Latvia to raise cost of immigrant investor visas in January 2014
11 November 2013
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Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has announced that it will become much more expensive to qualify for a Latvian immigrant investor visa. The fee for the visa will rise from the current level of 70 Latvian Lats (£83, $133)to €25,000 (£20,870, $33,500) and the minimum qualifying investment will rise from 25,000LVL ($47,357, €35,590) to €150,000 (£178,300, $287,000).
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There will also be a maximum 800 immigrant investor visas issued each year. The changes will come into force in January 2014.
The final announcement was made on 31st October 2013 after three weeks of discussions among members of Latvia's ruling coalition government. The changes were agreed in principle by the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, and the cabinet early in October but the level of the new fee has taken commentators by surprise.
Main changesThe main changes are
- In 2014, a maximum of only 800 immigrant investor visas will be issued.
- 700 visas will be available for those who purchase real estate worth at least €150,000 (105,000 Latvian Lats, £127000, US$202,500). This number cut to 525 and in 2016, it will fall to 350
- A further 100 visas will be available for those who purchase real estate worth at least €500,000 (LVL351,000, £423,400, US$675,000)
- The fee for a visa will rise from LVL70 to LVL25,000
The new arrangements will be introduced on January 1st 2014. Until then, the old regime will be in place. Under the old rules, the minimum investment is €25,000 (LVL17,570, £21,170, $34,500) and the visa fee is LVL70.
The immigrant investor visas allow people from outside the European Economic Area who invest in a Latvian business or Latvian property to apply for a temporary resident visa. The visa lasts for five years. The visa holder must register with the Latvian police once every year.
Applicants must be able to support themselves in LatviaApplicants must also show that they can support themselves while they are in Latvia. Latvian immigrant investor visa holders can travel relatively freely within the Schengen Area which covers most of continental Europe. They can spend 90 days in every six months anywhere in the EU.
Sanwar Ali of workpermit.com, who knows Latvia well, said 'We were expecting the fee for the Latvian immigrant investor visa to rise. Opponents of the scheme within Latvia have always complained that it was too cheap. But the level of the new fee is quite a surprise and we were surprised too by the very large rise in the minimum qualifying investment'.
'Of course, to many people, a fee of €25,000 will be money well spent, but it may be prohibitively expensive for others. We would recommend that people apply as soon as possible to avoid paying such a large sum'.
Only two months until new regime'Those who want to do so should apply as soon as possible. There is only two months until the new regime is introduced and you will have to find, and make, an investment before applying for the immigrant investor visa.'
The current rules stipulate various different minimum levels of investment depending on the nature of the investment made as follows;
- 100,000 LVL ($189,430, €142,356) in buying property in a Latvian city
- 50,000LVL ($94,715, €71,178) in property anywhere else in Latvia
- 25,000LVL ($47,357, €35,590) in shares in a Latvian business which pays at least $20,000LVL in taxes annually, has at least 50 employees. Annual turnover must not exceed 7000,000LVL ($13,260,000, €9,965,382)
- 100,000LVL in any other Latvian business
- 200,000LVL in a Latvian credit institution
If you are interested in the Latvian immigrant investor scheme, call us in London on +44 (0)344 991 9222 or in Riga on (+371) 6 781 4120 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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