Most guest workers in Latvia come from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine

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According to data by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), most of the people from third countries who come to Latvia to work come from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, reported Latvian Radio Monday.

In the first six months of 2015 the PMLP has issued more than 700 work-related residence permits to foreigners working in Latvia.

Representatives of the job classifieds website told Latvian Radio that about 3% of their users say their native language is neither Latvian, nor Russian. Inhabitants of origins exotic to Latvia – like Nepalese, Tibetan and Iranian – are also among foreign job seekers in the country.

For example, 24-year-old Sadish from India came to Latvia in March to study mechanics at Riga Technical University (RTU). He said that he understands only about one third of what's said in Latvian, so he'd rather speak in English. He said he chose to study at RTU as the expenses are less in Latvia than in other European countries. 

He said he started looking for a job right upon his arrival, but it wasn't easy.

"First of all I inquired at restaurants, mostly in Old Riga. They answered that even to become a dishwasher I had to speak Latvian. That's why I stopped going to restaurants and continued looking for a job at the [classifieds] website. In the end, I found a job as a dishwasher at Kaņepes Kultūras Centrs," Sadish said.

Sadish needed just a week to find a job. Now he thinks that he could find a job in another place as well, as he has picked up some Latvian from his colleagues.

"Others have stopped calling and writing. They only ask their friends, whether they have any friends that can help them land a job. But they don't do anything themselves. If you try hard enough, you can find a job. I mostly say this about Indians. Me and my friend only depended on ourselves in looking for a job, and he found a good job, reminding other [compatriots] that, if you depend on the others, you won't find a good job," said the student.

According to the website, many foreigners are working in Latvia. If for three percent the native language is neither Latvian, nor Russian, they are foreign guests.

"These are, of course, only our registered users, so the sample is not representative, but the number [of foreign workers] is quite large. In total we have about 175,000 users, and English is usually specified as 'other language'. Though there are about 500 who know Arabic as well. Our neighbors Lithuanians are active as well – they look for a job in Latvia, just like Estonians and Finns," said head of the Latvian branch Renāte Zīverte.

According to representative of the PMLP Undīne Priekule, mostly work visas in Latvia are granted to Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians. A total of 2,500 people reside in Latvia with these permits. They work here in industries such as construction, transportation, coding and food.

While guest workers from other EU countries aren't tracked by the PMLP - from 2008 there's free movement of workers in the European Union, so EU nationals don't require a visa. 

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