Latvian government backs easier hiring of third-country workers

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The Latvian government on December 10 supported the removal of several bureaucratic obstacles to hiring employees from third countries, reported the LETA newswire.

The Interior Ministry said that the amendments were drafted to eliminate certain bureaucratic procedures in hiring foreign labor, as provided for in the Action Plan for Improving Business Environment in 2019-2022. The amendments are meant to mitigate the negative impact of a local labor shortages rather than allow the import of cheap foreign labor to undercut local workers, the ministry said.

In other European Union countries, bureaucratic obstacles to the employment of foreigners are lower - as a result, foreigners often work in Latvia but are recruited and taxed in another EU Member State.

"Latvia must not lose its competitiveness due to bureaucratic obstacles, and the amendments in no way facilitate the import of cheap labor. It is more profitable for entrepreneurs to hire a local worker than to pay the average wage to a low-skilled foreigner," said Interior Minister Sandis Girgens.

Among other things, the amendments abolish the requirement to publish a vacancy in case the prospective employee from a third country has been employed in Latvia for two years, or has been employed by the given employer and the employer wishes to employ him or her in another job.

The amendments also abolish the requirement for employers to publish a vacancy in case a foreign student has been employed by the employer and wishes to continue work for the same employer after graduation.

Amendments to the Regulations Regarding Residence Permits allow foreigners to submit documents for the registration of a residence permit electronically, confirming the application with a secure electronic signature. This will ease the administrative burden for both foreign employees and the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. Currently, all documents must be submitted in person.

The amendments provide that third-country citizens invited to do unskilled jobs in Latvia do not have to submit documents certifying qualification or experience. Employers have often pointed to this obstacle, noting that employees in such jobs do not require a specific level of education or prior experience.

The government today approved amendments to the Regulations on Procedures for Approval of Invitations and Drawing up of Written Requests, which stipulate that companies that participate in the In-depth Cooperation Program with the State Revenue Service will have certain advantages in hiring third-country citizens.

Latvia's labor market is becoming tighter each year as the population shrinks and emigration takes its toll. It is feared that without the ability to attract good quality labor from other countries, economic growth could stall.

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