New procedure for issuing visas in Latvia

The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia has adopted new Visa Regulations, which facilitate minors' entry into Latvia, as well as shortens the period for retaining information on issued visas. The procedure for Latvian national or long-stay visas will further be in line with the practice of issuing visas in the Schengen area.

The new Visa Regulations will have less restrictions for travelling with minors. The current rules stipulate that those minors entering Latvia without a parent or a guardian have to present a notarised consent from a parent or guardian. With the new regulations coming into force, the notarised certification will no longer be necessary, if a parent or a guardian, when extending the visa, personally submits written permission in the presence of an official in a Latvian Mission or the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA). If parents have an urgent need to leave Latvia, but their child is able to stay in the country, the parents will be eligible to approve permission in OCMA for the child to remain in Latvia and return home independently, or together with another person.

According to the new regulations, information on visa applications and visas issued to aliens will be kept in national databases for five years, instead of 10 years, as it was before.

Furthermore, upon finding on breach of immigration and residence provisions, the State Border Guard will be authorised to cancel or revoke a visa not only at the state's border, but also on the territory of Latvia.

In 2009, Latvia issued in total 126,470 visas; the majority or 121,466 were issued at Latvian diplomatic and consular missions, 4,185 visas were issued in emergency situations at the border control points, and 630 visas were issued in the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, last year the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs extended duration of stay for 189 aliens, upon issuance of a new visa.