizens and stateless persons other than those stipulated in this law, the regulations of the international agreement shall be applied.

XIV State duty

Article 50

State duty in the amount established by the Cabinet of Ministers shall be charged for issuing a visa or residence permit and for services related thereto.


Chairman, Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia
A.Gorbunovs

Secretary, Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia
I.Daudiss


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