Latvia

 

2019

  • Rank: Equality on paper
  • MIPEX Score (with Health): 37
  • LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY
  • FAMILY REUNION
  • EDUCATION
  • HEALTH
  • POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
  • PERMANENT RESIDENCE
  • ACCESS TO NATIONALITY
  • ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Key Findings

Changes in policy

Over the past five years, Latvia has improved its integration policies by granting more equal opportunities and basic rights to health and citizenship. In 2019, a law on citizenship for non-citizens immigrant children was approved. The children of non-citizens immigrants will automatically be entitled to Latvian citizenship by birth. More research and language facilities should be available in the health system, while the asylum seekers should be eligible for minimum health care support. Similarly to most MIPEX countries – which improved by +2 points on average –, Latvian integration policies improved by +3 points from 2014 to 2019. Latvian integration policies have continuously improved on MIPEX since 2007.

Positive changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • Citizenship for immigrant children (birthright and socialisation).
  • Conditions for asylum-seekers to access healthcare.
  • Administrative discretion and documentation for asylum-seekers to access healthcare.
  • Cost/availability of interpreters for healthcare
  • Support for research on migrant health

Negative changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • None

Conclusions and recommendations

Despite this recent progress, Latvia scores 37/100, which means that Latvia integration policies create more obstacles than opportunities for integration. Latvia’s score is lower than the average score of MIPEX country (50).

Latvia employs an approach to integration that promotes equality on paper, as it focuses mainly on access to rights and long-term settlement. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Latvia enjoy basic rights and protection, but not equal opportunities. Despite the fact that Latvia has invested in access to rights and opportunities over the last five years, Latvia is weaker than the average in MIPEX on all the three dimensions. Policies in Latvia are far to offer equal opportunities to migrants.

Without greater support on all three dimensions (rights, opportunities and long-term security), immigrants will remain invisible in public life and the Latvian public will also continue to see immigrants more as threats than as opportunities. Almost half of the population in Latvia thinks that immigration and immigrants are a problem for the society. The weak education policies may also explain the low number of migrants with tertiary education, one of the lowest in the EU. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society. Under these inclusive policies, both immigrants and the public are more likely to interact together and think of each other as equals.

Latvia’s integration policies are below the average for Europe, and they are less advanced than in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe (e.g., Czechia and Estonia) and in countries employing a similar approach to integration (e.g., Slovenia and Hungary). Latvia’s policies are ranked lower than the other new EU member states (EU13) and similar to policies in Croatia, Lithuania and Slovakia. In contrast, policies are more advanced in Estonia and Poland.

  • Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: Migrant workers can improve their skills and job prospects with equal access to education, training and study grants, but they have only partial equal access to employment.
  • Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Latvia's family reunion policies are more discretionary than in most countries, with relatively few non-EU families able to reunite in the country.
  • Education: Slightly unfavourable: Latvian schools lack much of the basic infrastructure to welcome newcomer pupils in terms of their access, needs, new opportunities and a broader approach to intercultural education.
  • Health: Slightly unfavourable: Basic healthcare entitlements are missing for temporary residents and undocumented migrants, while permanent residents and, since 2018, asylum seekers get access to them. Migrant patients benefit from a limited support, although interpretation services are now available free of charge.
  • Political participation: Unfavourable: A major area of weakness across Central Europe, immigrant groups in Latvia has no right to vote (including in local elections) and no chance to be consulted through a national integration forum.
  • Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Non-EU residents can settle long-term, but would benefit from more flexible requirements and more secure status
  • Access to nationality: Slightly unfavourable: The restrictive requirements bar many immigrants from acquiring the nationality. However, the new law in 2019 improved the situation for Latvian-born children by establishing that non-citizens Latvian-born residents are automatically entitled to Latvian citizenship.
  • Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Potential victims of discrimination benefit from the enforcement mechanisms and the mandate of the Latvian equality body that are quite well developed. However, citizenship as a ground of discrimination is not explicitly mentioned.

Top 5 Policy Recommendations from Providus

  • Improve migrant labor market mobility by providing institutionalized, systematic and targeted services to all migrants, also migrants with temporary residence permits, and develop employment support services for migrant women and youth.
  • Improve the family reunification system by awarding family members the same type of residence permit as their sponsors.
  • Improve migrant education by developing institutionalized, systematic and targeted support for Latvian language acquisition and the assessment of the needs of migrant pupils, providing Latvian language training to university students and developing intercultural competencies of teachers.
  • Improve migrant access to health care by engaging migrants in service evaluation and design, and by providing health care services to undocumented migrants.
  • Make permanent residence more secure by lifting the requirement to register one’s permanent residence permit every five years, instead renewing it automatically if no changes or offences, and by allowing any income source as legitimate for acquiring permanent residence.
  • Improve migrant political participation by allowing third country nationals to vote in local elections, and by implementing regular, formal consultations with migrants to take into account their needs and interests.

 

POLICIES - SUMMARY

Latvia RELATED NEWS

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New results of MIPEX
(2014-2020)

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!