Number of foreigners working in Latvia grows steadily

Take note – story published 6 years ago

In the last few years the number of work permits issued to foreign workers has been growing steadily, according to data by the Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office (PMLP). Despite unemployment at close to 10%, more and more businesses attract guest workers, mostly from neighboring countries. The majority of guest workers come from Ukraine, Lithuania, Russia, Bulgaria and Belarus.


However, PMLP data say people from more exotic countries such as India, the Philippines and China have also received work permits.

By 2014 a total 5,502 work permits had been issued to foreign nationals. The figure grew to 6,165 in 2015 and 7,590 in 2016. By January 1, 2017 a total 8,625 permits were active with 3,875 issued to non-EU nationals.

The number of issued work permits has grown by 56% within four years.

However only 15% of foreigners working in Latvia are doing highly-skilled work. Most guest workers are employed in railway, transit, construction and other industries.

According to a survey by the Latvian Employers Confederation conducted last fall, 70% of employers have significant trouble finding employees. Often or somewhat often they specifically lack highly-skilled employees.

Meanwhile 85% have trouble finding 'good' employees.

Latvia only allows hiring guest workers after the job has been offered to Latvian residents for at least a month.

Some entrepreneurs want the government to loosen requirements for hiring guest workers due to industry-specific labor shortages, however their proposals have been halted by the National Alliance party.

Currently, if a company hires a foreigner they have to pay them least the average monthly wage, which was €916 before taxes late last year in the private sector.

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