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Working and living in Latvia after Brexit: a guide for UK nationals

Written by
COBALT, the full-service law firm in Latvia of choice for local and multinational businesses and global top law firms.
Authors
Toms Sulmanis
Partner - Latvia
COBALT (Latvia)
Alina Ustinova
Assistant Lawyer - Latvia
COBALT (Latvia)
Latvia
05.01.21
5
New rules apply to UK nationals living and working in and travelling to Latvia following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. This guide explains.

1. GUIDANCE

1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?

Yes. On 21 March 2019 the ‘Law on Application of the Legal Framework after the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union’ was adopted.

Until 30 June 2021, UK citizens and their family members who entered Latvia and applied for the EU residence card before 31 December 2020 can apply for a new residence permit at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) by submitting an application (template available here) enclosing a copy of their passport. The application can be submitted via mail or courier service or electronically, using a secure electronical signature.

The new residence card will identify UK citizen as having been legally resident in Latvia before the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020 and therefore eligible for citizens’ rights in Latvia which are guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If UK citizens and their family members fail to submit an application for a new document confirming their right to reside in Latvia until 30 June 2021, their previously issued residence documents will be cancelled and their further stay in the Republic of Latvia will only be possible as third-country nationals in accordance with the Immigration Law.

UK citizens who enter Latvia after 31 December 2020 will be able to enter and stay in Latvia as third-country nationals in accordance with the Immigration Law.

 

2. BUSINESS TRAVEL

2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?

No, Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a Schengen visa. It applies from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law. UK citizens can enter and stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

The Schengen exemption applies from 1 January 2021.

2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?

Travel documents (valid passport) with a validity of no more than ten years valid for at least six months after departure from Latvia.

Proof of duration and purpose of stay as border control may ask additional questions concerning duration and purpose of stay.

2.3 Do UK nationals need additional permission to work for business travel from 1 January 2021?

No.

However, please note that in Latvia, business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

  • attending internal meetings, discussions, conferences or training seminars;
  • attending client meetings;
  • undertaking sales or marketing activities, such as making sales calls to potential clients, or negotiating a business deal or contract;
  • exploring business opportunities.

 

A work permit is required for operations and activities to be performed on the basis of a contract.

For a duration under 14 days within a 180-day period, visitors can undertake any activity, including work activities. To reside and work in Latvia for more than 14 days UK nationals require additional permission to work.

 

3. EMPLOYMENT AND RESIDENCE

3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in Latvia from 1 January 2021? 

Yes, to work in Latvia UK nationals should obtain a visa/residence permit with work permit, unless they can rely on an exemption such as:

  • holder of a permanent residence permit or a residence permit as a long-term resident of the European Union in the Republic of Latvia;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as the spouse of a Latvian citizen, a non-citizen of Latvia or a foreigner who has received a permanent residence permit;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as a person who has been granted the status of a long-term EU resident in another EU member state, or as a family member of such person who has been staying in Latvia with a temporary residence permit and wishes to be employed in the Republic of Latvia;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as a person who has made an investment in the equity capital of a capital company or as a family member of such a person;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as a person who has purchased and who owns property in Latvia or as a family member of such a person;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as a person who has made financial investments in a credit institution in the Republic of Latvia or as a family member of such a person;
  • holder of a temporary residence permit as a family member of a foreign national who has been granted a right to employment with a specific employer or the right to conduct commercial activities.
  • ‘Van Der Elst exemption’ (subject to conditions).

 

3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals? 

No

3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?   

•  residence permit with work authorisation;

  • EU Blue Card for highly skilled foreign nationals;
  • ICT Permit for managers, specialists and trainees on intra-company transfer assignments to Latvia.

 

3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?    

Generally, foreign nationals are able to start working 46 to 116 calendar days (for visa-exempt nationals) or 48-130 calendar days (for nationals who do require a visa) from when the residence permit with work authorisation process is initiated. Government processing can be expedited by paying urgency fees.

It generally takes the government nine to 58 calendar days to process a residence permit with a work authorisation application from the date of filing:

  • seven to 30 calendar days for residence permit processing;
  • one to seven calendar days booking a consular appointment (for visa nationals);
  • one to seven calendar days for visa processing (for nationals who require a visa);
  • two to 14 calendar days for residence card processing.

 

3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable? Government fees would be:

  • EUR 69 for approval of sponsorship (additional fees for dependents) for an individual;
  • EUR 100-400 for processing a residence permit with permission to work, depending on processing speed;
  • EUR 15-30 for residence card processing, depending on processing speed; or
  • EUR 60-120 for processing a visa with permission to work, depending on processing speed.

 

4. FRONTIER WORKERS

4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in Latvia but living in another country from 1 January 2021?

UK frontier workers who entered Latvia before 31 December 2020 can keep their status if they had applied for the EU residence card at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) before 31 December 2020. UK frontier workers who enter Latvia after 1 January 2021 need additional permission to work.

 

5. PERMANENT RESIDENCE

5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?        

Five years of legal stay in Latvia (subject to conditions).

 

6. SECURING RESIDENCE AND WORK STATUS

6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?      

Until 30 June 2021, UK citizens and their family members who entered Latvia and applied for the EU residence card before 31 December 2020 should apply for a new residence permit at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA).

 

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