By Uglobal Staff
Latvia's government initially decided to end its residency by investment program, but the adopted text of the parliament's final reading of the bill to this effect did not call for total ban of the golden visa program. It instead decided to impose a temporary ban on the issuance of first residence permits to Russians and Belarusians for about a year until June 30, 2023.
Latvia’s golden visa residency program is known to be quite popular among wealthy Russians.
In a statement released on website of the parliament’s official website on April 7, the law also laid out rules to revoke the residence permit of any foreigner.
"It has been established that the issuance or registration of a residence permit may also be refused in cases where the competent state authorities have established that a foreigner has publicly glorified, denied or justified genocide, a crime against humanity, a crime against peace, a war crime.
"This will also be possible if it is established that the foreigner has provided significant financial, material, propaganda, technological or other support to persons or states that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of democracies or the constitutional system, or has carried out such acts or otherwise acted contrary to the interests of national security or public order and safety," according to the law.
On March 29, the Latvian Prime Minister, Krisjanis Karins announced the decision of his government to end the RBI program, saying that legislative draft bill to this effect would be prepared in the coming days, which would then be debated and adopted by the parliament, according to the country’s official news portal.
Karins had implied that the latest government decision meant that foreigners would no longer be able to invest in apartments and villas for the purpose of gaining residency in Latvia.
The ruling Latvian coalition government's move came soon after the European Commission had recommended all EU member states to immediately end all citizenship by investment programs and completely reform all residency by investment programs.
While Latvia did not offer any CBI program, successful applicants of its golden visa program could eventually get the country’s citizenship; candidates would first have to qualify as permanent residents after a period of five years and then give up their other passport, if it belonged to a non-NATO country.
Juris Puce, who is the head of the Development/For political group in the Latvian parliament, was quoted by the Latvian Information Agency as saying that the government decision to end the program was aimed at stopping Russians and Belarusians from gaining a foothold in the country.
Several European countries, among them Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta have already banned all Russians and Belarusians from applying to their investment immigration programs. The UK too ended its investor visa program on the pretext of ending the influence of wealthy Russians in the island nation. Many Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica and Grenada too have followed suit, though St. Lucia has taken a slightly different approach by only banning those individuals who are on the international sanctions list.
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