Since January 19, 2016, the Asylum Law has been in force in Latvia, which allows individuals to apply for refugee status with the provision of a residence permit in Latvia.
In accordance with article 37 of this law, a third-country national who on the basis of justified fear from persecution due to his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a specific social group or his or her political views is located outside the country where he or she is a national, and is unable or due to such fear does not wish to accept the protection of the country where he or she is a national, or a stateless person, who being outside his former country of permanent residence is unable or unwilling to return there due to the same reasons, may apply for refugee status.
Thus, if a person speaking at rallies and expressing his or her political views is persecuted for this by local authorities, then he can apply for refugee status in Latvia by submitting an application and other documents either at the place of crossing the state border before entering Latvia, or in a structural unit of the State Border Guard Service, if this person is in Latvia.
However, this does not mean that with the applicant’s life story, which will set out the facts and circumstances of the persecution, it will be sufficient to obtain refugee status. In other words, this does not mean that this story will be considered as plausible. Therefore, it is advisable that, together with the application, properly executed documents confirming all the facts and events set forth in the application are attached.
It is important to understand that protection against deportation (even if an extradition request is filed) comes into effect not from the moment of obtaining refugee status, but from the moment the decision to accept the case for consideration and the issuance of an asylum seeker’s certificate comes into force. A person who has received such a certificate has the right to legally stay in Latvia without any visa or residence permit.
Law firm Inlatplus has extensive experience in handling such cases and is ready to provide any assistance to its clients in obtaining refugee status in Latvia.