In accordance with the Law the third-country national is any person who is not a citizen of Latvia or a citizen of one of the Member States of the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland. In accordance with his Law all foreigners and non-citizens of Latvia are considered as third-country nationals.
The long-term resident status of the European Community will not be compulsory and will not be granted to persons automatically – a person who wishes to acquire the long-term resident status, applies to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs and simultaneously shall meet certain criterion.
The main criterions for acquiring the EC long-term resident status are:
1. The Member State shall grant the EC long-term resident status, if person has resided legally and continuously within its territory for five years immediately prior to the submission of the relevant application permitting periods of absence from the territory of the state concerned shorter than six consecutive months and do not exceed in total 10 months within the period referred.
2. Person shall prove that he or she has sufficient resources to maintain himself or herself and the members of his or her family. Besides, the means of subsistence shall be stable and regular, namely, during last 12 months he or she has received at least the minimum wage determined in the state and has paid the taxes. As sufficient financial means will be considered also a pension.
3. Taking into consideration that the objective of this Directive is the integration of the third-country nationals who have resided in the Member States for a period of determined time, it is required the state language’s knowledge of the Member State for acquiring the EC long-term resident status. Persons, who wish to acquire this status, will have to pass the state language tests in the State Language Certification Center. It is envisaged that the knowledge of Latvian language will have to correspond to the stage B of the first level, which is the second lower level of the skills of the state language knowledge.
The holder of the EC long-term resident status will receive a relevant sticker in his or her passport, which indicates that person is the holder of the EC long-term resident status.
What status will have the persons who do not acquire the EC long-term resident status?
If a non-citizen of Latvia does not wish to acquire such privileged status in the European Union, his or her legal status in Latvia will not change, but he or she will be able to stay in the EU Member States as anyone third-country national in accordance with the general procedure. A non-citizen of Latvia or foreigner who has acquired this status will enjoy equal rights as anyone non-citizen of Latvia or foreigner with permanent residence permit
Can the holders of the EC long-term resident status travel to another EU states without visas?
The visas will be necessary for third-country nationals also after acquisition the EC long-term resident status for traveling to the EU countries, because the Directive 2003/109/EC applies to the residence of persons in one of the countries but not to the traveling. Non-citizens of Latvia in accordance with the Regulation of European Council No.539/2001 can travel in European Union countries, except Ireland and Great Britain, without visas.
The foreigners, who live in Latvia with permanent residence permits, could travel without visas within the territory of the European Union after Latvia’s accession to the Schengen agreement, what is expected in 2007 or 2008. Nevertheless, it is possible, that also after Latvia’s accession to the Schengen agreement, in order to acquire a residence permit in one of the EU state, a person will have to hold the EC long-term resident status.
To whom it is convenient to acquire the long-term resident’s EC residence permit?
- The acquisition of the EC long-term resident status is convenient for those third-country nationals who wish to move to another EU Member State with a view to exercising an economic activity in an employed or self-employed capacity. Henceforth a person, who has acquired the EC long-term resident status in Latvia, after one year, during which he or she has worked in another EU state, might freely change an employer (currently such person is obliged to work only for an employer who has invited his or her for a work). Moreover, it would be easier for the holder of the EC long-term resident status to find a job.
- More favourable situation is also for those persons, who enter the territory of Latvia for the purpose to live there. Up to now the permanent residence permit could be acquired after ten resided years in Latvia (spouses – after five resided years in Latvia). In accordance with the amendments to the Immigration Law, the permanent residence permit or long-term resident status of EC might be acquired after five legally and continuously resided years in Latvia.
- More favourable conditions will be also for persons, who lose their legal status and move to another third country for living, for example, to USA or Israel. Currently the legislation does not allow a return, but in accordance with the new legislation a person will be able to return within the period of three years and still after two years can again acquire the long-term resident status of EC.
- The status will give the rights to require the residence permit residing in the Member State and to require the temporary residence permit also in case a person has sufficient means of subsistence to maintain himself or herself and there are no other reasons to reside in this state. In such case each state has the rights to determine its minimum amount, which usually is very high.
- As relates to the studying in one of the EU Member State, no essential changes are expected for the persons who have acquired the EC long-term resident status.
Can be required the EC long-term resident status for the purpose on studying?
No, if a person resides in a Member State of the European Union in order to acquire education, the long-term resident’s EC residence permit may not be required. For example, if a student from Russia studies in Latvia and after two academic years gets married, he or she may require the EC long-term resident status after next three years. The Directive stipulates, that before the acquisition of the EC long-term resident status, the periods of residence for study purpose shall not be longer than a half of the period he or she has spent in Latvia.
If a person has moved to Latvia for the purpose of marriage and has divorced after a time period, he or she is no longer be entitled to hold the residence permit. If this person has enter the high school while the residence permit is not still withdrawn and he or she has acquired relevant residence permit, he or she is not entitled to receive the EC long-term resident status, because he or she resides in Latvia on ground of studies.
If a person who has acquired the EC long-term resident status in Latvia moves to another Member State with a view to exercising an economic activity in an employed or self-employed capacity, this person shall have regular and stable incomes for himself or herself and the members of his or her family without recourse to the social assistance system of the Member State concerned. A person concerned shall have also the sickness insurance in respect of all risks in the second Member State normally covered for its own nationals in the Member State concerned. Member State may require third-country nationals to comply with appropriate level of the state language’s knowledge and appropriate accommodation. The person must receive a residence permit and work permit in a Member State.
What is the procedure to acquire the EC long-term resident status?
To acquire the EC long-term resident status a person concerned shall apply to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs and shall lodged the following documents:
1. Documentary evidence that the person concerned has resided last five years in Latvia. There might be different kind and ways for providing evidences, for example, the State Border Guard of the Republic of Latvia has the information on the border crossing, namely, information regarding the stay of third-country nationals outside Latvia, in passport (travel document) are stamps providing the evidences on the border crossing, but other might indicate their working places and educational institutions. If another institution holds such kind of information, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs itself will require this information. The declarated place of residence is not the evidence of the fact that the person lived in Latvia last 5 years.
2. Reference as evidence on the last twelve-month incomes. After that, when a person will submit a reference from the working place that proves the received payment during definite time period, the staff of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs in cooperation with the State Revenue Service will examine whether appropriate tax obligations has done for indicated work payment. Therefore, if a person has received the work payment in “envelope” or has worked only casual works, then he or she will not be entitled to acquire such status.
3. Certificate for the proficiency of state language’s knowledge in determined or higher level. If a person does not submit the certificate, which proves the state language’s knowledge, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs will examine this information through communicating with the State Language Certification Center.
4. Person’s photography and filled application.
5. The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs will examine the existence of the residence place as well. Third-country nationals who reside with the temporary residence permit and who are already entitled to require this status will be required to prove that the residence place in Latvia for him or her is guaranteed also in future.
6. Criterion of public security and public policy, which will be examined by the competent national authorities in Latvia - this information OCMA gathers by itself.
The EC long-term resident status may be acquired within three months from the date on which the documentation was lodged. The EC long-term resident status shall be granted for five years with opportunity to be automatically renewable on expiry without submission of new documents.
State duty for the examining of documents:
- For the examining of documents submitted for obtaining the long-term resident status of the European Community in the Republic of Latvia, if the foreigner resides with a valid residence permit:
- For the examining of documents submitted for obtaining the long-term resident status of the European Community in the Republic of Latvia for non-citizen of Latvia, foreigner, who has been a citizen or a non-citizen of the Republic of Latvia prior to acquiring the citizenship of another country, or for foreigner, who resides in the Republic of Latvia with valid permanent residence permit:
Can the person acquire the EC long-term resident status in another EU Member State?
Yes, a person, who has acquired the EC long-term resident status in Latvia after five legally resided years in another EU Member State and fulfilling all the necessary criterion, may acquire the EC long-term resident status also in another EU Member State, but thereof loosing the EC long-term resident status in Latvia. The Directive stipulates, that a person shall have the EU long-term resident status only in one of the EU Member States.
The EC long-term resident status shall be loosed, if:
- a person has obtained the citizenship of Latvia or of another EU Member States;
- a person has acquired the EC long-term resident status in another EU Member State;
- a person has provided false information to obtain the status;
- if a person has resided outside the territory of the Community twelve consecutive months or outside Latvia six years (for example, if a person moves to Norway, which is not the EU Member State , with a view to exercising an economic activity in an employed or self-employed capacity for longer time period than twelve months, not to loose the EC long-term resident status, it would be necessary that the person goes to Latvia at least once during twelve months period);
- threat to public security and public policy, which is examined by the competent national authorities in Latvia.