Now that Latvia has joined the euro zone, legislators in Riga can return to the delicate issue of residency permits for foreign nationals. Lenient rules have allowed thousands of über-rich Russians, Chinese and Central Asians to use Latvia as a backdoor to Europe. Critics want to tighten legal loopholes, while defenders warn that too much tinkering could have economic consequences.
Since 2010, foreigners have been able to obtain Latvian residency under comparatively easy financial conditions. For example, foreigners who purchase real estate worth between 70,000 and 140,000 euros (roughly $96,000-$191,000), depending on the location of the property, can obtain Latvian residency. Once in possession of a residency permit, foreigners are eligible for a Schengen visa, enabling holders to travel freely to most EU states.
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Justin Burke is the executive editor of Eurasianet.