Residence permit in Latvia. Questions and answers

26.01.2017 Karina Katz, lawyer

A temporary residence permit program in Latvia has been popular for a number of years, and despite recent changes in the immigration legislation, which has made it much more difficult for new applicants to obtain residency in Latvia, the topic is still burning. Law firm INLAT PLUS often receives different questions from foreigners regarding the possibilities of obtaining the residence permit in Latvia, as well as the advantages and rights granted by this status.

We have decided to put together the questions regarding purely practical matters, asked by the foreigners who already have a residence permit in Latvia or those planning to move to our country in the future. 

Question: I have heard that there is an s.c. „Riga Resident’s Card” which grants a number of privileges to the residents of Riga. Can I also obtain this card if I reside in Riga with a valid temporary residence permit? 

Answer: Yes, sure. “Riga Resident’s Card” can be obtained by all residents of Riga (i.e. those having declared their residence in Riga or persons who own a real estate in Riga), including the foreigners who have a temporary residence permit in Latvia. 

Question: I and my husband have a residence permit in Latvia. We are expecting a child soon. Are we entitled to place our child to the municipal nursery school, just like local parents, or are there any restrictions? 

Answer: In this particular aspect you have the same rights as any local parents. As soon as your child is born and is granted a personal identity number, you are entitled to sign up for a place in the municipal nursery school. The most important thing is that your child must have a declared residence in the relevant municipality.   

Question: My husband and I have a temporary residence permit in Latvia and we live in Latvia on the permanent basis. I’m working for a Latvian company and all the taxes have been paid for me as an employee. I’m pregnant and planning to leave for a maternity leave in the future. Am I entitled to have any kind of maternal benefits due to be paid by the state of Latvia? 

Answer: There is a number of benefits paid by the State Social Insurance Agency (VSAA) to future mothers or those who have already given birth to a child. Certain types of benefits (e.g. a child birth benefit and a family state benefit) are only paid to those women who have a permanent residence permit in Latvia. However, you are also entitled to have certain benefits, and namely: a maternal benefit and parents’ benefit. Whereas the child’s father is entitled to be paid a paternity benefit. 

Question: I have a temporary residence permit in Latvia. I officially work for a Latvian company. In case I get fired will I be paid an unemployment benefit? 

Answer: First of all, it’s important to understand on what grounds you have been granted a temporary residence permit. If it was not based on your employment but on other grounds – e.g. on the grounds of family reunion or you have purchased a property in Latvia, then the answer is yes, you will be paid an unemployment benefit. However, if you have been fired by the employer who once hired you as a foreigner (based on which, you obtained your residence permit in the first place), then the situation is completely different: as soon as you are fired, you will immediately lose the grounds to reside in Latvia, that’s why you will not be entitled to be paid an unemployment benefit.  

Question: Our family has moved to Latvia on the basis of the temporary residence program. As we can see, medical treatment for children in Latvia is free of charge, including dentist’s services. Does it refer to our children as well? And what about us, grown-ups? Can we sign up for a family doctor in a state hospital? 

Answer: Unfortunately, the answer is no, since you have a temporary residence permit. In the future, when you have a permanent residence permit you will be entitled to obtain all these privileges, the same way as ordinary Latvian residents. 

Question: Which kinds of insurance events are covered by the foreigner health insurance which I as a foreigner must purchase when obtaining the temporary residence permit (as well as every year after that – when prolonging my residence permit)? Is it a health insurance in the broad sense of this word? 

Answer: No, the main purpose of this type of insurance is to cover the expenses regarding the repatriation in case of illness or death, as well as emergency medical expenses. E.g. if you need an urgent operation during your stay in Latvia. Once our client who resides in Latvia with a temporary residence permit needed his appendicitis to be operated urgently, he was brought to the hospital in the middle of the night. The insurance company has covered most of the medical expenses (about 700 EUR) in respect of the operation and hospital stay, which was really appreciated by this person’s family. 

Question: My friends say that the temporary residence permit in Latvia is basically the same as a long-term visa. Does the residence permit have any other advantages, apart from the possibility to reside in Latvia?  

Answer: There is a number of advantages, we can mention the most significant ones: 

  • Once you have been granted a temporary residence permit, in 5 years you are entitled to apply for a permanent residence permit (in the event you meet certain criteria), which, in its turn, allows you to apply for Latvian citizenship in another 5 years; 
  • A temporary residence permit allows travelling around the Schengen area countries without visas and staying there for 90 days in six months; 
  • A person who has a temporary residence permit in Latvia may issue invitations for visas to his or her relatives up to the third degree; 
  • A temporary residence permit allows issuing visas to other countries (e.g. the UK) according to a simplified procedure; 
  • A temporary residence permit allows working in Latvia (with a few exceptions, the majority of the temporary residence permit holders are entitled to work).
Recent News