Immigration in Latvia

05. June, 2014

Foto: Alfonso

A concise summary outlining global processes of immigration, immigration in Latvia and rights and opportunities of immigrants, thus also dispelling national myths on immigration.

Latvia becomes more and more attractive to foreign citizens – both from the European Union and other countries – who choose to settle here on a temporary or permanent basis. Moreover, the increase is observed in almost all groups of immigrants – either foreigners who are related to Latvia through their families, studies, employment, investments or shelter.

Immigrants come to Latvia, although Latvia has not yet defined a clear immigration policy and the concept of immigration policy is being drafted only now (summer of 2014).

Development tendencies of the Ministry of Economics show that by 2030 the national economy could be twice as big as it is now, with the economy growing on average at a rate of 3-4% annually. However, economic growth can be delayed by the lack of workforce due to the negative demographic trends – low birth rate and emigration, as the result of which the population size in 2030 could decrease by 6-10% (or 120-200 thousand people) in comparison with 2011. Moreover, the aging of the population would decrease the number of people in the working-age.

Therefore, the labour market of Latvia could have approximately 200 thousand job vacancies until 2030 – part of them could be filled by local job seekers, whereas the other part could require attracting workforce from foreign countries implementing a selective labour immigration policy.

As many other countries in the European Union and other parts of the world, Latvia hopes to attract highly skilled immigrants. However, comparing legislation and policy of 31 countries, Latvia shows the worst results regarding favourable environment for immigrants and their children.

Therefore, in addition to the global competition for human resources (workforce and skills), the main challenges for Latvia in this respect are to find a balance between the duties and rights of immigrants, as well as create conditions for immigrants to have opportunities to learn Latvian. One of the considerations which may burden immigrants’ daily life in Latvia is the rather negative public opinion on immigration.

The objective of this summary is to help knowledge-based decision making in the field of immigration policy by outlining global processes of immigration, immigration in Latvia and rights and opportunities of immigrants, thus also dispelling myths on immigration in Latvia.

The material – including data visualizations – is available here. raksts

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