"A fast-track visa application process has been developed by the LIAA to support the relocation of Belarusian businesses and their employees in light of the repressions faced in their home country. This comes after the Minister of the Interior, Sandis Ģirģens, issued an invitation for businesses to relocate their operations to Latvia," said a LIAA release August 27.
LIAA has developed a quick response team to process visa applications from Belarus faster and a liaison with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP). The visas and residence permits available to Belarusian individuals through the LIAA fast-track program include the “startup visa” for founders of innovative and scalable businesses and their families, the EU “Blue Card” for highly qualified workers and their families, and the Temporary Residence Permit for those who do not fit the requirements of the first two permits.
The special team will provide the documentation required to determine the innovativeness of the business (if applying for the startup visa), but also provides guidance throughout the application process. A direct line of communication with the PMLP has been established "for faster processing of all visa and residence permit formats".
“With visa fast-tracking, Latvia extends a welcoming hand to Belarusian businesses and talents seeking a safe and modern environment in which to thrive and innovate,” said Kaspars Rožkalns, Director of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia.
LIAA said it believes that Belarusian businesses have "significant potential" and that by relocating to Latvia, the businesses would be able to capitalize on a free market, as well as from the strategic positioning that provides easy access to business travel. Riga is home to the most connected airport in the Baltic region with over 100 direct flight destinations under normal non-pandemic conditions.
"Riga is also home to a community of over 75,000 Belarusians, as well as several major Belarusian-owned businesses. With community centers, schools, and cultural groups, the Belarusian culture can be explored and maintained in a tight-knit community," LIAA said.
Individuals and businesses interested in participating in the fast-track visa program are invited to contact the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia at [email protected].
On August 18 Interior Minister Ģirģens made the first relocation pitch to Belarus businesses saying: "“Last July, the amendments to the Immigration Law proposed by the Ministry of the Interior were approved, which made it easier for foreign companies in Latvia to obtain a European Union Blue Card in order to promote the attraction of highly qualified specialists. If the current situation in Belarus does not improve and violence against the people of Belarus continues, I would like to welcome Belarusian companies, especially in the IT sector, to relocate their operations to Latvia.”