Serious flaws with resident permit system: audit probe

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The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) has been  in violation of the law by extending temporary residence permits for foreign citizens who received the permits based on their investments in Latvian companies or working on the companies' boards, according to findings announced Wednesday by the State Audit Office.

Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis has ordered an internal investigation based on the audit report and asked the PMLP to prepare a response and reaction plan to correct the situation.

The Immigration Law states that the aim of the residency permits is to facilitate Latvia's economic growth - the recipients must be involved in business activity in Latvia and contribute a certain amount of revenue into the state treasury.

However, auditors have established several cases where the PMLP extended residence permits for several persons even when they had not met these requirements. In one case an unnamed third-country citizen had to pay no less than €28,460 in taxes in a period of 12 months, while the actual payment made totaled under €3,000. Furthermore, the said person had his residence permit extended also for 2016, also despite the fact that the required payment had not been made. The Audit Office has in addition notified the Corruption Prevention Bureau about the cases.

Auditors also found that the cancellation process for residence permits is often delayed. 20% of expired temporary residence permits and 75% of permanent residence permits were cancelled with a delay.

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