COVID-19 in Latvia: How does declared emergency situation affect immigration process?

2020 - 03 - 20
Article by: Marija Berdova

How does declared emergency situation in Latvia affect immigration process?

On 12 March 2020 the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia has declared an emergency situation throughout the territory of Latvia with a view to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

On the basis of decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia as of 14 March 2020, a range of border crossing restrictions came into force on 17 March 20201. The restrictions provided by the government have affected rendering of customer services of several state authorities, including the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (hereinafter – the OCMA).

Obtaining of residence permits and annual registration

Although, in general the emergency situation has not affected the process of requesting residence permit for the second term or annual registration procedure – as of 18 March 2020 OCMA does not provide customer services in person, which means that the submission of documents and receipt of the ID documents at one of the regional OCMA departments is not possible. It is also impossible to submit documents at the Embassy of Latvia abroad.

Consequently, persons who would like to repeatedly obtain a residence permit in Latvia or to submit documents for annual registration of the residence permit may use the following options during the emergency situation:

1)     by submitting documents electronically (documents should be executed by secure electronic signature, containing a time-stamp);

2)     by sending documents via ordinary mail (currently OCMA doesn’t accept documents which are sent via registered mail or by courier).

Obtaining of residence permit for the first time is allowed only for those foreigners, who are currently residing in Latvia on the basis of valid visas or visa exempt nationals.

Latvian diplomatic missions and consular missions abroad do not accept any documents regarding obtaining residence permits or annual registration of residence permits in person while the state of emergency remains in force.

Since the decision on granting of the residence permit or annual registration of residence permit is valid for three months, foreigners, currently residing in Latvia and those, who are currently residing abroad, should wait until the end of the emergency situation and afterwards receive the ID card at OCMA department in person.

Obtaining and extension of visas

Starting from 18 March 2020 applications for extension of short-term and long-term visas are not accepted. If the foreigner’s planned stay in Latvia is related to work or studies, the application for a long-term visa can be submitted with OCMA via ordinary mail.

Latvian diplomatic missions and consular missions abroad do not issue long-term and short-term visas while the state of emergency remains in force. Foreigners, whose period of legal stay in Latvia will end during the state of emergency, will be able to leave Latvia without any obstacles.

DISCLAMER: This overview is based on information that is publicly available on 20 March 2020.

All international passenger traffic through airports, ports, by bus and rail transport are cancelled as of 17 March 2020. The movement of persons and vehicles through airport, port, railway and road border crossing points at the European Union’s external border, as well as at border crossing points intended for local border traffic are banned from 17 March 2020. Nationals of Latvia and nationals of other countries residing permanently in Latvia can return to Latvia through the above- mentioned border crossing points. Foreign nationals are permitted to travel away from Latvia.
Regarding related employment issues please contact COBALT Latvia Partner Toms Šulmanis, Associate Marija Berdova and Assistant Lawyer Alīna Ustinova.