Investment-Based Citizenship in Latvia
While small in size, the country of Latvia offers tremendous opportunities for foreign investors seeking to obtain a second international residence or citizenship. Still a relatively hidden gem and largely overlooked as an investment opportunity, Latvia is located in Northern Europe and bordered by Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, and Sweden. The nation is a member of the European Union and the United Nations and is ranked as a high income country by international ratings systems.
Because the level of foreign investment in Latvia is still relatively low in comparison to other EU-member nations, the country has taken great steps to attract more investors to the nation.
Latvia’s Investment-Based Citizenship Program – Step One
The first step in obtaining citizenship in Latvia is to obtain a temporary resident permit. Foreign investors may obtain these residence permits by investing in qualifying Latvian credit institutions or by investing a Latvian enterprise’s equity capital. To invest in a credit institution, the foreign national must invest a minimum of 286,000 Euros, and the length of the transaction must be at least five years without the possibility of earlier termination. To invest in an enterprise’s equity capital, the foreign national must invest a minimum of 36,000 Euros and must pay a minimum of 28,600 Euros in the next year.
The investor submits an application for a temporary permit to the Latvian immigration authorities. The application explains which investment option the foreign national chose and contains proof that the required investment amount has been committed to the credit institution or enterprise.
After the foreign investor is approved for a temporary resident permit, the investor has the right to reside in Latvia for the duration of the permit (five years), obtain permits for the investor’s spouse and children, and freely travel and cross the borders of EU member states.
Latvia’s Investment-Based Citizenship Program – Step Two
The second step in obtaining Latvian citizenship is for the foreign investor to become a permanent resident of the nation. The investor can apply for permanent residence five years after becoming a temporary resident. The application must contain proof that the investor has not violated the civil, criminal, or immigration laws of Latvia, and that the investor continues to develop and manage the investment in the credit institution or enterprise.
Latvia’s Investment-Based Citizenship Program – Step Three
Finally, once the foreign investor has been a permanent Latvian resident for five years, the investor can apply for Latvian citizenship through a legal process called naturalization. The naturalization application is much more involved than both the temporary and permanent resident applications.
First, investors must pass an examination that tests their fluency in the Latvian language, and their knowledge of the country’s Constitution and its principles, its National Anthem, and its history and culture.
The language fluency part of the examination is divided into four parts: listening, reading, writing and speaking. If an applicant fails the language fluency section, the test can be retaken but no sooner than three months after the first exam. The rest of the exam can only be taken after the applicant passes the language sections.
Once the applicant passes the language portions, the applicant may sit for the sections on the Latvian Constitution, National Anthem, and history and culture. The applicant can take the test in written or oral form. The written test consist of 18 questions, with 10 questions testing the applicant’s knowledge of Latvian history and 8 questions testing the applicant’s knowledge of the country’s Constitution. In the oral test, the applicant is required to answer one question each about the nation’s Constitution and its history and culture. For both tests, the applicant is required to write or speak the Latvian National Anthem.
The oral and written tests may also be retaken, but neither these tests nor the language test may be retaken more than three times. In the event that an applicant fails a test three times, the naturalization process is terminated.
Second, applicants must prove that they have a legal source of income. Third, they must provide proof of the economic and entrepreneurial activities they engaged in during their entire stay in Latvia. Fourth, they must sign a pledge of loyalty to the laws and nation of Latvia. Finally and very importantly, naturalization applicants must provide proof that they renounced their former citizenship. Latvia does not recognize dual citizenship.