Latvia's 'golden visa' scheme to be scrapped

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The government coalition on Monday decided to scrap the scheme in which temporary residence permits were issued to foreigner citizens in exchange for an investment in real estate, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) told journalists following the weekly coalition meeting.

The prime minister indicated that the coalition has agreed to end this 'golden visa' program that allowed foreigners to obtain residency permits by buying expensive apartments and villas.

Kariņš said that the Ministry of the Interior is drafting necessary legislative amendments.

Jūris Pūce, chairman of Development/For political group in the Saeima, said that the ban on buying temporary residence permits in this way would apply to citizens of Russia and Belarus.

Pūce indicated that a precise legal regulation on this matter will be prepared in the next coming days and put before the relevant Saeima committee whose members will likely decide on it already on Wednesday. After that, lawmakers will review the matter at a Saeima plenary.

A decade ago, the prospect of a Latvian residence permit and hence the freedom to travel throughout the Schengen zone was widely marketed by banks and other bodies looking to lure clients from the east. However, a major clean-up of the banking sector and several previous rounds tightening up the rules on obtaining residence permits have seen a significant reduction in the scheme. The imposition of sanctions on Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine has only served to reinforce the desire to keep undesirables out of the EU, no matter how wealthy they might be.

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