An ambush for the government over Latvian Immigration Law

Posted by pleasureburger on May 5th, 2021

An ambush for the government over Latvian Immigration Law

On the 27th of September newspapers reported that the government of Latvia had committed itself to make a decision on quotas for the acquisition of residence permits by means of real estate. This discussion on a possible change to immigration law in Latvia began after the national party united with members of the Visu Latvijai! (All for Latvia) and Tēvzemei un brīvībai/LNNK (For the motherland and freedom/LLNK) political parties. These parties had voiced strong protests over the perceived situation with immigrants in Latvia. The National party chose the perfect time to raise the issue, right before the next budget approval vote so that the other parties and the people of Latvia would have to get involved with the discussion, and to ensure that a resolution to the problem could not be avoided.

No government shutdown for the Latvians

Although the government did not support what the national party wanted, their opposition had to take second place to higher priority amendments to the budget. The question of residence permits by means of investment in real estate was a trivial issue when seen in context of the government agenda, and there seemed to be no compromise to be found, however almost everyone in the government of Latvia had similar ideas regarding the possibility of introducing additional requirements for residence permits in the form of needed investment in support of Latvian families, included into immigration law.

As noted, the national party wanted to change the law to stop immigration to Latvia by individuals obtaining residence permits through real estate, before 2014, and instead focus efforts on assistance for Latvian families and care for new mothers. The leading party, Vienotība (Unity) disagreed with the national party's plan to stop the residence permit program, but instead proposed to double the amount of investment required for the real estate program, put in force a quota system, in addition to introducing a special donation fund. For completeness it is worth mentioning that Reformu Partija (Party of reforms), another party involved in the discussions, proposed stopping the real estate residence permit program altogether, but doing this over the longer term so that businesses and real estate companies can prepare for the changes and hence would not feel the hit in terms of the sudden loss of customers and investment. They proposed year was 2015, but this was flexible.

Not just about Politics

On the 30th of September, Latvian pop philosopher Māris Zanders said, 'Residence permits are not a problem for only the politicians'. By that he meant that all these discussions were pointless, and that having such a program for real estate residency in Latvian immigration law, carried with it the real possibility to create a new housing bubble which, history in Latvia has shown to be a dangerous thing - for the country, for locals and even for the immigrants. It's hard to predict events, but even the thought of a possible bubble brings back very difficult memories to the minds of most Latvians.

Zanders continued by stating that during the period of world economic crisis after 2008, far more people left Latvia than came - which removes any concern about overpopulation or crowding. Additionally most of these immigrants actually create employment - they are not taking jobs away from Latvians and instead adding to the local economy. A More serious question is whether Latvia is will, on the global scale, be a producer and export nation, or merely a consumer.

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